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Lucky Nurse (or Superstitions in the Hospital…)

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“Superstition: An irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome.” -from the American Heritage Dictionary

It’s funny–the longer I’m a nurse, the more superstitious I’ve become. And I’ve noticed I’m not alone; my coworkers are just as guilty. Plus we nurses LOVE to share our superstitions.

Labor and delivery tends to be one of the more superstitious floors in the hospital, I think. Here are some of my current L&D favorites:

1. The “Q” Word. Like any other unit, we NEVER say the word quiet (I cringe writing it here). In fact we avoid all kinds of words denoting a calm atmosphere in the fear that we will be jinxed into mayhem.

2. Knocking on Wood, or Formica, or any other wood-type substance occurs when ANYONE utters the above Q-type words. For some reason we think it reverses the effect.

3. Avoidance of The Board. We have a run-down board of all patients and their stats–and NO ONE may erase or touch the board w/out permission. And when someone does get dc’d from the board, we all Knock on Wood.

4. Never make an empty Triage Bed. That’s right–we all know that clean, made beds fill up fast. So we always leave one triage bed unmade. Silly, huh?

5. The Full Moon. Basically a full moon guarantees hospital-wide-insanity (read no beds and TV worthy disasters) for our floor. I think the ED always agrees with us on this one!

6. The Rule of Three. All experienced labor and delivery nurses know that everything on the floor happens in threes. This especially pertains to death (yikes) and really busy nights. Three  nights in a row of high census usually gives us a little reprieve–or leads us to three more nights of high census.

Then there are the personal superstitions:

7. Good-luck Charms. I know a nurse who always wears the same earrings as a talisman against a bad night. It seems to work for her!

8. And then there are nurses who won’t use Certain Rooms on our floor because they are “haunted” or “cursed.”

9. Some of our nurses won’t open instrumentation until the Last Minute before a delivery because they are afraid they will end up with a c-section.

10. And don’t even get me started on how hyper-superstitious L&D nurses can be about birth balls, birth plans, and doulas. It’s like those nurses can Predict a C-section. (I personally love them!)

Even I have a superstition: my husband isn’t allowed to ask me if I’m busy when he calls me at work! LOL!

And now that I’ve completely ruined the night shift ahead by writing all this down, I’ll leave with this question: What crazy/fun/true superstitions do you and your unit have? I’d love to hear more…

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Amy Bozeman

Amy is many things: a blogger, a nurse, a wife, a mom, a childbirth educator. She started her journey towards a career in nursing when she got pregnant with her first child. After nursing school and studying "like she has never studied before" she entered the nursing profession eager to get her feet wet. The first years provided her with much exposure to sadness, joy and other complex human emotions. She feels that blogging is a wonderful outlet and a way for nurse bloggers to further build their community. Traditionally, midwives have handed down their skill set from midwife to apprentice midwife. She believes nurses have this same opportunity: to pass from nurse to new nurse the rich traditions of this profession.
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12 Responses to Lucky Nurse (or Superstitions in the Hospital…)

  1. mandi

    tie one corner of the patient’s sheet to keep that person from dying on your shift

  2. Erin

    On our neuro unit, we have many of the same rules. In addition, some nurses refuse to put the “anticipated discharge” magnet on the board next to their patient’s name. You are never supposed to say, “I’ve never been in a code,” either. Also forbidden, “I’m all caught up!” And never EVER tell the night shift that their night will be better than your day!

  3. Norma R.N.

    When we were able to open patient’s windows which we can’t do anymore I used to crack a window when someone passed to “Let the spirit out” I can now only imagine how many spirits walk the halls since we can no longer crack patient’s windows.

  4. Beth

    Never ever EVER open the crash cart for ANY reason except to check for outdates. Every time guarentees a cardiac waiting to happen. We had a nursing student that wanted to reveiw meds and within 20 mins a guy was at out ER needing to be airlifted out. Another time we had an ACLS student do the same thing with similar results. Just dont do it!

  5. Beth

    Never ever EVER open the crash cart for ANY reason except to check for outdates. Every time guarentees a cardiac waiting to happen. We had a nursing student that wanted to reveiw meds and within 20 mins a guy was at out ER needing to be airlifted out. Another time we had an ACLS student do the same thing with similar results. Just dont do it!

  6. Nori

    As an ER nurse, I know that stating the name of a “frequent flyer” (as in, “We haven’t seen Joe Blow for awhile!”) will bring them through the door within 24 hours.

  7. Beth

    I have many of the same superstitions. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone, especially since most of my family doesn’t believe me that they are actually true.

  8. Beth

    I have many of the same superstitions. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone, especially since most of my family doesn’t believe me that they are actually true.

  9. Kathy

    Having been a nurse for 34 years, I believe most all of these! The full moon is a for sure one! On our unit last month-I thought we had changed to a psych ward. I worked OB for 20+ years and have seen all of the OB “myths” come true. No one should ever walk onto the OB floor with a birth plan!!!
    I also agree with the comment about saying frequent flyer names, seen it happen too many times

  10. Jamie

    All of this is true.I work OB and I have experienced everything mentioned mentioned above.

  11. Debbie LPN

    i never beleaved in superstitions until I got into the nusring field.

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