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The top 10 ooky things you’ll see in a hospital


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I’m not talking here about wounds large enough to stick your head in or residents who haven’t slept in three days. I’m talking about the everyday eyesores that become invisible with familiarity.

The top 10 ooky things you’ll see in a hospital

10. Wrinkly scrubs, dirty shoes, mussed hair or otherwise unkempt employees.
Nobody wants their bedside nurse to be a slob. Let’s not even go where dirty fingernails lead the imagination.

9. Piles of equipment in the halls.
The one good thing about Joint Commission inspections is that everybody moves all the junk out of the hallways.

8. Masking tape, weird handwritten signs and caution signs everywhere.
Some of this is unavoidable, such as when something’s being painted or cleaned. When they stick around for days on end, though, they get annoying.

7. Three-for-one “soothing” paintings on the walls.
I must be the only person who is driven nuts by those pastel abstracts, given how often I see them in hospitals.

6. Misplaced apostrophes.
Seriously, people: If you can’t put up a sign without an apostrophe in the wrong place, why are you putting it up at all? That makes me question the collective IQ of the facility.

5. Piles of junk in nurses’ stations and on countertops.
Sight lines are really important to making people feel like you’ve got things under control.

4. Messy patient rooms.
See #5. A messy room is worse than itch powder in my underwear.

3. Dead flowers sitting at the nurses’ station or on counters.
These get a separate mention because they start to smell after a while. Plus, they’re depressing. What does it say that you can’t even keep flowers alive?

2. Overflowing waste cans.
Inside or outside of rooms, overflowing trash cans, or cans with stuff piled around them, are my second-biggest peeve. Which brings me to…

1. Trashy waiting areas.
When I walk into my unit’s family room and see half-empty boxes of takeout food, plastic cups with old drinks in them and stuff flung around as though a troop of baboons has been through, it chaps my hinders. The only place a lot of people can go to escape the Machines That Go Beep is the family room; it’s not fair that they have to put up with a bunch of trash left behind by the last occupants. I wish I could collar the offenders and put them to work cleaning up highways.

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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