Avoid scaring your patients.

Life hacks are ingenious solutions to the common problems we face every day. They are really shortcuts that work well and will not only make certain tasks easier, they will save you time and energy.

And everyone knows that for nurses, time is of the essence.

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Here are some of the most famous life hacks every nurse should know nowadays:

  1. Use normal saline solution as contact lens solution

Whenever you leave home and forget to bring your contact lens solution with you for that long shift, you can use a normal saline solution which will save your contact lenses from drying out. You can also use it as an emergency eye drops for tired, dry or irritated eyes.

  1. Use triple gloves during code brown


Wear 3 pairs of gloves at once.

Code brown is honestly just messy so to save your hands from unexpected poop exposure, try triple gloving. Once you have cleaned up every trace of feces from your patient, peel away the first layer of gloves. In this way, you will not waste time having to put on a new pair of gloves when applying a clean diaper. Then, remove the second layer of gloves after waste disposal and when you have to put on a new set of bed linen. You do not only save time in wearing different sets of gloves, but you are also ensuring that your hands are well-protected from the mess and any germ invasion.

  1. Use isolation gowns for messy meals

For the messy nurse.

You will most likely eat quickly if and when you do get to have a bite so, if you are worried about messing on your scrubs during your meal, just wear an isolation gown. It works as an apron and it will protect your scrubs from unwanted meal stains or messes.

  1. Use coffee grounds as odor absorber

This unit smells like Starbucks…

Sometimes, those nasty smells seem to linger in your nose even after the source is no longer with you. If you can’t get rid of that odor from your patient’s bedpan or emesis basin, just put some grounded coffee and it will absorb the unpleasant smell. You can also put some coffee beans in a jar and sniff those to refresh your nose smell sensors.

It also works in hospital rooms. Put a small jar of grounded coffee beans at the center of the room to dispel any bad odors.

  1. Soak nasogastric tube in ice before insertion


Chilled nasogastrics

This procedure is not normally a very comfortable one for a patient and can be challenging for a nurse too. Chilled nasogastric tubes are good because they reduce the unpleasant feeling of NGT insertion and they make for easier insertion. Aside from soaking the tube in ice, you can also opt to place it in the freezer for 15 – 30 minutes before insertion.

  1. Put a warm washcloth over area of IV insertion


Just before starting an IV line, it helps to place a warm washcloth over the chosen site of insertion. This will help to dilate blood vessels, so you can pick a good vein for an IV line and facilitate the actual insertion.

  1. For female patients, try double insertion of foley catheter 

If you are unsuccessful at getting a urine flow after inserting a foley catheter in a female patient, don’t remove it and get a new one. While the first foley catheter is still in place, insert the second one but this time, aim higher. This trick will reduce the chance of missing the urethral opening again.

  1. Put a urine collector bag on a pediatric patient for urinalysis before blood collection

If your pediatric patient is going for a urinalysis, make sure to put on a urine collector before the medical technologist injects the child for blood. Most kids pee accidentally during blood workups and this is a good chance for you to collect a urinalysis specimen.

  1. Use hydrogen peroxide for blood stains

Hydrogen peroxide is the most effective chemical for removing blood stains on clothes. It can be used as an instant stain remover in times of emergencies.

  1. Add lotion on your wipes for sticky poop

There are some cases of code brown where it is challenging to remove all traces of feces off the skin especially if the patient has C. Diff infection. In these cases, apply some lotion on the wipes. And it will come off without much effort.

  1. When priming a new tubing, clamp, spike and fill…

Clamp the tubing first, spike the bag and then fill the drip chamber before priming. This way, you can avoid air bubbles from forming in the IV tubing as you prime your IV fluid.

  1. Put an examination glove over your stethoscope

As a barrier nursing measure, and to avoid contact, fit an examination glove over the stethoscope you are using. Then, after every usage, just remove the gloves and discard.

Gloves are thin enough not to interfere with sensitive sounds through the stethoscope’s diaphragm but also thick enough to prevent the risk of infection transmission between patients.

  1. For confused patients who keep on going out of bed, give them a pile of washcloths to fold.

Keep patients safe and busy

Patients who are confused for whatever reason, sometimes keep trying to get out of bed and short of tying them down, it’s a challenge to keep them in sedentary. Keep them focused by giving them a pile of towels or washcloths to fold. This trick gives them a sense of purpose, so they can remain occupied in their rooms. The mechanical nature of folding seems to have a calming effect on them as well.

  1. Cut a tourniquet in half for IV insertions on pediatric patients.

Most of the time, a tourniquet is too thick or too long for pediatric patients. To initiate a good grab, cut the tourniquet in half and this will fit the small limbs of pediatric patients.

 Use cloth or gauze for IV insertion on hairy skin

When inserting IV lines into patients with hairy arms or legs, use a piece of cloth or gauze as a skin barrier upon application of the tourniquet. This will reduce the pain associated with tourniquet friction rubbing against their hairy skin and will also alleviate any irritation.

  1. Use toothpaste or Vicks between two masks for worst smells

For lingering odors

Nurses are supposedly used to the smell of every type of body fluid you can imagine. However, there are some really tough smells that can catch you off guard. During these times, applying a mentholated scent like toothpaste or Vicks between two masks is effective in protecting your sense of smell.

  1. Use rubbing alcohol to untangle matted hair

This hack works wonders for bed-ridden patients. Rubbing alcohol is effective in dissolving sticky residues in the hair. You can use this trick before or after a patient’s daily bed bath.

  1. When inserting a foley catheter, don’t just lubricate the tip of the catheter

Fill the syringe with lubricant and squeeze it directly into the urethra. This will keep the lubricant in one place. It will also prevent unnecessary spillage if you put the lubricant at the tip of the Foley catheter. By applying this life hack, you are ensuring adequate lubrication for the procedure without compromising aseptic technique.

  1. Use shaving cream for removing sticky feces

As a nurse, it’s not unusual to find yourself with sticky feces stuck to your skin.  In removing it from your skin, apply some shaving cream to the area before using the wipes. Shaving cream works like lotion and it will help loosen and remove sticky patches of feces from your skin faster.

  1. Use the sock-on-sock technique

When removing a sock from a patient to do a procedure and don’t want to lose the sock, use the sock-on-sock technique. When removing one sock from your patient, put the removed sock over the other sock on the other foot. This trick will help keep you from losing a patient’s sock.

  1. To get patients’respiratory rate, just say you will get their pulse

During an examination of a patient’s vitals, they are often anxious. When he/she knows that a nurse is observing their respiratory rate, they have a tendency to be conscious of their breathing or even hold their breath. To avoid this, rather just pretend that you are measuring their pulse rate. Go through the motions of taking their pulse but take their respiratory rate.

  1. If you need to clamp a foley catheter for urinalysis specimen collection, you can use an empty syringe barrel to clamp the urine bag tubing.

Just remove the plunger, insert the folded tubing into the empty barrel of the syringe. This trick comes in handy should you run out of Kelly clamps.

  1. Use KY jelly or lubricant to remove dried blood. 

Wiping dried blood with wet wipes will take some time and it can often be resistant, but if you coat the area first with lubricant, the dried blood will be easily loosened.

  1. Instead of writing on your arm, attach micropore and write on that.

The things you write on your skin can be erased accidentally whenever you are sweaty or when you are doing hand washing. Writing on your skin is not ideal, but some emergencies call for more urgent measures. Write on a strip of micropore attached to your forearm. This is helpful in keeping track of your work, especially when under pressure like in code blue situations.

  1. Create a thumb hole in your isolation gown to prevent the sleeves from sliding down your arms

You need full use of your hands, and you can’t have this if your sleeves get in the way. You can prevent this by cutting a small hole in the sleeves of the gown for your thumb before putting on your gloves. Make sure that you will leave your thumb in this hole before donning your gloves. This is needed to ensure that the sleeves will not fall off while doing nursing care.

These brilliant life hacks for nurses are just some of the most popular ones around.

Do you know more nurse life hacks? Share them with your fellow nurses in the comments below.

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