10 Nursing Activities That Cross YOUR Disgust Threshold

In a special episode of The Katie Duke Show, Katie and her fellow Nurseonality Kati Kleber discuss the “Yuck Factor.” The two nurses ask each other what part of their jobs crosses that elusive (for nurses) “disgust threshold.”

And you guys were more ready to chime in with the activities that make YOU go ewww….

Check out some of the confessions your fellow nurses wrote on the Funny Nursesand Scrubs Facebook pages, and leave your own comment below!

“Mucus…or saliva, anything with a slimy consistency! This is also the reason I almost start dry heaving when people eat raw oysters! Yuk. I also can’t drink ANY green smoothies…looks too much like NG contents.”

—Lynn M.

“Maggots. They make me want to run away and hide. And shower. For a solid year. Such incredible heebie-jeebies!”

Samantha L.

“Saw an I&D of the aftermath of a brown recluse bite. That was bad. Worst. Smell. Ever. Dentures, sputum, snot, GI bleeds, cleaning bedpans, and wounds with sinus tracts that shoot pus are also not a good time, but I deal with those. I’m not real fond of feet, either, but thankfully our policy states we can’t cut nails, so I’m perfectly happy to say, ‘Sorry can’t do it.'”

Nikki H.

“Eye surgery…cannot watch.”

Vera C.

“Sputum. Why can I get puked on and pooped on and not bat an eyelash, but suctioning thick sputum induces the gag? Oh, and a terrible GI bleed. Yeah, that smell does it, too….”

Nicole K.

“The smell of hematuria…”


“Brains. Can’t handle that! Heebie-jeebie!”

Michelle S.

“First is mouth care on a elderly patient when food and gunk is left over because they haven’t had mouth care in days!!! Second is GI bleed, smells worse than C. diff!! Trach care doesn’t bother me; I always get stuck with them and they’re usually fresh trachs!!”

Heather R.

“Dentures. Dentures with food in them. No.”

Sarah A.

“I work with trachs nearly every day. The worst part, I think, is emptying the suction collecting canister at end of shift, especially if the nurse on prior shift ‘forgot’ to do it!”

Stephanie D.

Fortunately, patients appreciate all you do:

“I was in the hospital for four months with a broken spine in a body cast! I have the utmost respect for any nurse! The disgusting things they had to do for me were just incredible! So I say thank you and God bless all nurses. I love you all for getting me better! Thank you!!!”

Roger B.
And finally, perhaps the question we should all be asking:

> “Why am I reading this while I eat?”

Tori M.
Have you run across something that just quite simply put, is too much? Share your experiences in the comments section below!


This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


  1. Guess I’ve just seen it all, done it all, so not much really bothers me, except the time I was doing CPR on a surfer, dragged from the ocean water, loaded into the ambulance, started CPR, and we knew we were successful with resuscitating him, when we had to roll him as he puked up an Italian sub all over the inside of the ambulance! At least we rolled him away from us! Smell worse than anything I have encountered in a hospital!

  2. I worked in Urology for many years and the one thing that I truly detested was bathing an uncircumcised dirty patient. Exponential yuk factor!

  3. As a new grad, I worked in an inner city emergency room and one day a diabetic patient came with a deep wound on his lower leg. It was infected with lots of maggots crawling out of it. I had to pick up the maggots with a forcep and I quite enjoyed the process as the other nurses were completely disgusted. I was disappointed when the charge nurse told me to stop.


  4. my biggest “gag” moment was trying to clear an NG tube on a wounded GI. I was a young Lieutenant stationed in Vietnam. When I couldn’t clear the NG, I removed it to replace it with a new one. When the tube was finally out there on the tip stuck into one of the drainage holes was a huge round worm. I screeched and dropped the darn thing. My corpsmen laughed and told me that most of these guys had worms because they ate local food. They disliked the K-rations provided by the Army. YUK!!!

  5. Compound fractures!! I’m a GI nurse and can handle any body fluid without bating an eye. I would even go so far as to say I get excited when doing a rectal irrigation and get a chunky return or when a patient has a repogle that is sucking out green and brown stomach contents. Broken bones will bring me to my knees. I had planned on being a trauma nurse and thought with time my fear would pass. After 7 years I’m thinking maybe it is a true phobia and butts and guts are where I’m meant to be.

  6. If you are having an elective procedure….please take a shower and wash your feet and clip your talons! I double glove when I have to touch feet :S

  7. The smell of cancer, especially a gut full of it, or colon cancer, those bowel movements have a quite unique smell. To me it smells like dead flesh.

  8. Well I worked with all type of wounds: infected or not infected, colostomy, gastrostomy, surgeries, etc. I don’t have problems with nursing care except for suctioning.
    I never left a patient having a respiratory failure due to not cleaning their pathway. However the gap reflex make me feels nauseas, for I don’t know reason. In addition, oral care is a little bit uncomfortable.

  9. Twice as a student I tossed cookies, once when a rather loud, solid, chunky substance came thru the suction tube as I suctioned a trach. The other was sinking an NG tube on a rather zealous gagger, I just got a little too sympathetic I guess.

  10. I rarely get lightheaded at things but when I was in nursing school I did a summer externship in the O.R. (between year one clinicals and year two clinicals). As you know the externs or students pretty much get to do the grunt work, I was in the ortho room which was my least favorite as the smell of bone being cut and the noise of a saw being used on a human part are not really pleasurable things, I was assigned the task of holding the specimen container while the surgeon amputated a gangrenous foot. I was fine watching it be removed, and fine with how black and gross it looked, but when the tech dropped the whole foot into the container I was holding, the weight of the foot, the thud it made as it hit the bottom of the container, and peering down in a “Tupperware” like container to see a human foot that was rotting…..I got very sweaty! The anesthesiologist started yelling “get a stool, get a stool, she is turning green, your student is about to hit the ground”. I don’t remember sitting down or putting down the container but when I got my bearings again, I was soaking wet, parked in the corner with a wet rag on the back of my neck, and the anesthesiologist was smiling and saying “you’ll be fine, happens to the best of ’em” while the nurses just eyerolled and glared at me.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

I’m So Tired: Treating Fatigue Naturally

We have all experienced fatigue, at one time or another. Some of us may experience it often. If you are perpetually tired, then I...

Soothing A Sore Throat

It's there when you wake up or sneaks up on you in the middle of the day --that annoying sore throat that is oh-so-common this time...

Countdown To An 80% BSN Workforce By 2020

by Elizabeth Ann Boman Miquelon BSN, RN In 2010, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), known at that time as the Institute of Medicine, recommended that...