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There is no such thing as a dumb question. But seriously, there is.


As a new grad, I am often reminded of the mantra "there is no such thing as a stupid question" every time I get that sheepish "I have a question" look on my face.

I almost started to believe it was true too. Just so long as you weren't asking something out of laziness, and you were truly asking to make sure you were doing the best job possible.

But then....last night. That is when I became acutely aware of the additional importance of the right time and place for a question.

I was working alongside an older traveler. Sweet as can be, but sometimes a little thick and reluctant to do things according to the policies or methods endorsed by our facility. She had been asking me various questions about our DKA protocol all night, and just couldn't come to terms with the part that stated that a patient is to remain strict NPO until the insulin drip was turned off. She strongly felt that she should be able to give this patient a sugar free jello and kept asking me my thoughts. I replied that according to the protocol (and common sense), as well as the written orders on the patient that also said strict NPO, that I personally wouldn't give him jello. Right about then they called a code three doors down so I forgot all about the silly jello problem.

A few minutes later: full on code scene down the hall. Crash cart wide open, I had just pushed some versed and etomidate, the MD is literally about to start placing the ET....along comes my traveler friend. Steps in the room and shouts over all the alarms and beeps: "Excuse me Doctor Soandso, I noticed you had my DKA in room 34 as a strict NPO. Would you mind if I changed it to a diabetic diet and gave him some jello?"

It was a true record scratch sort of moment as jaws hit the ground and it felt like time skipped a beat. The words that came out of the doctors mouth are probably not appropriate to put here, but in summary she asked someone to get that nurse out of the room.

I walked to my car that morning thinking, wow. So I guess there really is such a thing as a stupid question after all.

Jello pushers, I swear... ;)

This made me laugh, OP! Thanks for sharing!

There may be no such thing as a stupid question, but there is a time and a place for everything too!

KelRN215, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pedi. Has 10 years experience.

There most definitely is such a thing as a stupid question. That is an example of one. Here is another one. Child's parent: "I never gave my kid the tamiflu that was prescribed. Can I just give it to you and you can give it to another one of your patients?" Seriously. Same woman has asked me several times if she can give me "extra" of her kids' medications and doesn't understand why it's a problem if she goes into the STERILE central line dressing kit to take out a piece of gauze (and touches everything in the process) and stares at us like we have 10 heads when we tell her said kit is no longer useable.

Thanks for the post OP, I needed a laugh today...


I'm usually a huge believer in the "no such thing as a stupid question" thing but wow....that was pretty ,err, silly...to put it nicely...:sarcastic:

Pt wheeled in to ER being coded. Asystole so I take over compressions from the squad. after a couple rounds of epi with no success.

I am still doing compressions when a nurse who is trying to chart ask "What is his blood pressure". The doc didn't miss a beat when he turned around and said "Ask Scott how hard he is pressing" The look on her face when she put it together was priceless. ;

I cringe every time I hear my profs say there is no stupid questions. I just wait because I know the next question coming will prove them wrong.

in anatomy class while studying neurons the prof said that the brain burned a lot of energy. Next thing you know she is calling on a kid who asks, " does that mean if a person thinks really hard they can loose weight?"

unfortunately this turned into a discussion that took up about 15 minutes of class.

akulahawkRN, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in Emergency Department. Has 5 years experience.

I'm actually a believer in "there's no dumb questions". I really am. I am also very much a believer in there being "stupid questions". What's the difference? A dumb question is one where the person doesn't know something and wants to know. A stupid question is one that the person asking should by all means know the answer... but asks anyway, often because the lights are on but nobody's home at the moment.

Oh, and the actual question can be the same.

What's one plus one?

Dumb question: from someone who never has learned math, wants to know.

Stupid question: from someone who is a math whiz, especially at basic math.

malamud69, ADN, BSN, EMT-B

Specializes in Emergency. Has 10 years experience.

It's all perspective right? Some would say one plus one is eleven...obviously the OP's story was ridiculous if not frustrating...but what is more frustrating is when people don't seem to understand that "common sense" is not "common" at all and certainly won't make "sense" until somebody learns/understands/knows-and yes this occurs from asking questions: "good/bad/dumb/stupid...poorly timed" a person does not magically know things...even to not ask poorly timed questions during a code-of course...less is more and never forget-we are simply dealing with other humans-don't expect too much...

Wow! Just wow! ... ...