Oh, she was just TOBP. Wait—what?

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

There are some things nurses just can’t say out loud. Which is why developing a secret nurse code is not only practical, it’s downright necessary. That’s where nurse slang comes in.

And because we wouldn’t want you to miss out on the endless variations floating around outside of the hospital you call home, we’ve asked your fellow nurses to share their favorite terms on our Facebook page.

Needless to say, we think an unofficial dictionary will soon be in order.


“ANW: ain’t nothing wrong. For the ridiculous ED check-ins, like a hangnail.”

—Kayla B. 


“Nurse porn: patients whose veins are so big and distended that you could put a 14-gauge in from across the room. Makes nurses excited.”

—Teresa G. 


“The Golden Girls: a patient assignment consisting of four old ladies.”

—Caryn C.


“TMB: too many birthdays. Often used when asked what the cause of death was.”

—Katie A.


“Terms for falls: Gravity attack, RUSH (rapid unplanned standing to horizontal) transition, adverse reaction to gravity, extreme sensitivity to gravity (frequent falls). Hot Jambalaya: pepper-sprayed patient. Incarceritis: a physical reaction (chest pain, SOB, etc.) brought on by being taken into police custody.”

—Mark O.


“Teeth to tattoo ratio: inversely proportional.”

—Brenda C.


“Working in L&D, we would say that a pt needs the ‘party pack’ when she tests positive for the three most common STDs (GC, CZ and Trich). Party pack includes Rocephin, azithromycin and Flagyl….”

—Raymond P. 


“Oscar: dramatic male patient. Emmy: dramatic female patient. Tony/Toni: over-the-top dramatic patient.”

—Mark O.


“TOBP: tired of being pregnant.”

—Kathi M.


“GOMER: Get out of my emergency room.”

—Robin S. 

What’s your all-time favorite or most used term? Share it with us in the comments section below!


This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

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Positive Samsonite sign. When they bring everything they own.

Raymond Hogan

It’s occurred to all that you coul one day be explaining your abbreviations to the court from the witness stand, right?


From the days in ER/ICU: 2-4/7-9 means, they deceased and those are the calling hours.
Achieved room temperature, also means deceased.

Devan Martin

On Sundays in the ED: DFOIC. Done Fell Out in Church. Little old ladies who get into a religious frenzy and pass out.
TNTM: Too Numerous To Mention. A patient that c/o multiple problems in triage.
Tx’ed to ECC: Transferred to the Eternal Care Center. (Patient died.)

Margie Algood

P.S. – Sorry fo poor spelling, etc. Haven’t had my first cup of COFFEE yet. ☺

Margie Algood

I work as A Charge Nurse in LTC. A whispered “CODE BROWN” & “CODE BROWN WATER” isn’t something I like hearLTD. Also, during report getting told ” Ms. Soandso had a laxadaisical morning”. I always mke sure we have enough wipes, towels, & wash cloths when i here these.

Pam Payne

Working in LTC with the extremely geriatric, you sometimes come to work to find a resident no longer on the census. When asked why? The response “they had a celestial discharge”. A less blunt way of saying “they died”.

Sue Gosser

Years ago a MD charted about a patient that she was CAAL. His hand writing was horrible but I was used to it but I couldn’t figure it out so I asked him and he whispered in my ear that it meant Crazy as a Loon! I worked on an Orthopedic floor and we had lots of drug seekers. Patients with this diagnosis were given placebos which worked well.


FTD – “Fixing to die” aka CTD – “Circling the drain” . Sad but you’ve done all you can.


Sheenitis- “Ever increasing bat-shit crazy statements that inflame and infuriate all those around them”. Mostly staff who have to duck, dodge, and referee between patient and family members.

Danielle M.

When I was working in L&D, when we saw a mother come in who had all the “natural” items to use during labor and after, refused to be hooked up to the monitor all the time, wanted the least amount of intervention, We would call her a “granola” and take bets on how long before she was sectioned due to fetal distress or failure to progress.

CB Flynn

An unkind one–FLKs are Funny Looking Kids that have a syndrome that has not yet been diagnosed.


TFTB – Picture a morbidly obese individual with obstructive sleep apnea, chronic hypoxia, orthopnea, and exertional dyspnea. That person is Too Fat To Breathe.


I had to have my staff stop charting in the alerts that popped up as you found a patient’s electronic chart an abbreviation that they made up. It was accurate but not so nice, and we get audited often. I really did not want to explain to state what it meant. They would put: T.I.C. ….I scratched my head, tick? I could not figure it out….till explained…you know that patient who says the most random stuff to you or has the most bizarre health beliefs and thinks all you trained people are idiots…yes those are the TIC’s …totally insane clients!