Top 47 slang terms nurses use


26. pack-years

Definition: A crude indicator of a person’s cumulative cigarette consumption, equal to the number of packs of cigarettes smoked/day multiplied by years of consumption.

Usage: We should really measure his consumption in pack-years. It’s probably close to 150.

27. jimmy leg

Definition: An uncontrollable shake or tremor of the leg.

Usage: I couldn’t fall asleep next to her, dude she’s got the jimmy legs.

Synonyms: jimmy legs, the shakes

28. baci

Definition: Bacitracin. An antibiotic used in wound irrigation operatively. Pronounced bass-e (bass like the fish).

Usage: Tech to relief tech: “This has baci in it.”

Synonyms: bacitracin

29. Band-Aid hospital

Definition: A popular term for a healthcare facility that provides for minimal care of significance.

Usage: I was hoping to get a job at a Level I trauma center, not at a Band-Aid hospital. I guess you don’t always get what you want. I learned that from the Rolling Stones.

30. noctor

Definition: The nurse who just came off of a six-week training course and acts as though she is a doctor.

Usage: What’s with the new noctor on the floor? Can you believe she had to gall to demand the patient with the Swan?

31. pharm party

Definition: Where kids get together to share drugs pilfered from their parents’ pill bottles. Painkillers such as Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin and other similar drugs are preferred for their “feel good” and numbing effect. Alcohol is routinely combined while taking the drugs.

There have been reports of kids openly sharing the pills in one communal bowl with no identifying information about the drug; sometimes the drugs are presented mixed together in a bag they call “trail mix.”

Some experts argue there is a lack of substantive data to label this as a phenomenon or a growing problem, and is more likely something sensationalized by media, law enforcement and educators.

Usage: Person 1: What do you guys want to do tonight? Person 2: Pharm party at Andy’s. I’m trying to get some of my brother’s OxyContin.

Synonyms: pharma party, pharming party, pill party

Created by hollywood, Mar 16, 2010

32. pothole sign

Definition: A clinical sign of acute appendicitis, referring to the severe pain evoked by every bump (or pothole) in the road felt on the drive to the hospital.

Usage: Yeah, he was positive for the pothole sign—said the ride in was brutal.

33. negative wallet biopsy

Definition: When a patient is transferred to a cheaper, less intensive hospital after discovering he has no health insurance.

Usage: Yeah, the negative wallet biopsy meant he was going to King-Harbor. Welcome to healthcare in America.

34. black vomit

Definition: Vomit from old black blood due to ulcers or yellow fever.

Usage: I saw the black vomit and I knew she was in trouble.

Synonyms: xekik

35. silent killer

Definition: A slang term for a condition that can progress to very advanced stages before manifesting itself clinically.

Usage: They say that obesity is the silent killer, but I’d say that it’s really all the heroin that he’s been doing for the past 10 years.

36. fluid overload

Definition: Hypervolemia. It’s the medical condition where there is too much fluid in the blood. This fluid, primarily salt and water, builds up in various locations in the body and leads to an increase in weight, swelling in the legs and arms (peripheral edema), and/or fluid in the abdomen (ascites). Eventually, the fluid enters the air spaces in the lungs, reduces the amount of oxygen that can enter the blood and causes shortness of breath (dyspnea). Fluid can also collect in the lungs when lying down at night, possibly making nighttime breathing and sleeping difficult (paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea).

Usage: I’m a little worried that we may run the risk of fluid overload if we perform the surgery.

Synonyms: hypervolemia

37. medical futility

Definition: Either a judgment that further medical treatment of a patient would have no useful result or a medical treatment whose success is possible although reasoning and experience suggest that it’s highly improbable.

Usage: What do I think? Medical futility.

38. the patient is high risk

Definition: The patient has HIV, Aids, or Hepatitis, so be aware.

Usage: Be sure to wear eye protection, the patient is high risk.

Created by hollywood on, Apr 06, 2010

39. questionable doctor

Definition: A physician who has been sanctioned for serious state and federal offenses and placed on a list by the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.

Usage: Umm, he’s a questionable doctor. He’s been sanctioned for handing out painkillers like Tic Tacs.

Synonyms: impaired physician

40. NPS

Definition: New parent syndrome. A propensity to bring your child to the hospital for every trivial thing. Used in charting.

Usage: Baby had hiccups, sent home. NPS.

Synonyms: parenthood

41. frequent flyer

Definition: One who visits healthcare providers, emergency departments, etc. for every little health problem, often drug seeking or wanting work excuses.

— contributed by reader, Kelly

42. boyfriend

Definition: The cute little old men who are a joy to take care of.

— contributed by reader, Grace


Definition: An acronym used in the ER which stands for ‘Big ‘Ol Needle in the A$$.’

Usage: I’m about to give this patient a bonita.

— contributed by Facebook fan, Tiffany Pizzimenti

44. DFO

Defintion: Acronym for ‘Done Fell Out.’

— contributed by Facebook fan, Nanci Leigh Nix

45. MD

Definition: Acronym for Makes Decisions.

Usage: Do you see MD after my name? That means Makes Decisions.

— contributed by Facebook fan, Maranda Thompson

46. RN

Definition: Acronym for Refuses/Resists Nonsense.

Usage: Do you see RN after my name? It stands for Resists/Refuses Nonsense!

— contributed by Facebook fan, Maranda Thompson

47. TMB

Definition: Acronym for ‘Too Many Birthdays.’

— contributed by Facebook fan, Amanda Belcher Klumpp

More humorous slang terms can be found at

Thank you to all the nurses who have contributed to this article! What are the slang terms you hear in your specialty? Share them below.


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