Nurses encounter a unique cast of characters every day, from the excessively grumpy to the delightfully clueless to the surprisingly sweet, all of whom set the stage for humorous patient anecdotes and bizarre patient care stories. Check out these 15 real-world nurse funnies pulled from the Internet that help explain why nurses have such a weird sense of humor.
1. New Mom Demands Refund
After hours of tortuous labor, most women are ready to meet their new little arrival. Not this one! As the baby's head was crowning, my patient loudly shrieked, "Put it back!" I'm afraid it's not that easy!
2. Someone's Blowing Smoke
I had a patient tell me smoking was her method of birth control because she'd heard that infertility was a side effect of smoking.
3. Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire
We all gathered around the bed of a patient having a grand mal seizure, watching her arms and legs shaking uncontrollably. Except, there were whispers that maybe she was faking it. I reached over and gently tugged the pillow out from under her head. She quickly reached out with her hand, grabbed it, tucked it back under her head, and kept 'seizing.' Busted!
4. Come Again?
A patient once wrote they had had a 'fatal heart attack' on their intake form.
5. What's Grosser than Gross?
It's difficult to empathize when your kindergarten teacher friend meets you after work and complains of wiping runny noses all day, but during your shift, you cleaned blood and poop off the bed, floors, and walls. You also suctioned green and yellow snot out of noses and mouths with a Yankauer and emptied a couple of 30-ounce wall suction containers of brownish-colored drainage topped with beige foam. Nurses can only laugh at the preposterous comparison.
6. Smoke ˈEm if You Got ˈEm
One day, I helped a post-operative patient standing precariously beside his bed while using the urinal. He was weak and swaying from side to side, trying to keep his balance. I assisted him back into bed, straining my back to lift his legs. Not more than 15 minutes later, the respiratory therapist asked me who the man standing in the doorway of my patient's room might be. I saw a jaunty, older gentleman dressed in pants, an outdoor coat, and an English-style flat cap on his head. I peered closer. He had a hospital gown tucked into his pants. This man who could barely stand just a few minutes before was ready to go out for a smoke! How was that possible?
7. Fashion Faux Pas
I was so embarrassed when I didn't recognize a co-worker while shopping. These words popped out of my mouth, and I couldn't take them back. "Oh, you look different when you're wearing clothes." I had only ever seen him at work wearing scrubs. We both knew what I meant—but it was funny and embarrassing at the same time.
8. We're Going Streaking!
One evening, we had a very confused patient, and nothing we did seemed to calm him down. Suddenly, he bolted out of bed, down a short hallway, and out the usually locked Intensive Care Unit doors—except they were open because the clerk had just let in some visitors. He headed down the hallway towards the laboratory with his gown streaming behind him. It took a few minutes to catch up. He had his hospital shirt on backward and was otherwise naked. I'm glad there were no visitors in the hallway.
9. Someone Needs a Mint
My first patient with a colostomy was this old, grumpy man. When I started taking off his bag, it smelled so bad my eyes were watering. I kept telling myself to think about his feelings and not to let anything show on my face. He looked at me and said, 'God, you've got bad breath!'"
10. Okay, Karen
I had admitted a pleasantly sleepy lady the night before. I couldn't understand why her husband kept trying to give me instructions on how to look after her. This evening, she was wide awake, and I heard her strident voice above the murmur of reports being given during shift change.
"My leg hurts. My leg hurts. My leg hurts." It was constant. My second patient was very ill, but I decided to address this lady's noisy demands first. "My leg hurts. Can I see my family? My leg hurts." There were no empty spaces between her litany of words. I drew up a smidgen of narcotic from a vial and injected it subcutaneously (SC) into her arm. She had instant relief. If you're not a nurse and are reading this, a SC injection takes at least 10 to 15 minutes before taking effect.
After a couple of hours of silence, it started again. "I need my water, I need my water, I need my water, the sound doesn't work." She barely took a breath between each of her sentences. I pushed the bedside table close to her so she could reach her water, gave her a remote, and got her a pair of earphones. It continued, only now it was, "I can't find the channel. I can't find the channel. Why don't you look after me? I need my fan moved."
I pulled her curtain back to see where the fan was, then walked about 40 feet to the other side of the ICU to compose myself. I returned, pulled her fan closer to the bed, and adjusted the rotor head. She muttered loud enough so the other staff and patients could hear, "I hope you didn't exert yourself." I now understood her husband's anxiety and instructions. I could laugh or cry. I chose to laugh.
11. Silent Protest Turns Noisy
Our Intensive Care Unit has some open beds, meaning they only have curtains to pull around them for privacy. Patients admitted for observation love to watch the real-life drama taking place. Sometimes, it was just as exciting as watching ER or Grey's Anatomy in real life. However, it also meant that chatty patients often talk non-stop to nurses sitting about 15 feet away who were trying to chart. One evening, we'd had enough of one patient's interruptions—so we closed his curtains, hoping that being out-of-sight-out-of-mind would work. The silence lasted for just a few minutes—then we started hearing loud belching and farting from behind the curtain. He wanted to make sure that we didn't forget him!
12. Paging Dr. Shelf-Elf
One Christmas, we turned an ICU physician into an elf on the shelf. One creative nurse cut out a picture of the physician's head and added elf ears and a hat. She glued it onto a miniature stuffed body with bendable arms and dressed it in a tiny lab coat. Each morning, the staff discovered Dr. Shelf-Elf doing something different, such as monitoring Barbie's heart rhythm or starting an arterial line. Despite the addition of buck teeth—the doctor was a good sport, and the staff enjoyed the fun!
13. Post-Op Punch-Out
We called a Code White for a three-day post-operative patient who had suddenly become violent. He was hitting the nurses and trying to get out of bed. We tried unsuccessfully to dodge the punches, so we could inject a calming medication into his intravenous line, which was stretched dangerously tight between the pump and his arm. Security guards arrived and restrained him. When we admit patients to the ICU, we always ask how much alcohol they drink so that we can give appropriate medication to ward off delirium tremens. He had emphatically told us that he had quit drinking. He had—the night before his surgery.
14. Cat-Astrophe Averted
We had a patient complaining that the cat allergy medicine we gave her wasn't working (formulated in an inhaler). As it turns out, she was spraying the inhaler on her cat. We had to tell her that she needed to inhale it.
15. Talk About Bad Timing
We were running a Code Blue in a four-bed patient room. Someone quickly closed the curtains around the other three beds, which shut out the images but not the sound and the light. Crowded around Bed 2 were the ICU nurse, nurses from the cardiac unit and the emergency department, several unit nurses, an LPN doing CPR, and a couple more lined up to take over. The other three patients in the room could not help but hear what was happening. The call bell light came on in Bed 4. Her request was a drink of water. She couldn't wait for us to save the other patient's life before she got a drink.
Well, there you have it. We hope you enjoyed this collection of nurse funnies that showcase the awkward side of patient care, offering a glimpse into the bizarre, charming, and downright hilarious moments that shape a nurse's weird sense of humor.
Disclaimer: When nurses share humorous patient anecdotes, they're laughing to cover up the sad parts of their job. However, readers should know that nurses and healthcare professionals take their patients' welfare seriously and give their best care.
Alice Blackmore, MN, RN, Content Writer
Alice is a registered nurse and healthcare writer. She has more than 20 years of nursing experience, which ranges from labor and delivery to long-term care, with pediatrics, community nursing, and critical care sandwiched in the middle.