Urban Legends.

Posted on April 17, 2008. Filed under: Benign |


As part of my unending mission to find amusing nursing stories, I recently received an email from Melanie Herson telling a funny nursing story… 

About a someone who…”was doing a shift with a student nurse, and looking after a patient on complete bed rest. The student nurse took this word for word & when the patient needed a commode she heaved the commode ONTO the bed & there he sat on the commode on the bed. My friend said she walked down the ward & all she could see was the top of his head peaking over the screens. True story”.

Hmmmm, I’ve heard this before. It is always about a girl who worked with a friend and the tale is never told in the first person.

Quite frankly I find it difficult to believe. Not only would the student have to be bloody stupid, but the patient too.  Adding the fact that the Moscow State Circus would find it difficult to balance a patient on a commode on a single hospital bed. 

Featuring Rhinitis the Sneezing clown!

Then taking into account the patient is probably quite unwell if on bed rest and therefore unlikely to be capable of performing such an act, it all seems a little far fetched.

None the less this did get me thinking about other Nursing Urban Legends.

During my training and life in general I have moved about a fair bit, and on occasions you hear the same stories that happened “once” or happened to “a friend of a friend”  The commode on the bed is a bit of a classic, it just might have happened once, but as stated, I have my doubts.

The other that springs to mind, is again a student nurse (poor blighters even get blamed for things in fiction), who was advised to clean the patients teeth and so collected up every patients false teeth putting them into soak in one big bowl, and then had difficulty pairing them back up again… I’m not saying this definately didn’t happen but….lets look at what we know.

Generally, ward staff might assist a patient to get ready for bed – sure, and they do ob’s rounds 4hrs T.P.R’s etc. However I can’t imagine anyone coming up with a combination – eg – nurse one washes their faces, nurse two cleans their teeth etc.  (nurse three puts a commode on the bed)…

Now for the commode on the bed tale, I did say that whoever invented the story forgot to think about the patient.  In generally they are at least partly intelligent creature and would say “What the hell are you doing trying to get me to balance up here?” In the denture story the patient advising the nurse not to walk off with their dentures does seem likely, but would anyone understand the gummy patient saying:

“Mare arb ew goon wib me teep?”

Hmmmm, not convincing.

Now I’m sure there are lots of other Nursing Urban Legends/myths, but none more spring to mind.  So feel free to join in…(as always).

Incidentally the story about the student nurse leaving the main ward to get some milk for a patient and not coming back for 30 minutes is true, that was me… We had a special milk fridge (bit like a cool water system, but for milk), the tap came off in my hands, milk started spraying everywhere and  I had to pinch the plastic pipe together, and wait for someone to finally wonder where the hell I (or the milk) was.

The little dutch boy with his finger in the dyke….hmmm isn’t that some seedy porn movie?

…and the story about someone trying to kill themselves by jumping out of a hospital window and landing in front of the accident department is also true, I was there too!

NB: Heads up to the New (Danny) Boy in the blogisphere….

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6 Responses to “Urban Legends.”

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I retired from nursing many years ago and all these stories (apart from the A&E one were going round back in the seventies. Still bring a smile though🙂

The commode-on-bed thing. I’ve heard that one not so long ago. Again, the it-was-a-friend-of-a-friend thing. Probably cobblers.

As for everyone’s false teeth getting chucked together in a bowl, that was something commented on in a report into abuses at Ely Hospital in Cardiff back in the 1960s. Ely Hospital was a learning disabilities hospital, and the resulting scandal from the report helped kickstart the first experiments with moving people with learning disabilities out of hospitals and into community-based supported housing.

So yeah, the false teeth thing has happened, though not quite in the way described in the urban myth.

Haha – I’ve heard both those “urban legends” told as true stories!!

[…] May Day (don’t worry I didn’t get much further than Wikipedia!) puts me in mind of some of the Urban Legends that are part of any healthcare organisation. Max from It Shouldn’t Happen in Healthcare offers […]

I’ve heard of the “helpful” new nursing student who thought the full urinal on the bedside table was orange juice and poured the Pt a nice cup full.Must have been some interesting colored urine.And the smell didn’t clue her in? Sounds dubious.

[…] from my patients mouth, please feel free to add your own…although there are plenty of urban legends out there (some involving being naked while using vacuum […]


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