Taking out the trash

Nurses General Nursing


Are any of you expected to take out the trash at work? I'm not talking about picking up after yourself in general, but taking the bag of trash to the soiled utility room.

I got offended when a nurse that followed me felt the need to point out that the trash can in a paitent's room was full and the room a little untidy when I'd left the morning before. I asked if housekeeping wasn't around all day to do it. We are expected to put away soiled linen bags, and pick up after ourselves, but I draw the line at taking out the trash. Housekeeping seems to be stretched a little too thin.. For the record, the patient insisted he wanted to sleep, as he had just recovered from an episode of shortness of breath, so I chose not to make extra noise in the room making it pretty. My other patients room was left spotless however.

What would you think if you went to a dentist, lawyer or gynecologist and you saw them taking out the garbage at their place of business. Aren't we also professionals? Let me know if my thinking is off the wall before I fire off an E-mail to my manager. And thanks for letting me rant :angryfire


7 Posts

Personally, I don't think that taking out the trash is belittling to me (or anyone else as to that matter). I do think that keeping the patient's room tidy is part of my job description, whether in the policy and procedure manual or self-imposed. I take great pride in knowing that I've done everything possible to make my patients as comfortable as I can, including keeping the environment safe and clean. It only takes a moment to clean the room (usually...depending on how the previous nurse left it) and emptying the trash is part of that regimen if it is full.

Specializes in Inpatient Acute Rehab.

We take the trash out of the patient's rooms at the end of our shifts, or before if needed. It helps to keep the odors down, which really helps, esp. if the patient is nauseated. We do not do this for the housekeeping, but we do it for the comfort of the patients.

Katnip, RN

2,904 Posts

In general housekeeping takes out the trash. But if it's overflowing or particularly smelly then we, the nurses or the techs, whoever notices it first takes it out.

It's for patient comfort. I've been told time and time again by patients that a neat room makes them feel more restful.

I've started some shifts where rooms were absolute disasters...always after the same few nurses. I make tidying up a part of my routine when I meet and assess each patient.

Specializes in 5 yrs OR, ASU Pre-Op 2 yr. ER.

If the trash is full, take it out. Personally, if i were the pt. in that bed, a smell and full garbage bag would bother me.

Same thing with the linen bags.


244 Posts

Yeah, I think your making a mountain out of a molehill. Personally, if a trashcan is overflowing I'll take care of it. It's not a big deal to me. I also tidy up the room. And while I'm on a roll I'll ask the patient if they want their hair washed too. Hate to see a patient with messed up hair.


7 Posts

Hmmmm...looks like the general consensus is to empty that trash!! :chuckle

Baby Catcher

86 Posts

"What would you think if you went to a dentist, lawyer or gynecologist and you saw them taking out the garbage at their place of business. Aren't we also professionals? Let me know if my thinking is off the wall before I fire off an E-mail to my manager. And thanks for letting me rant :angryfire"

I would think good for them for seeing a job that needed to be done and doing it. If I went to a doctor for an exam and the trash cans were overflowing with old speculums I would expect the doctor/nurse/tech/secretary or whoever not to think the job was beneath them and to just EMPTY THE TRASH. So in answer to your question I do not think it is beneath a nurse to empty the trash.


1,245 Posts

Yes overflowing trash should be emptied. I let environmental services do their jobs and clean the rooms and if i see one and my room is getting bad i will ask them if they cn get to it, but i will not leave full trashcans at then end of my shift, this is especially the case in isolation rooms where the gowns fill the trash so quickly.

So yes we are professionals and no emptying trash should not be beneath us.


24 Posts

We, as nurses, do a lot of things not in our "job description..." I agree with the general consensus, if the trash is full, I take it out. It's just the right thing to do. None of us on our floor have it as a mandated duty, we just do it.....


1 Article; 1,146 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Education.

Ok - I can agree that a tidy room is within the nurses realm of reasonable responsibility. I can also agree that if the trash is overflowing that is should be taken out of the room. I am totally committed to the patient's comfort, but there are limits to what nurses should have to do :rolleyes: . I have all I can do to manage my patient assignment most days let alone take out garbage. By the time my shift is getting ready to end, I generally still have 3 hours of work to do in about 30 minutes :angryfire . Trust me, taking out the garbage is the last thing on my priority list. I have to agree with VAC in that nurses have a lot of stuff thrust upon them to do. I think that meeting my patient's clinical needs takes priority over taking out garbage. Am I wrong here :uhoh21: ?


2,719 Posts

I own a business I not only take out the trask I clean the toilets, scrub walls and floor an pick up afer people, and I have employees.

I am also a nurse. Taking out the trash is something I gladly do. However, in both setting I set priorities. Sometimes there are more important issues, that take presidence. However, at some point even with those other more important things the trash still must be taken out or it becomes a priority.

I would not get my nose out of joint over the trash with a boss it would not go over well.

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