Top 10 things patients have said to me

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With apologies to David Letterman…the top 10 things patients have said to me:

10. “How much would it cost for you to date my son? I’m worried he’ll never find a woman because of his health problems, but I figure you’re used to that sort of thing.”

9. “Don’t you think Dr. Smith is cute?” (Asked while Dr. Smith was performing a lumbar puncture. My response: “Where?”)

8. “Come here and give me a kiss, sweetie!”

7. “I’m allergic to Tylenol and acetaminophen, but I can take Lortab without a problem.”

6. “You should meet my nephew’s wife’s cousin. He’s a used car salesman, and he’s looking for a girlfriend.”

5. “I’m allergic to oxygen.”

4. “If I hold this crystal up to my head, it’ll keep me from having a reaction to that drug that I’m allergic to.”

3. “Dilaudid only works if I can smoke right before I get it.”

2. “You’re too smart to be a nurse.” (My response: “Okay, well, I’ll try to find a stupid person to take care of you.”)

And the number one thing a patient has ever said to me in the course of my day:

1. “I had a hysterectomy for a big tuna in my uterus. A big fibroid tuna.”

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Agatha Lellis

Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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30 Responses to Top 10 things patients have said to me

  1. Karen

    10/10 pain while talking,eating and watching tv comfortably.

  2. Brigitte Truman

    The one that made it to # 1 (the one on the bottom) is totally to blame on the doctor who did that poor woman’s hysterectomy – he didn’t explain it to her well, because she couldn’t understand what the heck he was saying, and when he said tumor, she thought he said tuna. Bless her heart.
    #1 is totally deserved for this one, though, it is the funniest of them all. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Tara

    These were both calls I received in the ED.
    1) My bird just died. If I bring it in, can you do an autopsy?
    2) If I *accidentally* gave another guy a blow job, can I get AIDS?

  4. Rakhel

    “DO NOT come into my room if you’re not bringing me chocolate!!!”
    (i got her a chocolate donut later that night)

  5. Stacy

    One of my patients said this after being on tylenol#3 for 6 months and instead of suggesting the narcotic first, I offered regular tylenol: “everytime I take tylenol, I get a an awful ringing in my head. I don’t want tylenol”. Do you want a pain pill? “Percocet works for me”, was the reply. Did you have ringing at all yesterday? “No”. Day before? “No”. Ok. Well, you had a pain pill the past 2 days and almost daily for the past month. How many times did you have this ringing that you are just now reporting. “I haven’t had it at all because I took a pain pill, not tylenol”. Poor woman had tylenol #3…SMH..

  6. I worked in labor and delivery for ten years. My best one was the patient who came in thinking she was i labor. As she described her symptoms to us she stated, “I am having contraptions in my eucharist.”

  7. Granny Rene, RN x 35 yrs.

    Sorry, but # 1 is usually a matter of speech/dialect or some other language error on the part of the patient.
    I once had an elderly Southern Country woman who could not answer the MDs’ questions as: ‘Have you had a hysterectomy?’ or ‘Have you had your uterus removed?’.
    Finally, I leaned in and asked: ‘Honey, do you still have your WOMB?’
    Guess what? She KNEW what a womb was (because it is the word used in the Bible) and immediately answered “oh no, that was takened out years ago!’ Turned out she had advanced cervical cancer.
    So remember where you are and with whom you are trying to communicate before you start laughing…

  8. Granny Rene, RN x 35 yrs.

    Re: 10/10 pain while watching TV…
    The biggest problem with effective pain management is that there is NOT ENOUGH OF IT.
    For all of our advances in technology, there is NO test, scan or other means of measuring another persons’ pain. In my practice I draw a ‘bell curve’ with 0 at the left, 5 at the ‘peak’, and 10 at the right end. I teach my patients to take their pain meds when their pain begins to APPROACH 3 because once it hits 5 or more it is ‘downhill’ from there.
    More pain medication will be required to ‘break the cycle’ and healing will be slowed due to the endorphin/histamine release from damaged, infected or surgical tissues.

  9. Granny Rene, RN x 35 yrs

    Re: Tylenol/acetaminophen and head pain
    Research on migraine (aka ‘vascular’) headaches indicates that acetaminophen often causes rebound headaches. For that reason, other OTC pain meds such as ibuprofen are recommended instead for those who can tolerate them.
    See my comment on pain management, and NEVER tell a patient that he/she cannot possibly be hurting!

  10. Kristine

    My nursing diagnosis for Granny Rene is At Risk for PUD related to a decreased sense of humor!

    I thought they were all pretty comical. Yes, we need to take pain seriously and no, we would never make a patient feel bad due to poor enunciation and/or education level. However, it does not mean we can’t chuckle inside to lighten up our day a little. If we’re not smiling, how can we expect our patients to?

    I’ve been a RN for 11 years and have heard some doozies!

  11. Carolyn Mullins

    One of the funniest things a patient said to me:

    I walked into a 80 yr old females room and she Gasp loudly and said “Oh my! I bet you where pretty when you were young. ( I was 40 years old at the time.)

    • nursesuze2011 RN

      I use to be really overweight and I had patients say to me, Honey, you would be so pretty if you lost that weight, and one thing I hated, She’s a big girl, she can help me get OOB!

  12. vlslpn

    No matter how much you wash it, it still smells like fish”!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. acates11 Caption Contest

    Patient– Who was that nice young Doctor? My reply– Oh!! he’s just a new intern, they don’t have names yet!!.

  14. acates11 Caption Contest

    Working in a very small ER one night I had a call from a girl probably 20 something. She wanted to talk to a female nurse, but I was the only nurse on duty. She wanted to know if she could get an infection from whipped cream in a particular private area? It took all my will power not to laugh and stay professional. I advised her to she her PCP asap since it was evident she already had an infection. I wanted to ask but couldn’t ask if she reciprocated. The things we get asked!!!

  15. SASweek RN

    Had a patient the other day refuse the oxycodone that she had been prescribed on admit, telling me that she was deathly allergic to opioid analgesics. She then asked me to ask the Dr. if she could just take the tramadol that her regular Dr had prescribed for her, and handed me the bottle out of her purse….

    • hartig2003

      deathly allergic might be overdoing it, but the side effect of tramadol opposed the others are very different.

  16. Ezmerelda RN

    Just because a patient “looks” comfortable doesn’t mean he/she is comfortable… Patients with severe chronic pain look very “comfortable.” It’s the patient with acute onset pain that you need to look at…but remember…it’s the patient’s pain…not yours…

    • hartig2003

      Exactly, Those with chronic pain have no choice but to try and keep their mind busy to ease the pain

  17. ksokia

    They found out I had a tumor when they did my “autopsy” :)

  18. iluvbturducken

    I’m a current nursing student who has worked as an aide for 8 years, and one day I was getting one of my favorite residents dressed and ready for dinner. This resident happened to be 96 and the victim of a stroke, but her mind was still sharp as a tack, and she was always saying funny and sassy things. The best though was when she looked at me serious as a heart attack and told me, “You know what if I were into girls you’d be my first choice.” I looked back at her and said “And if I was into to 96 year old ladies you’d be on the top of my list.”

  19. Sharppointy1

    Best thing a patient ever said to me (in 37 years of nursing): While I was a nursing student, I was giving a complete bed bath to an elderly gentleman. While I was washing his genitals, he said “You know, for something so small I’ve sure had fun with that”.
    I was rendered momentarily speechless, and then I giggled and the 3 other men in the room plus the pt all laughed with me.

  20. ERrnkag

    While inserting a foley in a male patient he tells he going to … “Have an orgasm”. My ears are still scared.

  21. mich9510

    Before I became an RN I worked in a personal care home. This cute little 96 year old woman was refusing her shower. When I asked her why she didn’t want a shower she looked around and whispered”I’m menstruating.”

  22. BEAR

    I’m a AIN There was a lovely old lady(90ish) that had a pacemaker put in her left side of her chest ,well she rang her buzzer,I answered it she asked for me to please put a chair next to her leg I complied with her request ,through out my shift she kept on buzzing to reposition her left leg(she had no ailment with her leg) after the third time of doing this I asked her why she needed to keep her leg up,and she said to me in the cutest Nana way “I need to keep my leg up because my pacemaker is in there and I got to rest my leg”in my head I said WHAT THE !!!but I said I’ll get your nurse to explain some things to you about your pacemaker.

  23. hellonurse

    I am an RN now but during CNA clinicals, while showering someone for the practical part of the exam, I was drying a male’s legs. He looked down at me and loudly said “While you’re down there dry my b!@ls” I just responded with “okay” while holding in my smile. The instructor and my class mate had to hold in their humor too! Probably the funniest thing I have heard to date.

  24. NurseJess

    My favourite was when a confused patient tried to be nice by offering me a drink from his urinal

    • LyndaGTx

      Funny…had a similiar incident: My patient pushes the call light…screaming that he NEEDS another pitcher of apple juice..AND this time could we bring some ice, because the last one was warm! Yep! HE drank the entire contents of his own urinal…didn’t offer to share…lol

  25. Pearl

    I’ve had several surgeries. And as an RN I have also observed many patients “resting comfortably” or even “sleeping comfortably”. What I know now is that sleeping is an escape from pain. Pain of any degree cannot be observed by an onlooker. Writhing in pain adds to the pain and is often drama.

  26. RN7853

    Walked in the room to introduce myself as his nurse for the next 12 hours. Without even a 2.5 second pause, he responded with “You what the good thing is about you being pregnant? I can’t get caught.” Followed by me slowly backing out of the room to reestablish my professional manor and presence.