How To Make A Nurse Jump A Desk


I was actually being serious for a change.

An elderly patient came in with abdominal pain. She was put on the cardiac monitor and we drew labs. Then I went in to examine her. I pressed on her stomach and she had a little pain. Didn’t feel any masses. Then I put my hand on her stomach and jiggled it a little.
“Does that hurt?” I asked.

All of a sudden, the monitor beeped then a tech and two nurses busted through the door panting. Each one had a look of shock that was more dramatic than the next.

Damn you, WhiteCoat!” They all yelled in unison.
“What did I do?”
“Very funny. Verrrrry funny. ‘What did I do?’ Hmmmph.” There was a collective sigh of relief as they walked out of the room.

I shrugged my shoulders and finished my physical exam.

When I walked out of the room, they threw an EKG strip at me and then mimicked me “What did IIII do?”

Have to admit, shaking the patient’s abdomen to check for rebound tenderness did make the middle of the strip kind of look like this or even this.

But I really didn’t mean to do it …

this time.



  1. on my unit (i’m a critical care nurse) we’ve all learned that around 8, 12 and 4 patients tend to have short runs of “vtach”. those are, of course, assessment times…and checking neuro status via sternal rub often generates a tracing similar to the one you’ve posted.

    a nurse i used to work with told me of a patient who set off all the alarms one night with what looked like a convincing vtach. the whole unit looked, only to see him brushing his teeth. after their collective sigh of relief, the patient passed out. let’s just say his attention to oral hygiene was poorly timed! the vtach didn’t stop when the tooth brushing was over.

  2. Funny!

    I’m not a medical professional, but it reminds me of when my mom (78 years old at the time) was in the hospital for a knee replacement. I was with her 24/7 so saw a lot. One night was very funny when every few minutes the thing monitoring O2 sats would start beeping. The nurses would come running in, check her over, leave after assuring everything was fine. After several of these, they changed the monitor and everything was fine. Sure had them on their toes!

  3. I gave this bit of advice to a pleasant elderly gent when I was on a medicine rotation – “If you need something and the call bell doesn’t work, just tap the red button on your chest about ten times really fast.” This, of course, makes a convincing VT appear on the monitor at the nurses station. Needless to say, I had to bring donuts for a week!

  4. Classic!
    I actually did that to a fellow nurse once during transport. I did the tappity-tap-tap on the chest leads.. caused a similar view.
    And yes, their eyeballs reached out of their skull.

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