20 Things Nurses Wish They Never Had to Say

OK, I'll have to admit that I got the idea for this piece from a desk calendar my sister gave me for Christmas last year. It's 365 pages of nursing funnies, some of which really aren't, but the rest of them range from the mildly amusing to rolling-on-the-floor-with-tears-squirting-out-of-your-eyes HILARIOUS. And after having the kind of Hell Week I just went through, I needed the comic relief of "How in the world did THAT get in THERE??!" Nurses General Nursing Article

20 Things Nurses Wish They Never Had to Say

Here, for your enjoyment, are twenty more things nurses wish they never had to say:

1) To the CNA: "Uh-oh........it looks like Mrs. Chambers hasn't had a BM in nine days."

2) To the patient with Munchausen's Syndrome: "No, I can't give you any more pain medicine," when what you'd really like is to swack him up with enough Dilaudid to shut him up about his manufactured miseries for a few hours.

3) To co-workers, upon seeing a frequent flyer coming up in the elevator: "Oh, Lordy......look at what the cat dragged in."

4) To the MD: "You want me to do WHAT?"

5) To your best friend's 10-year-old: "No, Eric, you're not a dork. Everybody gets their big toe stuck in the bathtub faucet at least once."

6) To a frantic grandparent calling to ask what to do about the thirteen-month-old who just consumed one of their Pall Malls: "How soon can you get him to the hospital?"

7) To any mother: "Your child has head lice."

? To your son who's faking illness to get out of going to school: "If there's no blood, no broken bones, and no passing out, I'm not impressed." (You're tempted to introduce him to your Munchausen's patient so he can see what happens to malingerers.)

9) To the babysitter: "I'm sorry, I can't pick up the kids yet.......got another half-hour of charting to do........I'll be there as soon as I can."

10) To your husband: "Not tonight, honey, I've got a backache."

11) To your boss: "Why, of course I'll pull a double tonight."

12) To the patient with a six-inch-long screwdriver in his rectum: "What were you thinking?!", because you really want to know why a full-grown man would put such an object in an orifice that was intended as an EXIT rather than an entry.

13) To your spouse: "Sorry, honey, looks like I'm working late again.....don't worry about fixing me anything, I'll just grab something at Mickey D's on the way home."

14) To the confused resident who keeps asking you about her cat---which has probably been dead for the past 30 years---as you push your med cart down the hall: "I'm sure Fluffy is somewhere around the neighborhood, Mrs. Jones, but I really can't go with you to look for her right now."

15) To any GYN patient: "Can you please scoot down.......a little more........a little more.......there." Every woman alive knows what "scoot down" means, and believe me, nurses don't like the stirrups any better than patients do!

16) To the unit secretary: "I'm sorry to bug you, Tina, but I reallyreallyreallyreallyREALLY need these orders processed right away, couldya please put them in ASAP, huh, couldya, pretty-please-with-sugar-on-top? Thanks, you're a doll!"

17) To PT/OT/ST: "Next time you take my patient off the floor, would you please let me know so I don't freak out when I can't find him?" (I used to LOATHE this habit of theirs when I was working in acute care. I hope it's gotten better in the years since I left....but somehow I doubt it.)

18) To the new parents flummoxed by the car seat they are supposed to take their baby home in: "Uh...excuse me. Do you know how to use that thing?" (Because that obligates you to teach them to use it.....oy.)

19) To the idiot-sticks who run long-term care pharmacies: "You're the fifth person in the past hour who's called to ask me the same questions about that medication. Don't you people ever TALK to one another?"

20) To the Grand Pooh-Bahs who have never walked a hard linoleum floor in our battered NurseMates: "Oh, of COURSE I don't mind standing while I chart/working an entire 12-hour shift without eating or peeing/turning bariatric patients on my own/running back and forth to find equipment/fill in the blank."

After all, we are nurses, and we love what we do.........right? RIGHT?? ;)

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

I'm a Registered Nurse and writer who, in better times, has enjoyed a busy and varied career which includes stints as a Med/Surg floor nurse, a director of nursing, a nurse consultant, and an assistant administrator. And when I'm not working as a nurse, I'm writing about nursing right here at allnurses.com and putting together the chapters for a future book about---what else?---nursing.

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Specializes in Paediatrics.

Really loved this :) Made me laugh. Hope you continue putting out more articles!

7) To any mother: "Your child has head lice."

This one has always been one of my dreaded moments. Trying to tell a mum in a four bed bay, with other busybody mothers hanging around can be a trick in itself. I remember wanting to smack myself in the forehead when for one lady she sat down on the bed, as she'd never seen a head louse before. Pluck one out and go "Oh look at all its legs!" She was quite fascinated, then she proceeded to drop them all into her tea cup so the child and her could watch them drown. I felt really unwell...I shall never look at the hospital teacups the same again!

Specializes in ICU, Telemetry.

Things I wish I never had to say:

  1. I don't care if he has COPD, if his O2 sat is 70, you can bump up the 1L O2 by NC (this really happened, and the patient was a lovely shade of Carolina Blue)
  2. Did you do a bladder scan, or did you think the patient has an orange in their bladder for some reason?
  3. Your patient's temp is 93, their urine looks like pus, and their WBCs are in the 30's...you think MAYBE you need to call the doc and get some ABX?
  4. So you've been turning the patient every 2 hours...then how long have you let the ink pen be under them?
    • So your patient's skin is coming off in sheets, they're blood red, and you just told me that you "hurried up the vanc" so that you could get the Cipro on board. Red man's syndrome, ever heard of it?
    • You've been doing good mouth care, lots of suctioning? Then were's the suction canister, the canister holder, OR the suction device in the wall?
    • PEA, ever heard of it?
    • "Ma'am, your husband's become much worse, and you really need to return to the ICU....I'm sorry if you're at Belks and they're having a sale...no ma'am, I don't think you can come see him tomorrow....ma'am, your husband's heart has just stopped and we're in the process of performing CPR, you need to come back immediately ...I'm sorry if you have a lot of things to check out and the line's long, you really, really need to come back...well then can you tell me what funeral home you intend to use?"
    • You gave me report on pedal pulses on someone who's a bilateral AKA. And you missed the fact that they have a dialysis cath, a triple lumen, and a pacemaker. And I don't think 'oh, you can finish the admission' is going to make me like you any more, since the patient hit the unit 10 hours ago and that was the only admission of the day, and nobody had a procedure or got transfered out."

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

And there's always this little gem, said to parents who bring toddlers to the ER with a persistent fever that just spiked at 105 degrees: "And you haven't given her any Tylenol because---?" :uhoh3:

Specializes in ER.

"I'm sorry. I have no idea how you are going to get home. No, we dont give people cab vouchers anymore because people abused them. How did you get here? You don't know a single person who can come pick you up? No one?"

Specializes in Nephrology.

I work in an outpatient renal transplant clinic. I have just over 200 pts who I follow from the time they get their transplant until they either die or they are back on dialysis. Our doctors are physically in the clinic two half days a week. Otherwise we deal with everything over the phone. Usually when pts get sent for tests (U/S, CT scans, MRI, etc) we see the reports bvefore the docs do. In fact, we give the doctors the information and they;ll actully look at the report next time they are in the clinic. The two things I hate to tell pts:

1. I'm sorry to have to tell you that your transplanted kidney has/is failing and we are referring you back to the nephrologists so that you can be started on dialysis again. (I hate this because it is often a death sentence for my pts.)

2. (When the pt calls askng for test results, that I have seen and they are showing something pretty nasty....) Yes I have seen the results. It does show some lesions on your liver and the doctors want to admit you to figure out exaclty what they are. No, I am not sure exactly what they are thinking but they want to be sure we aren't missing something. (As the docs have already told me they are 100% certain that it is liver mets from an unknown primary Ca). If the pt calls before I have not had a chance to talk to the docs, I have been known to say something like "It does show something but I am not really good at interpreting these things. I'd rather wait until I have spoken to the doctor so that I am sure I am not giving you wrong information." I just hate having these conversations over the phone, but we often don't have a choice. One of our doctors, if she has really bad news for a pt, will mak a special trip to the clinic and ask us to bring in the pt and she will break it to them face to face, and always wants the pt's nurse there. (She wants us to know exactly what she has told the pt, because they often have questions when they go home and we are the one they will call with questions. We appreciate that, so do the pts.) We have one doc who routinely tries to dump it on us to tell the pts the bad news. He'll say "Just tell him it is Ca. Send him to oncology, but I doubt they can do anything at this point. Just tell him what it is and that he had better get his affairs in order." I usually tell this doc if I wanted to tell a pt they were never going to get better I would have been a doctor. Most of our docs are pretty good and will talk to the pt themselves. I just hate though having to make the call saying that "Dr _________ wants to talk to you about your CT scan. Here he is. (Or he wants you to come into clinic. How soon can you get here?"

Specializes in OB, Med/Surg, Ortho, ICU.
And there's always this little gem, said to parents who bring toddlers to the ER with a persistent fever that just spiked at 105 degrees: "And you haven't given her any Tylenol because---?" :uhoh3:

And the grand majority say, "I didn't think you'd believe me if I brought it down." No. 2 reason-didn't bother, had to go for a cigarette run first.

Specializes in Family Medicine, Tele/Cardiac, Camp.
"I'm sorry. I have no idea how you are going to get home. No, we dont give people cab vouchers anymore because people abused them. How did you get here? You don't know a single person who can come pick you up? No one?"

I hear you, but I have to sympathize a bit on this one. I always have an emergency $20 or $50 in my wallet (and I tell my patients to carry one too) for a taxi because I live in a city. And if I have to leave a hospital after a certain hour, I can't take the bus or train that brought me there. I'm not lying at all when I say that of my many friends here, I know only 2 who own cars.

Specializes in CCT.
And the grand majority say, "I didn't think you'd believe me if I brought it down."

I refer to this as "fishing for the admit".

Sorry to get off topic but I had a question?** if I got a ppd test done which had no wheal and received positive results is it possible the results are affected by the incorrect administration??? I'm kind of upset and think the doctor was trying to cover up her nurses mistake and said there is no need for a wheal??* I'm not crazy I had this shot before I just wanted more info and the Dr seem like she was doing more hiding then explaining

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

I'm sorry, we can't answer medical questions or offer advice here. Your best bet is to consult with another doctor, nurse practitioner or physician's assistant at the clinic where you got your PPD done, as they will know what kind of TB test you were given and can answer your questions more accurately. Best of luck to you.

Specializes in ER.

#1. I know what you have just been through. I'm so sorry- but you and your husband deserve a chance to hold/see/name/kiss your baby before I send him to the morgue.

2. No, I can NOT tell you how long it's going to be before the MD has time to review your G-mas stupid c/o "Weak and dizzy and generally bad" complaint....that has been going on for 3 months.....That you have been STUPID enough not to contact a primary MD about.( OK, a recurrent fantasy about what I would LOVE to say...)

3. Yes , you ARE in fact pregnant.....I understand Mr. xyz has had a vasectomy, but you ARE crowning..

4. Mr's "Married for 63 yrs...."Your husband has taken a turn for the worse, and you need to come in. OK. Thank you. As I hang up the phone.... "Please clean him up before the family gets here.....make sure to have the shroud in another area.

5.Well, It's a little worse than the MDs thought originally.

6.No. I don't know how long it's going to be before she has a bed and can go up to the floor.

7. "Hi, this is Jen from the ED. I know you are slammed and understaffed...as are we, but I really DO need to call report to the floor at 0545."

There are oh so many..................