Are You A Superstitious Nurse?

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

Does the idea of working on Friday the 13th make you squirm? Have you banned the “Q” word from ever being uttered on your floor? If you said yes to either of these, you’re definitely a superstitious nurse. If you said no, let’s see if you’re really not superstitious, or if you’re just not aware of it yet!


1. The “Q” word
It’s practically a given. If you say anything remotely like “It’s a quiet day today,” all heck will break loose not long after. Patients who were quiet before are now ringing the call bells, a stable patient begins to decompensate and your little old lady in room 5 is trying to climb out of bed—again.

2. “We’re full—we can’t get too busy.”
Okay, the unit is full and you all have your assignments. The temptation to relax and say that you can’t get too busy because you can’t get admissions is a surefire way to make things go haywire.

3. Remembering a frequent flyer who hasn’t been in lately
All hospitals have them: patients who are admitted frequently because of their chronic illnesses. Some patients we enjoy, and others…not so much. But as soon as you say to a coworker, “I wonder how Mrs. B is doing? She must be doing well since she hasn’t been here in a while,” she’ll be in the ER.

4. A fly in the hospital means someone will die
Some nurses swear that if they see a fly, that means someone will be dying on their shift.

5. Tying a knot in the sheet for a DNR patient
If you have a patient who is a “no-code” or DNR, apparently tying a knot in the corner of his or her sheet will get the patient through your shift. The thing is, if every shift does it, the poor soul will never go anywhere!

6. Ordering a pizza or organizing a pot luck
It may be a quiet enough shift to grab a bite to eat, but never order a pizza or arrange the shift before for a potluck dinner, because you just know that this is when the patients will need you the most.

7. Starting IVs
No matter how beautiful a patient’s veins look, never say, “You have great veins; this will be a cinch.” Because you know that it won’t be now that you’ve said it. Along the same vein (sorry, pun intended), if you forget to bring the extra 2×2 gauzes, go get them, because if you don’t, your IV will be a squirter.

8. Never leave a room unprepared
If you have an empty room, don’t delay preparing it for the next patient. If you leave it unprepared (bed not made, supplies not stocked), it’s guaranteed that the ER is coming up with a patient RIGHT NOW.

9. Never say aloud that you hope the nurse taking over will be a few minutes early
Let’s say you are having a “Q” shift. Never say, “I hope so-and-so comes in a bit early today. I’d love to leave on time.” This is absolutely a surefire way for a patient to crash near the end of your shift or your relief will be stuck in traffic, miles away.

10. Preparing to leave a few minutes before shift end
Never, ever, ever cap your pens, put away your supplies in your bag and declare that you’re ready to go home. You just know what will happen then….

Do you have any superstitions? Share in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.



  1. Not a patient thing but there is always the ‘pregnant chair’…..if 1 nurse gets pregnant, you can almost guarantee that several will, all at once!

  2. More patients die at 0300. Never tell an oncoming nurse she will have a good shift with their assignment. Never mention a frequent flyer they will come in for sure. They always come in threes, that is a scientific fact.

  3. Never say that you’re sick. You can say the “s word,” but never say you’re feeling sick because you will be!

  4. Full moon – OB, ER, Psych, any unit but especially those 3. Death comes in 3’s. She is right , open end of a pillowcase goes away from the door.

  5. Leaving a window open after someone dies to let their souls out. If not their souls will roam the halls forever.

  6. Deaths always come in threes.
    When the ER starts report on a new admission by saying “this is a really cute little old lady,” you know she’s not going to be cute about 5 minutes after admission.

  7. In nursing school a teacher told us that nurses NEVER place the open end of pillow cases facing the door.


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