7 Horrifying Nursing Stories


Where would medicine be without humor? It’d be boiled down to just a blur of classes and facts. It would make all of the time spent soldiering through online nursing classes and residency seem like an arduous task, not a rewarding one. The following are ten true stories from real nurses.

Beware “Family Jokes”

A nurse was obtaining a patient history for a woman being admitted for cardiac catheterization. During the family history, she began to describe her husband’s many medical conditions. Then she stopped and said, “Oh! But he’s not a blood relative.”

The nurse replied jokingly, “Unless you’re from West Virginia.”

Which they certainly were. Apparently wherever the nurse was from did not instill the value of pause before speech.

Be Sensitive to Patient Limitations

One nurse describes a moment in nursing school when they were giving a bed bath to a patient with bilateral AKA. When they had finished, they pulled the sheet up and asked if he would like a blanket, to which he responded that he didn’t care. Her classmate pulled the blanket up and suggested, “If you don’t want it, you can always kick it off.”

You Need “What” for Surgery?

An operating nurse describes a surgery in which the doctor asked for crazy glue, a bra hook and a rubber band. At first the nurse thought he was joking, but he was absolutely serious and demanded she find them. So she went on a search and returned with the items. The doctor then used them as a retraction device for finger surgery. The rubber band wrapped around the wrist, he attached the bra hook to a finger nail with the crazy glue, and then hooked the rubber band around the hook to keep the finger bent.

Fun with Greenhorns

One nurse mentioned that seasoned veterans love to play jokes on the newcomers. A common joke was to ask for a “mitochondrial welder” an item which does not exist. She also mentions that some of her colleagues were apparently none too bright, as they fell for the joke repeatedly, even after years of nursing experience.

One anesthesiologist used to joke with new nurses that patients required the drug “nomoveatall.” Of course the pharmacists had fun with this one too, having it heard it so many times, they often made the nurse repeat the name, pronounce it, spell it out, etc., before they let them in on the joke.

He Has Big “What”?

Then there are simple language and situational misunderstandings. One day a nurse was assisting an elderly gentleman, he was standing up for a sponge bath. He looked down and said, “Have you ever seen anything so big?” The nurse wasn’t quite sure how to comment, when he blurted, “My brother-in-law says I have the biggest feet he has ever seen.”

Recycled vs. Resited

The following conversation was shared by a nurse in Cornwall. She was working with an elderly patient who had her colostomy resited. When she woke she asked what had been done to her. The nurse responded that, “The doctor resited your colostomy.” To which the patient said, “Recycled my colostomy! Well who’s got it then?”

Heard at the Nursing Station

Of course, the nursing station is ‘joke central’ partly for the value of conversational snippets overheard.

The wife of one patient was overheard stating that, “The nurse just went in to seduce my husband!”

She meant “sedate.”

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