Murphy’s nurse


Why handwriting matters…

  • The doctor with the worst handwriting and most original use of the English language will be responsible for your most critical patient.
  • You always remember “just one more thing” you need after you’ve gowned, gloved, masked and gone into that isolation room.
  • The correct depth of compression in adult CPR is a bit less than the depth you just reached when you broke those ribs.
  • When you cancel extra staff because it’s so quiet, you are guaranteed a rash of admissions.
  • If you wear a new white uniform, expect to be thrown up on.
  • Corollary: Residents always poop on your brand new shoes.
  • When management smiles at you, be very, very afraid….
  • Staffing will gladly send you three aides—but you have to float two of your RNs.
  • As soon as you discontinue the IV line, more fluids will be ordered.
  • Mandatory meetings are always scheduled after you’ve had the night from hell and just want to go home to bed.



  • You always forget what it was you wanted after you get to the supply room. You always remember when you get back to the other end of the wing.
  • Doctors only ask your name when the patient isn’t doing well.
  • Success occurs when no one is looking; failure occurs when the boss is watching.
  • As soon as you’ve ordered the pizzas, 25 patients show up at the ER registration desk along with three ambulances, all with cardiac arrests!
  • For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism.
  • Ten seconds after you have finished giving a complete bed bath and changing the bed, the patient has a giant code brown.
  • If a patient needs four pills, the packet will contain three.
  • Your buddies who were reading the paper at the nurses’ desk a minute ago always disappear when you need help.
  • Expect to get your pay raise the same day the hospital raises the parking rates (and other charges).
  • The better job you do, the more work you can expect to be handed.


Everything you need but…

  • The amount of clean linen available is inversely proportional to your immediate needs.
  • The more confused and impulsive a patient is, the less chance there is for a family member or friend to sit with the patient.
  • The perfect nurse for the job will apply the day after that post is filled by some semi-qualified idiot.
  • Corollary: You hear about the perfect job the day after you accept another one.
  • If only one solution can be found for a problem, then it is usually a stupid solution.
  • Despite an apartment littered with clothes, the dog will always sleep on the one clean uniform that you had laid out the night before.
  • When the nurse on the preceding shift has surrounded the patient with absorbent pads, the code brown will hit every sheet and miss every pad.
  • Rest assured that when you are in a hurry, the nurse’s notes have not been written.
  • When you are starting an IV on an uncooperative patient or dealing with a huge code brown, there is a phone call for you and it’s that crabby physician that you have been paging all morning.
  • Fire drills always occur on your day from hell—or at the end of a 12-hour shift when you have an important date.
  • The first person in line when the clinic opens will not require urgent care. The sickest person will arrive five minutes before closing: “I thought I’d feel better.”

Care to add to our list? Share your Murphy’s Law in the comments below!

Andrew Heenan is a Nurse, Journalist and Web Editor. Visit at

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