Suicide After Medical Error Highlights Importance of Support for Clinicians

A tragic story about the death of a child from a medical error turned even sadder last month after the nurse who administered the medication took her own life. It serves as a grim wake-up call for how hospitals deal with clinicians after errors.

7 comments on "Suicide After Medical Error Highlights Importance of Support for Clinicians"
Rudy (7/21/2012 at 9:17 PM)

unfortunately, the culture in nursing lets it happen. Doctors call with orders, lab calls with critical values, family members call with questions/problems/complaints, transportation needs to take bed 2 to xray NOW, and if you make any of them wait, they are going to report you/write you up/ file a complaint/ stand there and yell/ let the phone ring on and on and on. Meanwhile you are trying to decipher a doctor's handwriting, find out what the last calcium level was, what the potassium level is, and what the cardiac monitor is reading (because there has to be a reason the calcium chloride was ordered, was it for high potassium must check EKG) and as you are on the computer attempting to do this, bystanders think you are browsing the internet Suddenly the final distraction happens and a med error is made.
Rudy (7/21/2012 at 9:13 PM)

"unfortunately, we have no idea how the error occurred and how the hospital handled the situation" Yes we do. She administered 1.4 grams of calcium chloride [INVALID] instead of the correct dose of 140 milligrams, which contributed not only to the death of the 8-month-old, but also to her firing, and a state nursing commission investigation.
Steven D. Hobbs, Ph.D., R.N., BC (5/23/2011 at 1:36 AM)

My heart goes out for the child, the parents, the nurse, her family and the facility involved. The facility is most to blame here. Obviously they chose the low road response. How likely is any nurse at that facility to now report an error? What does it say about their "support of nursing?" An excellent example as to why EVERY R.N. needs their own independent malpractice insurance (although this will not save your job, it may save your home). I hope they are not a Magnet facility.
stefani (5/20/2011 at 10:10 AM)

This is even more tragic when we know darn well that a physician causing the death of a patient results in some courtroom time, some hand slapping and then back to business as usual. Licenses are rarely revoked and even when they are, the physician simply pulls up stakes and moves to the next state.
Bill Gustafson (5/14/2011 at 4:50 PM)

What can be said about such a tragedy. Loss of life is always sad and I have never seen the perfect system that eliminates all risk. I have been in administration and now the medical equipment side. Devices, pharmaceuticals, services all have their inherent risk. I agree that somehow we must be responsible yet accept the errors and balance that with the good we do. Supporting those who are the front line in health care should be a given or you will loose those who care in favor of those who don't.
Linda, RN, BSN (5/13/2011 at 11:27 AM)

This is a typical case of a loyal employee, with many years of service, being thrown under th bus by their employer. If something bad happens, the commone hospital practice is to "just blame the nurse" to deflect any blame they may receive-The teflon DONs-we are easy scapegoats for problems with deliberate understaffing,too many patients for each nurse, etc. We have no idea what might have led up to this tragic mistake. And the hospital wanted to make sure that the attention was focused on this individual who had the unfortunate luck to have it happen to her. There but for the grace of God go I.My thoughts and prayers are with this family.
Mary K Parker (5/10/2011 at 1:44 PM)

I think one of the best take-home points here is the need for ongoing support, both emotional and clinical, for the individuals involved in medical errors. As supervisors, it is crucial that we not disparage or stigmatize these individuals. Having made medication errors myself (and supervising others who have made mistakes), I can empathize and understand the shame, fear, and sudden doubt in one's abilities to continue as a nurse or healthcare provider. I am so sorry RN Kimberly Hiatt felt so much shame and hopelessness that she could not overcome these feelings. My thoughts and prayers are for her and her family in this hard time.


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