Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry. They see the most patients and take care of the most people out of anyone else in healthcare. Because of their exposure to people from all different walks of life our nurses have some of wildest, most ridiculous stories.
Real nurses talk about some of the most ridiculously unbelievable things they have had to explain to patients that shouldn't need explaining. From busting down doors to telling someone that they need to change their diaper, these nurses have seen it all.
Vaccines For An Anti-Vaxxer?
“Oh man, I had a lady set up an online appointment for vaccines and she signed up for literal every vaccine available online. Yellow fever, polio, Hep A/B, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, EVERYTHING.
I saw those standard travel vaccines (yellow fever, rabies) and when the lady came in, I asked where she was traveling. I wanted to make sure she would get all her vaccines in time and that her doctor was sending in prescriptions for malaria/polio prophylaxis if needed.
She responded with, ‘I’m not traveling anywhere, I just wanted to get updated on everything before I lose my Medicaid.’
And then refused to get her flu shot because ‘that makes you sick.’
Getting vaccines for something you will never use (such as Japanese encephalitis) could be considered fraud, and if nothing else it’s wasteful. That’s kinda like getting grabbing a handful of napkins with your takeout and throwing them away when you clean your kitchen 3 months later. Also it’s $200-$300 per vaccine on those weird ones. Why risk any side effects on something when your benefit is 0?
Get your rabies vaccine! That sounds really awesome.”
The Spaghetti Strangler
“I was working at OB/GYN clinic and had a nice couple come in. Now, this couple didn’t seem like the sharpest tools in the shed, but I didn’t know they’d ask such a ridiculous question. After asking a few typical questions, the father of the baby had an interesting concern.
He asked me, with full sincerity, ‘So, are there any other dangers to the baby based on diet? Like if she eats spaghetti, is there a chance of it getting caught around the baby’s neck?’
I had to to explain to this concerned husband that his pregnant wife will not strangle the fetus if she eats spaghetti and that it’s a completely different system of organs. For some reason, he didn’t seem to get that any spaghetti, let alone FULLY CHEWED spaghetti would not make it to the baby, and especially not strangle it. I kept explaining that where a baby is kept does not connect to where food goes when you eat it.
He just kept looking at me with the most confused look on his face. I was too flabbergasted that he couldn’t understand to even think of explaining the whole idea of chewing to him.”
Keeping It Regular
“I’m a neuro nurse and I once had a patient who was going into surgery the next morning, meaning they couldn’t have anything to eat or drink after midnight in order to make sure the calculations for the anesthesia were accurate and to make sure nothing was in their system.
Well, at 4am I go into his room to check on the patient and he’s sitting up in bed, drinking a cup of milk and eating cookies that his family had brought him. I rushed over and asked him why he was eating because of the fact that we had told him not to and that he had surgery in a few short hours and his defense was that he has a bowel movement every morning so he figured that he would be okay to eat because ‘it would be out of his system’ before the surgery. Needless to say, we had to explain the reasons for not eating before going under and then notify him that the surgery would be delayed or cancelled because of his actions.
That’s not how this works, grandpa!!! Ugh… Suffice to say, the surgery was cancelled.”
“I happened to receive a call at work from a recently discharged patient who was required to wear adult diapers the following week after her surgery. She was getting up there in age so we assumed she would be calling in with questions regarding medication, procedures, or other post op details, but apparently this was not what she wanted to talk about. Having lived a life as long as she has, I figured she had enough life experience to figure out how a diaper works. I guess not…
She started off the call with:
‘So I’m wearing these Depends…’
‘Do I need to change them everyday?’ (Mega eye roll)
‘Uhh yeah… or when they’re soiled.’
‘Okay and should I clean myself up after that?’
‘Yes. Yes, please.’
We thought we were being punked! She had gone multiple days without changing her diaper and was just sitting in her own mess! I thought that everyone had the common sense to think ‘Hey, maybe I should change or wash this diaper because it’s filthy’ but I guess not. Looking back at it, I should have just responded to her initial question with: ‘Well, that depends.’ “
First Time Father
“I had some first time parents on my ward with their three day old jaundiced baby. They seemed a little shaken up so I approached them to see if I could help. The conversation went as follows…
Mom: ‘I don’t know why this is happening, I was so careful with everything I ate!’
Me: ‘You did a beautiful job, this happens with a lot of babies and it is nothing that you did wrong. You can’t control whether or not your baby gets jaundice.’
Dad: ‘I know you said there’s nothing she did or ate, but I was using a lot of supplements while she was pregnant… Is there any way it could have been something I ate?’
Me: ‘…no… You, you can’t affect the baby like that. It doesn’t work like that.’
He was so shaken up about the possibility that he was the reason his child had jaundice that I felt bad for him. I proceeded to spend the next 5 minutes explaining how he did not share a blood supply with the baby so there was basically no chance that his dietary supplements caused his babies jaundice. He still didn’t get it. I didn’t think it was that hard to understand. If he didn’t seem so serious I would have been dying laughing by that point. “
I Found Something In Your Ear!
“I am a school nurse at a kindergarten and have had some insane stories over the years. One of the most recent ones involved a little boy and some rock salt. While he was out on the playground for recess, he found rock salt on the blacktop. He thought it looked cool and wanted to keep it so naturally, as all kindergarteners would, he did. When it was time to go back inside, he was afraid his teacher would see it and take it away from him, so he decided to hide it. Unfortunately, his larger gloves, and probably less-developed fine motor skills, kept him from being able to fit the handful of rock salt into his pockets. So being the creative problem solver that he was, he shoved some of his precious rock salt into the only other place he could think of, deep down in his ear.
After coming inside, the child started to complain of pain and showed the teacher the precious treasure he had found, she sent him to the nurse’s office immediately. After taking a look, I saw that it was so far in, I did not feel comfortable attempting the removal in the office (school nurses have lots of training, but limitations on supplies, rules set by the district, and overprotective parents can really keep school nurses’ hands tied) so we needed to get the kid to the doctor as soon as possible. I got the phone and called the parents who were furious at me, the child, and the teacher for letting this all happen. Imagine needing to explain to a concerned parent that they have to take their kid to the emergency room to remove rock salt he stuffed into his own ear for safe keeping.
This did, however, lead to one of the things that I thought I would never had to tell a student. ‘Although it might seem like a really good idea, don’t hide stuff in your ear'” He was apologetic, but I’m not sure if it was because he was actually sorry or because of the fact that he was in so much pain from the massive chunk of rock salt lodged deep into his ear. “
Family Trip To The Radioactive Ward
“We had a male in for surgery (punched a wall or some such nonsense) and he decided to bring his entire family, to include wife, three infants, two toddlers, and three teens. Oh, and mother-in-law to boot.
Patient’s been waiting hours for surgery, so he decided to steal one of the free sandwiches from our STAFF ONLY kitchen and he’s irate – who knew aspiration could be so dangerous huh. We suggest the family goes home and we’ll call them when he’s ready. You’d think I’d just offered to sacrifice his firstborn child to the NHS. He starts screaming at me and the other nurses he wants surgery now etc.
We just leave him to it and close the door. The kids are fractious at this stage and are playing tag up and down the ward corridor, almost banging into a few frail patients. I shout at the boy to stop before he ran into the catering lady who was carrying a tray of tea. Father didn’t like that and rambles on about how kids are kids and I need to stop complaining. He gets up in my face and I call security which calms them down.
I tell him the ward is full of infectious people with CPE/CD/MRSA and if he wants to keep them here, they all need to stay in the waiting room, and they close the door. I’m back at the nurse’s station doing my documentation when I catch the wife waddling from the clearly marked PATIENT ONLY male bathroom. I walk up there and ask if she’s just used the bathroom. She said she has. I ask her did she not see the huge yellow sign saying male patients only – radioactive hazard
From her waddle, I ask if she’s pregnant, with the smarmiest look on her face and thinking I want to blab about the fetus I have no interest in, I pull down the door sign and ask her to read it.
Her face absolutely drops. I tell her she needs to leave the ward with her children NOW. A hospital isn’t a playground. The delay was because of her husband’s foolishness. Time has been wasted from all ends because of their behavior and she needs to visit her primary doctor to check whether her using the clearly marked patient bathroom will affect the fetus.
The husband is fuming, security is again called and they all leave, sans surgery. I literally document everything and as far as I’m aware, he refused to come back for surgery at our hospital.
Patient A Needs A New Knee
“‘Patient A’ had the worst knee ‘blow out’ I’ve ever seen. The only thing left is a roughed up PCL (posterior ligament). The fact that this patient crutched in was outrageous, but the patient was just referred to me through a colleague and boy did I not know what I was getting in to.
I ordered an X-ray right in front of Patient A. Pretty standard. As I’m busy, I tell Patient A that the X-ray tech will be with them soon and that I was going to see my next patient, Patient B, who was scheduled in about 2 minutes ago. I had to keep explaining to Patient A that I would be right back with the X-rays to explain their options and further with a surgical date or care options. I finally get out of patient A’s room and walk down the hall with them watching me walk down the hall to another room where my Patient B has been booked in for. Patient B was in for a follow up (final check up) of sorts.
As I’m talking with the patient and examining the ‘operation area,’ checking for pain etc.. Then all of a sudden I hear an, ‘Excuse me!’ This person actually bust in the room while I’m with Patient B. They started yelling ‘Fix my knee’ along with some rather unkind language. I had to explain that I could not just fix their knee in a single day. This went on for an hour or so as Patient A kept escalating and I do my best to extinguish the issue in a professional manner.
Long story short, we called Patient A’s family and security and they had to take Patient A out of the building in a wheel chair after their family apologized and made them leave. He would think that you could fix a knee in one day? Do I have some magic wand that magically fixes your torn ligaments? Do I say the proper spell and you can walk again? I don’t think so bud.
I get back to patient B and I am apologizing like nobody’s business and they just look at me and go, ‘Mondays right?’ It was in fact Monday.
Best patient ever.”
“‘Please do not take your loved one out of his body bag and take pictures of him.’
Earlier in the day, the patient had coded with about 10 family members in the room. The sound of their screaming drowned out the code bell (which is very loud). All of the people responding, myself included, couldn’t even get to the patient because of how crowded it was in the room. After getting everyone out (including one family member having to drag another out who had fallen out), we coded the patient. They lived that code, but coded again about 20 minutes later and did not survive.
We give the families a maximum of four hours with the patient after they pass away. We also have a very strict no photos policy in the ICU. They got their full 4 hours. Family finally all left and the nurse waited about 15 minutes to make sure they were really gone like they said. We did post mortem care and put the patient in a body bag. We put a sign that said ‘see nurse before entering’ on the door. Turns out some of the family decided to come back. They slipped in the unit and went right in the room past the sign. The nurse who had the patient was in the bathroom so I went into the room. I walk in and see the patient has been un-zipped and is halfway out of the body bag. About 6 people are standing around him all with their phones out, holding them up in the air taking pictures. So casual, like they are trying to get a good angle of their food for Instagram. Could not believe that I had to explain they could not take photos and had to leave as I zipped him back into his body bag.”
Wait, This Doesn’t Go In My Nose?
“I was working at an Indian services clinic a few years ago. We prescribe a guy Flonase (nasal spray primarily for allergies) which starts a conversation:
Guy: ‘Will this nasal spray give me anxiety like the last one I had?’
Me: ‘This shouldn’t cause anxiety, let me check your chart to see what it was you had before.’
I start trying to find which medication he had been prescribed previously but he says: “I just threw it away in the trash out front, do you want me to go grab it?”
Me: ‘No that’s OK, it will be in your chart and I won’t make you go rummage through the trash.’
Unfortunately I don’t see any evidence of this dude ever having another nasal spray. And at this point he insists that he is going to grab it from the trash. He grabs exam gloves from the box on the table (smart move, weirdo) and leaves the room. I can’t stop him.
He comes back a few minutes later with an albuterol inhaler. I’m perplexed.
‘Can you tell me how you use that, you don’t need to actually show me, since that came from the trash.’
This man had NO idea what to do with the inhaler. Dude tries his darndest to shove the opening of the inhaler that had literally just been in the garbage can and meant for your MOUTH into his nostril, gives it a squirt and a snort.
I told him he was doing it incorrectly and that it was, indeed, not a nasal spray and that it was an inhaler. So yeah…we talked about the difference between nasal spray and an inhaler for a good minute or so with him not really understanding the difference until the very end of the conversation, but even then, I’m not 100% sure if he exactly understood what I was talking about… I hope he learned. “
More Is Always Better
“I had a patient that was on some heart medication and he came in so that we could talk about possibly switching medications. I told him, ‘You’re currently taking these two pills for your heart disease, but they’re not working as well any more, so you now need to take one of these new pills instead.’ He looked confused and asked me, ‘Shouldn’t I take two of them then?’
This is actually more common than you think so I simply replied, ‘No, it’s a different medicine, so the dosage is different. More doesn’t necessarily mean better and you need to be careful when it comes to heart medications.’ Again, super confused, ‘But surely two pills is better than one? Why are you only giving me one pill now? Are you trying to make me worse?’
I almost lost it. ‘No, it’s a new medication that works in a different way, so you only need one. It will work perfectly well.’ At this point I’m trying my best to not look at this man like an imbecile. ‘But two pills is better than one. I’m just going to take two of them’ ‘Sir, don’t do that – that will be an overdose and you might get very ill.’
He did it! He finally understood what I was saying and I felt relieved. But then he broke my heart and said – deadpan, to my face, ‘Oh, ok. Fine. Actually, these new pills are really small compared to the old ones. Looks like I should take about 8 of them to be equivalent to the old ones. Shall I take 8?’
I was done at that point. I didn’t know how to get the idea into the man’s head so I just said, ‘No. That will kill you.’ I never thought explaining how to take medicine would be so hard for someone to figure out. “
The Salami Cure
“I have to say the dumbest patient I had was not a patient but the patient’s mother. This child, I want to say she was about 7 years old or so, was tested for meningitis because she had the symptoms. After any lumbar puncture, you HAVE to stay lying down, completely, 180 degrees. No inclinations. For a few hours. And drink a lot of liquids to counter act the massive migraine that comes as a side effect to the procedure. Pretty standard stuff.
Welp, this special ray of sunshine whose daughter I had to care for, asked me 2 questions, 2 very important questions. 1. Where are the straps? Me, of course, being an extremely confused nursing student ask her ‘what straps’. To which she replies: 2. the straps so my baby won’t fall down? You know, you have to keep her upside down now so she doesn’t leak all her ‘back fluids’.
This…lady…thought we had to hang her child upside down like a fricking curing salami to prevent fluids from a very small puncture from leaking….
At this point you’re thinking: Well its simple right? Just tell her how it works. Believe me I did…result? ‘You’re not a doctor! You’re an idiot that couldn’t get into med school and you aren’t even a graduate! You’re going to kill my daughter!’ Thankfully her outburst drew attention of several staff, including a couple of doctors who proceeded to explain to her EXACTLY what I did. She proceeded to feign ignorance and say that I didn’t tell her when I SPECIFICALLY took a good chunk of time explaining it in detail to her as to why she needed to stay lying down and even offered water to her daughter. Her 7 year old was more afraid of her mother than the needle she took to the back, which she said didn’t even hurt. Seriously, that gal was made of steel.
So in the end, I learned two things: 1. you can’t fix stupid, no matter how much you try to educate it and 2. get help when this level of dumb happens. More than one person telling them the same thing generally helps subdue stubborn rage. Generally.
Needless to say, I absolutely hate pediatric nursing and not even because of the kids, they are super fun, but how insane the fricking parents get. They act like bigger spoiled children than the kids you care for. “
My Kidneys Aren’t In The Right Place
“I had a patient who was concerned to the point of a panic attack that after delivering her baby, her ‘kidneys might be falling back into the wrong place!’
I felt terrible for her and I had to explain that while, yes, pregnancy does cause internal organs to shift around (look a video up online, this stuff is crazy), human beings are not just sacks of fluid with organs floating around slippery slide-squishing all up against each other and then squelching back down again all willy nilly.
The poor thing was so worried. There are a lot of strange sensations in the weeks following delivery so I can only imagine how scared she was and the pain she was going though. I’ve had pregnant patients who didn’t even know about the three ‘holes’ women have- just really basic stuff. It shocks me that someone could know so little about their own body and what is actually going on to it. So I guess if there are people our education system has failed that horribly then this poor girl wasn’t that outlandish in the scheme of things.”