Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Papers lying around


Mother knows best … papers lying around

Share a mistake you made with other nurses. Details will be altered to ensure anonymity. And we'll pay $35 for it. Send your letter, mailing address, and social security number to: Confidentially, Nursing2002, 1111 Bethlehem Pike, P.O. Box 908, Springhouse, PA 19477 (include a self-addressed, stamped envelope) or send via E-mail to

Two women in my unit had the last name Johnson and both had urologic problems: Mandy had renal failure; Susan, a kidney infection.

While I was in Susan Johnson's room, I was paged. Without thinking, I left my work sheet on her bed and answered my call. When I returned to Susan's room, she was holding my work sheet and trembling. “Why didn't you tell me my kidneys aren't working?” she demanded. I quickly explained my mistake and reassured her about her condition.

By accidentally leaving another patient's work sheet behind, I'd breached Mandy's confidentiality and caused Susan unnecessary distress. Now, no matter how busy I am, I make patient confidentiality a priority.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.