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Could I lose my nursing license if I administered the wrong vaccine?

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) recently reported that it received notification of almost 1,500 vaccine errors from June of 2020 through December 2021. In one example, a 91-year-old patient received two COVID-19 vaccinations on the same day and went into shock. His blood pressure dropped dangerously low and medical professionals were concerned that he may not survive. He recovered, but the story serves as a reminder of the importance of careful vaccine administration.

The ISMP broke down reported vaccination errors during the reported period as follows:

  • Dosage amounts. Almost 70% errors were due to mistakes with COVID-19 vaccination doses.
  • Wrong vaccine. 24% of reported errors were the result of medical professionals providing patients with the wrong vaccine.
  • Expired. 14% of errors were the result of giving an expired flu, tetanus, hepatitis, or other non-COVID vaccine.

The ISMP has called on medical professionals to make changes to reduce the risk of these errors in the future. In one example, they called for clear labels of adult versus pediatric vaccines as well as a separate storage location.

What happens to the person who administered the vaccine when there is an error?

Vaccines are administered by a range of healthcare professionals, including pharmacists and nurses. Depending on the patient and the frequency of the error, the mistake could result in an official investigation. The Texas Board of Nursing, for example, could initiate an investigation if it receives a complaint a nurse repeatedly made this type of mistake or caused serious injury as a result of this error.

How serious of an error is this?

It is important to take any notification of an impending investigation seriously. Nurses are wise to gather evidence to build a defense when faced with these allegations. An attorney can review the situation and advocate for your interests, better ensuring an efficient and favorable resolution.

Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication