I was involved in a med error this week. I was about to hang a bag of I.V. fluid when a nurse coming on for the next shift offered to hang it for me. I thanked her and left to finish my charting. When I checked on the patient later, I saw the I.V. bag sitting on the bedside table. The other nurse had forgotten to hang it after being interrupted with an emergency. Are we equally liable for this error?-R.A., COLO.
This is a good example of why a nurse should never administer a drug that she hasn't prepared and double-checked herself-and why you should never pass off your patient-care responsibilities, as you did in this case, to a colleague.
As for liability: If the patient were harmed, both you and the oncoming nurse would share responsibility-but you'd probably take the brunt of the liability because you had the legal duty to follow through with your patient during your shift. In the future, always complete your own assignments.