10 Funny Nurse-To-Patient Miscommunications

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

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We’ve all had patients who have mixed up our instructions. Check out our Top 10 funniest miscommunications shared by healthcare professionals!


The ol’ yogurt for the yeast infection? Um, yeah…you were supposed to EAT it.


The father who calls from work about “the pink stuff” (amoxicillin). Isn’t it a little too thick to go through the nebulizer? Shouldn’t it be watered down?


The elderly lady who couldn’t understand why her husband needed medication for high blood pressure as well as low blood pressure. Turns out the “low pressure” for his low blood pressure was Lopressor!


The diabetic who was trained to administer insulin using an orange. When a nurse later discussed meds with the patient, the patient stated he was getting tired of oranges and wanted to know what other food he could inject and eat.


In the ER, a patient was asked, “Are you sexually active?” Response: “You mean I just lie there or what?”


A gentleman who was getting chemo had to have a 24-hour urine done with each cycle. He was given his “jug,” at which point he stated, “I just can’t do this again. I can’t stay up all night waiting to pee!”


The patient who repeated over the phone to various family members: “They’re putting a light up my privates to look at my heart.” She was talking about her heart ablation!


A patient who spoke poor English arrived in Labor and Delivery and said, “I’m here for my scheduled seduction”!!!


The patient who is in the bathroom a tad too long and finally comes out about 20 minutes later to hand you a cup of sperm. Be sure to specify what kind of specimen you want.


A patient returned to the ER because his fever wasn’t going down. When we asked about the suppository, he told us he didn’t know he was supposed to take it out of the foil wrapper.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


  1. What was I thinking when I told the elderly gentleman “we are now going to take off our pants and I’m going to get you in bed

  2. Had a Hispanic male patient who tried to teach me a few words of Spanish. I practiced and practiced. Hours later when it was snack time, I proudly entered his room holding a tray with snacks. In front of his whole family, I asked him “Leche con Pero?” I was convinced I was offering him milk and cookies, when, in fact, his entire family busted up with giggles. They told me I really asked him if he wanted ” mikk with a dog!” Thank goodness they had a sense of humor!

  3. I was having routine labwork done. The phlebotomist set the urine cup on the counter. She said to me ” I need you to pee in that cup”. I said “what? from here”?

  4. Ummm…when I was a young teen, before modern antifungals, we were advised to douche with yogurt mixed into the water to alleviate yeast infections. Number 1 is not as funny as you might think.

  5. Once I was explaining discharge instructions to a new Mom and Dad which had included, no sex for six to eight weeks. The Dad looked aghast and said, “no sex for dirty eight weeks?!” I re-explained and we all had a chuckle.

  6. I just had a rather strong memory one of the first times in my ER that I had to take telephone orders from an admitting doc with a heavy accent and a tongue that I always imagined was far too large to fit in his mouth. He always sounded like Marlon Brando’s Godfather, but worse.

    After going over a long list of meds, the doc said “And anal sex”
    Me, confused: “Excuse me, sir…”
    Him, louder: “anal sex”
    Me, incredulous: “I’m so sorry doctor, can you repeat that?”
    Him, almost screaming: “40 milligrams anal sex”
    Me, trying to keep my cool: “Please spell that, sir…” (I don’t know whether to be confused or really offended, it’s 4am and I have five patients that all want something, and I am sure he could hear frustration in my voice)
    Him, screaming at this point: “L-A-S-I-X”
    Me: “Ohhhh, and a lasix. 40mg of Lasix, Got it”

  7. Once while working at the VA Hospital one of my patients seemed confused. When I asked him who the President of the United States was” He replied Walter Cronkite”.

  8. I once had a nurse with a Filipino accent who was in care of a patient. As the floor supervisor the patient called me in to report that this nurse had called her “chickenshit”. When I questioned him about this matter, he reported no, no, I told her “she could sit” on the chair….. hilarious

  9. While taking care of a gentleman who had undergone a stroke, my CNA and I had boosted him up in his bed to a seated position. He held a tennis ball in his right hand for squeezing in order to strengthen his weakened grip. His speech was also effected and he kept mumbling something that sounded like “my ball…my ball”. I encouraged him, “Yes, your ball in your hand, keep squeezing it so your grip will get stronger”. He spoke louder, “MY BALL”. Then I realized he was referring not to his tennis ball but to his testicle he was sitting on after we had pulled him up in his bed! We quickly remedied the situation with apologies.

  10. One morning, a patient called me in to ask for a different aid to be assigned to her. The aid on duty was as sweet and accomodating as you could imagine. Always smiling and friendly and I asked why the patient wanted to change…. The patient said “She is such a dirty girl. Every morning she comes into my room, squats down and peas on the floor.” It only took me a moment to realize that the aid was squatting down each morning to empty the patient’s foley catheter…………… 🙂

  11. One of my favorite dialysis patients who spoke with a soft little southern accent, said to me one day….”why I would never take those genetic drugs, they are not the same as the invented ones”. I just smiled and explained that “generics” would not be given if they were not going to work the same as the brand name, if that were the case we could insist on name brands. She missed my correction of the pronunciation, and was overhead telling her daughter what I had said about the “genetic drugs” only being used if they would do that same thing in her body. We did have a chuckle at the nurses station when I announced I might consider some “Genetic drugs” if it meant I get a better metabolism, long legs, and great teeth.

  12. As a pedis nurse, we asked our patients what kind of surgery they were having. One boy told me he came into having his tonsils and paranoids taken out. I advised him not to tell anybody that because too many people would get in front of him wanting theirs out, too.

  13. Here is a little laugh that we had just the other day. Had an elderly patient come in with some gingivitis that she was having difficulty getting under control. To help, we Rx’d some chlorohexadine mouth rinse with instructions to rinse 2x daily. It is supplied in a tall brown bottle. She returned a few days later, asking us to help her open the bottle, we obliged. She then DROVE back to our office a few days later asking us how she was supposed to get down into the bottle to remove her toothbrush, that is, once she got done putting it in there to rinse it. “It was stuck in there and it is frustrating to remove it and there shoul be a better way to do this.” A demonstration of proper use of this product was promptly done on the spot.
    The unfortunate thing was that this episode was one of her initial signs of Alzheimer’s.


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