Funny new nurse mistakes as submitted to Reddit

I’m currently a new nurse on a postpartum floor. A few weeks ago I gave a baby a bath and put baby and mom skin to skin like we usually do. When I came back in the room 5 minutes later to check the baby’s temperature I realized I never put the diaper back on the baby. Thank god the baby didn’t pee or poop on mom!

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Any funny stories as a new nurse from you guys?

My first day as a licensed RN I had a patient with a gangrenous foot that the docs were waiting to cut off. I pulled back the sheet to assess the foot/pedal pulses and her toe FELL OFF. I squealed and ran out of the room for my preceptor. She laughed at me and told me to put it in a specimen cup.

[–]wicksaRN – LDRP

OMG, I had almost, the same thing happen to me. I was doing a dressing change on the gangrenous foot of an elderly woman and the dressing stuck to the toe and it came right off. I was pretty new and my face must’ve turned white as a ghost. The lady was just like, “Did my toe just fall off, honey?” I called podiatry in a panic and they just laughed and told me to stick it in a specimen cup and they’d be there in a bit.

[–]faco_fuesdayRN, DNP, PICU

Then the preceptor is like, “Oohhhh, you’re in trouuubbleeeee..” And then cracks up laughing.Bottom of Form

Even in my fresh out of nursing school haze, THIS was not an expected outcome!

[–]pushdoseRapid Response

The only time I ever puked on duty was when I pulled off a gangrenous toe while changing a homemade dressing. The toe was stuck in the kerlix and there were maggots and flies in the dressing too. I ran out and barfed in a trash can.

[–]rstallard91RN – ICU

Same incident, but not my patient.

I walk into the room as a student was pulling the patient’s sock off. A poof of dead skin cells and something flies onto and across the floor.

Everyone just kinda froze for a second. All I could say, just walking in as it happened, was “uhh, I think that was his toe…”


When I was new at the hospital, we had someone like that, her middle toe fell off during a bed change, it was just open to air. I had to ‘oversee’ the toe until our charge nurse could come take it to where ever it needed to go.

[–]tossmeawayagainRN – Home & Community

Not so much a mistake as general new-nurse awkwardness.

Doing an in-and-out Cath on a female bariatric patient who’d never been cathed before. I could not for the LIFE of me find her urethra. Poor woman ended up with five caths sticking out of her vagina like one of those multi-use USB dongles before I finally got it.

By which point I’d knocked the tray aside and forgotten about it. Got to scramble through a flood of urine to catch the flow.

[–]rstallard91RN – ICU

Oh boy. Yep, those team efforts when you need 3 people and a 2×4 to hold up the belly while you try to find that elusive urethra.

[–]faco_fuesdayRN, DNP, PICU

Two words for you my friend- headlamp.

[–]tossmeawayagainRN – Home & Community

Jokes on me, I work in home care with the odd stint in the solo RN clinic. Loooonely….I’m so loooonely…

Two weeks ago, I rigged a scarf to two bedposts to hold a patients pannus up while I worked. We get good at improvisation!

[–]mootmahsnRN – ICU

One word: Trendelenberg.

[–]NurseRattchetRN – ICU

…and a flipped bedpan underneath to prop it all up

[–]JesspandapantsRN – ICU

Lie them on their side and get the knees up toward the chest. Go in from the rear! So much easier than diving through mounds of adipose!


This happened to me during clinicals. I was packing and changing a dressing on a wound that was pretty close to the anus. I was so proud of it since it was my first time until I realized I had blocked the anus with the dressing. My instructor, fellow classmates, and the patient got a good laugh out of it. I wanted to die.

[–]XaedriaDumpster Diving For Ham Scraps

At least you didn’t actually pack the anus. We had a new grad do that on a Med Surg floor. She’d always been a ditz though. I went to school with her.

Another guy pulled a flexi-seal on a patient who’d died and complained at the desk how hard it was to get it out. Somebody jokingly said, “did you deflate it?” thinking there’s no way possible he didn’t immediately think of that… He hadn’t.


Thankfully he was dead! No really.


I had a surgeon once stitch the anus closed before surgery. (hyperkalaemic pt., given kayexalate on the floor the night before surgery to fix a hip fx.) Pt. was just leaking stool, there was no way to maintain a sterile field so…. throw a few stitches in there, cram some gauze between the cheeks, cover with a Tegaderm and fix that fracture fast!!!

[–]sorryaboutthatbroRN – Psych/Mental Health

This is amazing!


That’s okay. I accidentally missed and started putting a suppository in the vagina. And I’ve been a nurse for 2 years.


I put someone’s false eye in upside down after cleaning it. So, one eye was looking at me and the other was looking at the ceiling.

[–]anontogRN – Workers Comp Case Mgr

Oh no! How did you react? I feel like that would have sent me into a giggle fit.


It was very hard to keep a straight face. Luckily the patient had a sense of humor.


I love this one, I cracked up way past just a simple lol

[–]pockunitBA, RN-ER, EIEIO

Forgetting to either mix or unclamp a bag of Zosyn. Yeah, pretty sure that NS ain’t gonna cure your infection.

[–]rstallard91RN – ICU

Seen that done with a Cardizem gtt. Night shift nurse: “Man, they haven’t responded to the Cardizem and I’ve maxed it out!”

Not long after, after the previous nurse left, I checked the bag and the little plunger hadn’t been pulled to mix the meds.

The patient in Afib had been getting a Saline infusion all night instead…


I received a patient from the ER once who was in uncontrolled Afib, and no matter how high the ER nurse titrated the “Cardizem”, nothing would help. Turns out, the ER nurse was titrating Zosyn.

[–]rstallard91RN – ICU

WUT. Wow, the Zosyn and Cardizem bags are easily distinguishable at my place.

[–]rubellaannRN – ICU

Had a CNA empty a Foley and not clamp it. So, the pee just went onto the floor.

Today I put meds in an NG and forgot to clamp it so when I came back meds and bile everywhere.

[–]poopoochewerRN – Neurology

I’ve forgotten to clamp PEGs a few times before opening the cap, usually after pt. has been washed and sheets changed :/

[–]lamoreequiBSN, RN-BC, PCCN

I alwaysssss forget to clamp! D:

[–]lifelemonlessonsRN – ICU, Neurosurg/Trauma Lvl 1

Or clamp it with tube feed running and yay linen change!

[–]RabidWenchRN – CVCU

Oh my God, one day I came in to find that night shift had flipped the 3-way valve shut to the feeding, and it had formed a lake of TF under my pt. It was awwwwwwwesome.

[–]KaatiekayRN CEN- ED traveler

During clinical, the doc changed the maintenance fluids but kept the same rate. So, my brilliant ass decided that I could unspike the (700cc full) bag while it was still hanging on the IV pole and just attach the new one. Fluid went EVERYWHERE.

[–]rubellaannRN – ICU

I unspiked a pressure bag and drenched the room.


I inadvertently unspiked a unit of PBBCs (pressure bagged) above my head. The room looked like the beginning of a Law and Order episode. (Patient unconscious).

FYI: doesn’t count as an exposure when blood bank blood goes into your mouth, nose, and eyes.

[–]yeymanRN – Telemetry

in the hospital, there are two separate and equal groups, the doctors who write orders and the nurses who carry out those orders. These are their stories. dun dun


Hahaha, I did this too but thankfully it was fake blood (just water with red dye) because it was during a mock code we had.

[–]AmbitionOfPhilipJFryBSN, RN, EMT – PCU/Tele

Yes, it does, fuck that hospital’s exposure team.

Oh, wait…Are they saying because it’s been pre-screened it’s ok?



[–]XianaFyreRN – Med/Surg

In nursing school, I was present during a code and the patient died. He had an art line in with pressurized saline. Well, one of the nurses forgot to depressurize the saline bag before she started unplugging and unspiking, and I happened to be standing on the other side of the patient. I got caught in the line of fire and half of me got drenched along with the patient. I got dirty looks from my instructor as I’m trying to stifle my laughter in front of the deceased. The guy wound up having a fan on him in a desperate attempt to dry him off before the family arrived.

[–]RabidWenchRN – CVCU

LOL, linen change time! Fans are for sissies.: P

We’ve changed linens under dead guys so many times, so they look nice for the family. It’s just a kindness to make them look a bit less victim-y.

[–]XaedriaDumpster Diving For Ham Scraps

Hah, I’ve done the same, but during orientation. We didn’t get to handle any IVs or anything related to them during school clinical, so it made for some pretty funny newbie fuckups once we hit the real world and started being allowed to handle stuff.

In my defense, I was tired as hell. As much as I hate drinking coffee, that was my wake-up call that I needed a shot of it that day. Thank God, I was just at the shadowing period at that point.

[–]rstallard91RN – ICU

Done something similar with secondary tubing. Unhook the secondary and get a chest full of the residual antibiotic cuz I forgot to close the roller clamp.

[–]pockunitBA, RN-ER, EIEIO

My skills teacher always assigned some poor schlump this job, then took a BIIIIIIIG step back before the deluge. Every. damn. semester.


I think this a rite of passage for all new nurses.


I needed to inject medication into a hanging IV bag. I put it through the side of the port and put the needle into my finger at 2 o’clock in the morning.

To not expose the patient to my blood, I had to hit the call light, wait for someone to do a new IV set-up and stand there skewered to the bag for almost five minutes. Thank God, the patient was unconscious.


“Dear Dr. _____,

FYI: pt. was day 4 without a bowel movement and per your orders, a suppository was to be administered. Unfortunately, the suppository was administered vaginally. Pt denies any discomfort and shows no ill signs related to this error.”

How about funny new med students?

Had a new med student come into the OR. He apparently got the shoe covers mixed up with the scrub hats.

The toe end was puffy on the back of his head. How he fit that shoe cover on his head, I will never know. Of course, we didn’t tell him. It was far too entertaining…


I walked into a room once and saw a med student staring at a larger, immobile female patient, holding an empty urine cup and looking confused. He said, “I have to…. get urine?” I told him we would have to use a bedpan…and he walked out and left me to do it by myself:(

[–]CaptainHeyNursing Student

Not my story but one of my lecturers told us a story from when she was still on the wards.

A newly qualified nurse was on the ward and she asked him to remove a catheter from a male patient. He was behind the curtain for quite some time and she could see his feet scurrying back and forth. When she went in behind the curtain, she found a very distressed looking patient and the nurse was holding a pair of scissors and half a catheter.

Apparently, after many attempts of trying to tug out the catheter, he decided it was a good idea to cut the catheter near the tip of his penis. With no way of deflating the balloon, the patient had to go back for surgery to get it removed.

[–]KoboldArchmageRN – ER

Nope. That balloon deflated as soon as the tubing was cut as there would no longer be anything to hold the saline in. Your instructor lied to you in one way or another.

[–]CaptainHeyNursing Student

You’re absolutely right and I can’t believe I didn’t cop onto that myself

[–]RainbowBriteIsAwesomRN, BSN

Well, the balloon does deflate. But it can go back into the bladder.

My poor confused patient who snapped his Foley in half (how? I don’t know) retained the half and had to have 2 cystoscopies to get the damn thing out. Poor guy.


I often D/C Foleys by cutting them, but I always think for a split second, “What if it doesn’t deflate?”

[–]joshy83RN, BSN

A friend of mine jacked up the IV tubing n someone’s room (got it all full of air bubbles) so I went in to try and help. (She asked, and it was clinicals and I know I am not a talented and gifted god. She was just nervous.) So, the instructor sees us derping around and walks in and then I get nervous. She takes the tubing out of the bag and hands the bag to me. I went to give her the bag and I flipped it over and half of this guy’s antibiotic spills out. It was like “why the hell did I do that?”. I guess I just forgot we opened it already. Now I’m looking back wondering what exactly we were even doing.

Then during my last clinicals, my preceptor gave me love NOx to give to someone. I couldn’t get it out of the package and the plunger came out. I was doing such a good job that day and then I was suddenly paralyzed with fear and had this pt. looking at me like, “What the hell did you do?” It’s funny how when I’m in clinicals the little things bother me so much!


Didn’t realize the blue thing on the end of the enema tubing was a cap and not a tip that you are supposed to insert. Obviously, the enema didn’t work, and this was on a pt. with a suspected ileus. I called the doc, charge nurse ended up coming to help. She realized I was an idiot and told the doctor as well as every nurse on the floor why my enema ‘didn’t work’. Cringe.


Turning the stopcock, the wrong way on an NGT.

[–]kjvincentNeuro RN

Did that once. Most of the patients on my floor that have NGT will have a continuous feeding, so I’ll turn the stopcock to block flow from the feeding pump when giving meds and turn it back open when I’m done. I had one patient with an NG tube that was intermittent feedings so not hooked up to a pump. I gave my meds as usual but then left the stopcock in the open position like I’d do with a continuous feed. Came back to find a puddle of all the crushed meds I had just given in the patient’s bed.

[–]nunikiRN – ER

Okay, this thread has genuinely made me laugh. thank you.

[–]CeeZeescrit care float

Not nursing, but we had a brand-new doctor wandering the halls for almost an hour – I timed it – before storming up to the nursing station and demanding to know where the telemetry on one of our patients was sending the feed because not a single computer was showing it.

“Uhh…it goes to the Cardiac doctor. The monitors are downstairs.”

“Well, what’s their number! I’m too busy to go down there!”

Lucky our HUC was on the draw and gave it to him…. then he went down anyway. Lol.


I didn’t know how to disconnect the Bipap machine from the wall O2. So naturally, I just pulled and yanked and suddenly, a firehose pressure type rush of air is blowing in my face. I could not for the life of me get the plug connected again so I hit the call light on the wall. Of course, I thought, oh man. They’re not going to be able to hear me. Then I thought… Yes, they will. The equivalent of a blow dryer directed to the phone speaker should help. So, everyone came rushing down to the room to help me. After it was all over, they thought it was hilarious cuz all they could see was my hair blowing back like a photoshoot and me struggling with it. Also pointed out that all they could hear from the nurse’s station was a loud WOOOOOSHHHHHHHHHH!!! And hadn’t a clue what was going on. At least I had my glasses on. Turns out all I was supposed to do was slide the entire apparatus up against the wall and I could disconnect the o2 thing without all that hubbub.

[–]rubellaannRN – ICU

You win.

[–]thevickerRN, BSN

Just today at the end of my shift, 06h30 I go to draw a CMP. I’m yapping with the patient and draw the blood and send it to the lab. Lab calls as I’m giving a report saying it seems the blood has been diluted with saline? I think back to me drawing it…literally right above where NS was infusing into her IV. Oops. Luckily the patient was very sweet and didn’t mind a re-draw. It was the end of my 3rd of 3 in a row.

[–]Delta3191RN – Renal, Endo, Med(AUST.)

A young patient with Bilat Below Knee Amps, usually independent with transfers and mobility via wheelchair (which didn’t get brought into the hospital) buzzed to say he needs to go to the toilet. I dropped the bed rail and ask if he needed help walking.

He looked at me and said, ‘I can try, but I don’t think I’ll get far.’

It all clicked for me, I apologized, he laughed. I got a bottle.

[–]DoctarScapulaBSN, RN – ICU

Thankfully not a personal story, but a story told to us by a clinical instructor back in school.

Apparently, the instructor received a report of a student (successfully) administering an IM injection to a patient with a blunt fill needle. No details of how it was found out, unfortunately, but I would imagine that it was rather difficult to get that needle to go in. BD (the manufacturer) states that it requires 1o times the normal force to penetrate the skin.


My nurse came to me in the morning (night shift) asking what a pt.’s output was. Said I hadn’t drained her bag yet. “Then why’s it empty?” We both go in to examine her, the drainage bag is completely empty. I peel back her incontinence brief to check the urostomy. There was a kink in the tube and the ostomy bag was darn near ready to pop. Glad we caught it in time, but the funniest part was that the nurse with 5+ years of experience didn’t know how to work a urostomy bag. “Which way is this lever thing supposed to face?” To be fair, no one taught me how to do it either and I had to teach myself.

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