The novice nurse and clinical decision-making: how to avoid errors

J Nurs Manag. 2011 Apr;19(3):354-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2834.2011.01248.x.


Aim: The purpose of this integrative review is to present the evidence in relation to novice nurses' errors when faced with clinical decision-making in the first years of a nursing career.

Background: Recent studies identify a need for nursing schools to produce 30,000 new graduates each year to keep up with the nursing shortage. Novice nurses may be at greater risk for errors than experienced nurses. As the novice nurse moves into practice, it is imperative to recognize potential mistakes in order to prevent errors.

Evaluation: Articles selected included information regarding types of errors, causes of errors and potential interventions for the novice nurse.

Key issues: The primary types of errors committed by the novice nurses include medication errors, patient falls and delay in treatment. The causes of such errors are complex.

Implications for nursing management: Improved patient outcomes, reduced liability and higher retention/satisfaction are all potential benefits of reducing the errors made by novice nurses. Simply being aware of the type of problems may be an important first step in improving the care by novice nurses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / prevention & control
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Delayed Diagnosis
  • Educational Measurement
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / nursing
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Nursing*
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors