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20 Nursing Slang and Code Words

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By Kristen Smith, R.N.

In every career, there is job slang and code words that are specific to that particular line of work. It’s no different for nurses. We have our own slang terms and code phrases, some of which are quite entertaining! Some words and phrases, you will notice are specific to certain geographical areas. There are many terms that you may have never heard, but are very common in other North American states or even other countries! HHere are some of the most common nursing slang terms and codes!

#1. “Princess/Prince/Diva”

This refers to a patient who stays on the call bell frequently for minor things and seems to never be satisfied. For example: Pillow must be fluffed just so, requires X number of blankets, requests Styrofoam cups instead of plastic, etc.

#2. Celestial Discharge

Sadly, it is not as pretty as it sounds. When a patient is celestially discharged, it means that the patient has died.

#3. “Code brown”

Large poop. Call backup.

#4. “Frequent flyer”

Usually, this phrase is used along with #2. Refers to patients that come into the ER a lot.

#5. “Sundowner/sundowning”

Patients with dementia start going crazy when the sun goes down. Alert and oriented sweet little old lady turns to confused and combative old lady in two-point restraints by 7 pm. Everyone with a dementia diagnosis all aboard the Ativan at 5 pm!

#6. “Vampire”

No, it’s not Edward Cullen. A hospital vampire is a phlebotomist.

#7. “Trainwreck”

A patient who is not doing well, with multiple acute problems at one time. For example:

81 y/o  confused female, non-ambulatory, incontinent, 2pt nonviolent restraints. Dx: CHF exac, COPD, Afib,  4L NC
Vitals: BP 190/100, HR 100, RR 24, O2 92%, Temp 99.2,
Labs: hgb 6.2 WBC 12 trop 0.12

#8. “Happy juice”
IV pain medication.

#9. “DT-ing”
Referring to DT (Delirium Tremens) protocol

#10. “fluid overload
Hypervolemia, usually in CHF patients

#11. “PITA”
A patient who is a “Pain in the A$$”

#12. “About to kick the bucket”
Patient is not doing well- about to code.

#13. “Nurslings”
Student nurses

#14. “Vitamin H”
Vitamin Haldol. LOL!

#15. “Vitamin P”
A clever name for Lasix. Go figure.

#16. “Milk of amnesia
If someone is getting milk of amnesia it means someone is getting propofol.

#17. “Walkie talkie”
Refers to a patient that every nurse dreams of- one that can walk and talk (self-care, low maintenance)

#18. “Drug seeker”
Phrase used for patients who are addicted to narcotics or other controlled substances and are needing “a fix” for whatever reason and come to the ER to get it.

#19. “Breathing treatment”
Refers to smoking a cigarette.

#20. “Penile intubation”

Placing a foley in a male patient.

There are 20 nurse slang terms that I’m sure many of you recognize! What slang words you use at work? Now, get back to work STAT, and don’t forget to allow yourself a little R&R! *wink wink*

The Nursing Code: Nursing Infographic about Slang
The Nursing Code: Nursing Infographic about Slang
I am a full-time registered nurse, wife and new mom. I've recently started writing part-time and I love it! My family is my life. I enjoy spending time with them in my free time.

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