People Guess the Meanings of Popular Nursing Slang


Nurses use nurse their own slang frequently. Most of the time, we use these terms without even noticing it. You can’t survive a shift without being familiar with at least the commonly used terms.

Seriously, how many times have you described a patient as a “frequent flyer” or a “walkie-talkie”? We routinely are called to “code browns” and are ordered to give patients healthy doses of “vitamin A.”

Using the terms is a way of communicating necessary information unprofessionally. How else do you communicate in a telephone report that a patient has a crazy family member?

When you think about it, some slang has even turned into a well-known hospital-wide language. For example, the phrase “code blue” is used when a patient has stopped breathing. A “code red” means that there is a fire on the premises.


We use slang for medications. For instance, a patient will request “that medication that starts with a ‘D’. Do you mean ‘D-Motrin’?

We even use more than one slang term in a sentence! For example: “I have a patient who is about to ‘crash and burn.’ He’s got a ‘banana bag’ hanging and I just gave him a dose of ‘vitamin H.’

In this video, non-medical people guess the meanings of some of these slang terms. It’s funny to watch different people guess at the meanings of the terms. None of them guess correctly! But, really, what happens behind the nurses’ station, stays behind the nurses’ station!


Matt Vera is a registered nurse with a bachelor of science in nursing since 2009 and is currently working as a full-time writer and editor for Nurseslabs. During his time as a student, he knows how frustrating it is to cram on difficult nursing topics. Finding help online is nearly impossible. His situation drove his passion for helping student nurses by creating content and lectures that are easy to digest. Knowing how valuable nurses are in delivering quality healthcare but limited in number, he wants to educate and inspire nursing students. As a nurse educator since 2010, his goal in Nurseslabs is to simplify the learning process, break down complicated topics, help motivate learners, and look for unique ways of assisting students in mastering core nursing concepts effectively.