5 Weird Questions Patients have asked me during my career as an OB Nurse

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    This article is meant to be humorous, an easy-read article as well. As a nurse, we are born into this weird sense of humor, I have come to notice. There are strange questions we receive as nurses, about nursing, about our patient’s diagnosis, or just flat out weird, annoying questions.

    5 Weird Questions Patients have asked me during my career as an OB Nurse

    Nurses are teachers. We are always answering questions for our patients, no matter how strange they are. We do it in a professional manner, and never make the patient feel stupid. That being said, there are questions we receive in our daily work that make us wonder, “how is this person getting through life?” Or, in my labor and delivery case, “How is she going to be a mother, if she doesn’t know X.”

    This article is meant to be humorous, an easy-read article as well. As a nurse, we are born into this weird sense of humor, I have come to notice. There are strange questions we receive as nurses, about nursing, about our patient’s diagnosis, or just flat out weird, annoying questions.

    See which you relate to, which make you laugh, and feel free to comment and add to the growing list.

    The first question….

    1. “Which hole do I pee out of?”

    This is an unfortunately way too common question I get from patients. I work in labor and delivery, so it is an all-female population. I cannot believe how many women do not know their own bodies. I have had women in tears because they don’t understand why they are bleeding vaginally and not when they void. They think that if they go to the bathroom and void that they are also pushing their babies out.

    Overall, a very confusing question I get and every time I stop myself from trying to give a look of “really?”

    2. I’m sorry, did I wake you? (on nights)

    I worked night shift for over ten years. I hated every moment. I didn’t hate my coworkers, or the job, just the feeling my body had working twelve hour nights. I did night shift pregnant, nursing, and raising two boys. I was lucky, like many mothers on nights, to get 4 hours of sleep between shifts.

    Anyway, there were many nights that patients would apologize for putting their call lights on to ask for something because they thought they were waking me. I’m pretty sure that’s grounds for firing, but thanks patient for thinking I sleep all night.

    3. When they call me doctor

    Ok, this isn’ t a question, it’s just something that makes me roll my eyes. It is usually a comment from the most undereducated patient or patient’s relative. They do not understand the difference between nurses and doctors, nor do they understand the educational difference between the two.

    “Honey, just ask the doctor your question. : pointing at me:: I usually look behind me thinking the doctor is in the room.

    My answer: “I am not the doctor, X is your doctor, remember seeing him/her throughout the pregnancy? They are the doctor.” I end up correcting them several times during my shift, and usually end up giving it up after the third time or so.

    4. How big is the needle in my arm?

    I get this question at least once a week. Patients think that the IV needle stays inside their arm.

    My answer: “Well, the IV needle does not stay in you, it is a thin, flexible catheter that will deliver the fluids and medicine to you.”

    It boggles my mind that a patient really thinks a needle stays in their skin the entire time. I remember thinking that when I was very young...but never as an adult, and definitely not as a laboring mother.

    5. So will you be the one delivering the baby?

    This is a weird question for me because ideally, they have been to the OBGYN over 20 times during the pregnancy. Now, they meet me for 5 minutes and think I will be delivering their child. This also goes back to them calling me a doctor. I’m not a doctor, and I wouldn't want to be a doctor, and no I don’t deliver babies, I will do everything to get the patient to that point, but not actually do the delivery.

    My Answer: “You don’t want me delivering your baby. I didn’t go to school for that, specifically. I went to school to help you get through labor and the delivery. The doctor will deliver the baby Now, if for some reason you progressed quickly, I know how to deliver a baby, but ideally, I would rather not.”

    There you have it. Five of the weirdest questions I get from patients in labor and delivery. I am sure I could add and add to this list, as could you, so please do.

    What are some weird questions your patients have asked you? How did you react?
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    About JanineKelbach, RN

    anine Kelbach, RNC-OB is a freelance writer and owner of www.WriteRN.net. Janine has been an RN since 2006, specializing in labor and delivery. She ventured into writing in 2012. She still works in the hospital. She, her husband, and two boys reside in Cleveland, Ohio.

    32 Years Old; Joined Jan '14; Posts: 57; Likes: 115.

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    50 Comments

  3. by   klone
    How long will this take? (when she comes in for an IOL)

    I'm so sorry! How can you do this? (as I'm cleaning her perineum and applying Tucks and Dermoplast to her while she sits on the toilet, dripping blood all over the floor)
  4. by   ElvishDNP
    How much does the baby weigh? (Not weird in itself, but when I haven't taken baby off mom's chest yet it's hard to know.)

    Similarly, when are y'all gonna circumcise him? (Well, probably sometime after he's pink and breathing.)
  5. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from Elvish
    How much does the baby weigh? (Not weird in itself, but when I haven't taken baby off mom's chest yet it's hard to know.)
    That one always made me smile. Dad or mom would ask it.
  6. by   OrganizedChaos
    Quote from klone
    I'm so sorry! How can you do this? (as I'm cleaning her perineum and applying Tucks and Dermoplast to her while she sits on the toilet, dripping blood all over the floor)
    LOL. Omg. This is all too real for me as I *just* had a baby & that image of all the blood dripping on the bathroom floor & in the toilet isn't gone from my head just yet.
  7. by   Extra Pickles
    Ok not an L&D nurse but I'll share

    Patient asked me to ask the doctor when he would take out the Foley (she's post-op, now back on the floor). I say "I'll take it out, it's ordered to come out in the morning when we get you up and moving". Patient: But the DOCTOR put it in! During SURGERY! YOU can't just take it out yourself!"

    Umm sure. You can lay right there and wait for Dr. Surgeon to come and remove that Foley himself, or you can have me do it, which is how it's going to go down anyway.
  8. by   Lame
    "Are you going to become a doctor next?"

  9. by   CNC_1989
    When I was explaining to a patient that smoking cigarettes while you're pregnant could contribute to a low birth weight the patient asked if I meant low birth weight for her or the baby. It was hard to keep a straight face.
  10. by   LibraSunCNM
    As the midwife caring for a patient in labor..."When will the baby be born?"

    From my own father, who is a college professor with a PhD, when I was doing homebirth for my final semester of midwifery school and was on call 24/7..."Will you be delivering any babies this weekend?"

    Apparently I missed the day they passed the crystal balls out.
  11. by   oldpsychnurse
    I work psych, so luckily I haven't had to deal with many L&D patients. But this is kind of relevant. One of our favorite frequent flyers, who was truly BSC, knew all of us really well and tended to say whatever came to mind. So, knowing one of my co-workers was a mom, asked her in his booming voice "I always wanted kids. Do you think you could squeeze out another one for me?"
  12. by   cleback
    As a telephone triage nurse:
    "Can antibiotics make you go unresponsive? Asking for my husband."
  13. by   smartassmommy
    Having had a very quick birth, your response to the last one would have been reassuring.
  14. by   Kooky Korky
    I don't think any of these questions are weird. They just reflect the information or lack of it that the particular patient has. They show a need to speak the patient's lingo. They reflect the need the patients have for a good nurse who isn't looking down her nose at them.

    The patients might be experts in other things that we nurses know little to nothing about.

    Be nice, be glad you have the skills and knowledge to help people in their time of need.

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5 Weird Questions Patients have asked me during my career as an OB Nurse