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10 Hospital Floor Hacks Every Nurse Needs to Know

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10 Hospital Floor Hacks Every Nurse Needs to Know

In nursing, we can usually use all the help we can get! With so many things going on at all times, it’s usually “all hands on deck!” Not to mention that practically everything is time sensitive and urgent. For all of these reasons, it’s important that we master ways to tackle whatever is thrown our way and utilize our time as efficiently as possible.

To help you optimize your time on the floor, we’ve gathered 10 hospital floor hacks you definitely don’t want to miss! Take a look below.

1. Distract During IV’s 

If your patient is afraid of needles, or is generally anxious, distract them while you place the IV. One of the best ways to distract is to have the patient wiggle their toes. Though it is not very common, if you happen to be placing the IV in their foot, have them draw something with their pinky. Your patient will be thinking so much about what they are doing, it will hurt them a lot less and keep them from jumping! 

Bonus IV Tip: If you can’t get an IV in the arm, see what your hospital’s policy is on establishing an IV in the foot. Many nurses don’t think of this, but some docs will write an order if there are no viable veins in the upper extremities due to drug use, vein size, etc.

2. Code Brown

For those inevitable “code brown” situations, put two or even three pairs of gloves on before you even get to the room. Doing this will prevent you from having to switch gloves and can be a real time-saver. Double glove layers can also help with potential rips. 

3. Vaporizing Rubs

Speaking of code brown, using a vaporizing rub under your nose or on the inside of your mask can help prevent the majority of unpleasant smells. If you know you are about to walk into a smelly situation, do yourself a favor and grab the Vicks! Peppermint oil and toothpaste can also be used as substitutions when there’s no Vicks around!


4. A Quick Nausea Fix

Nausea is one of the most common symptoms experienced by patients; this is because it can be caused by a wide variety of underlying conditions or medications. If your patient has some nausea, but you don’t have any ordered ondansetron or any other nausea medication, try waving an alcohol swab under their nose before you call the doctor! This simple trick can sometimes bring relief in just the nick of time.

5. PEG Tube Medications

Though you should always follow pharmacists advice on the best route of administration, some medications you will have to crush to be able to administer through a PEG tube or even an NG tube. To make it quicker and make sure you get all of the medication, take your 60mL syringe, pop out the plunger, stick in your medication or medications (again, ask your pharmacist!) and then stick the plunger back in. Suck up just a little bit of water and plug the dispensing end. Pull the plunger back and forth which will create pressure and crush your medications. Add water up to the 30mL line and your medications are crushed, suspended, and ready to go with no mortar and pestle needed.

6. Remove Stubborn Fluids

This hack is a two in one. First, if your patient has dried blood on them, use some lubricant. Most units have a lubricant (such as KY jelly) in the supply room. Take some of that and rub it on the dried blood, wipe with gauze or a washcloth and it will come right off. 

Furthermore, if you have a patient with feces dried in their body hair or on their skin, try grabbing some shaving cream. Rub the shaving cream in the problem area and wipe with a damp, warm washcloth. No more rough scrubbing during bath time!


7. Coffee Grounds

Not only is coffee delicious, it absorbs odors! Well, the grounds do at least. If your patient’s room has a less than pleasant odor, take a small basin or cup and put some coffee grounds from the breakroom in it. The grounds will absorb the odor and make the room much more bearable to be in.

8. Oxygen Saturations

Are you having a hard time getting oxygen saturation on your patient’s fingers? This can sometimes happen when patients are cold or have artificial nails on. Whatever the case may be, try using a disposable wrap-around probe on the ear lobe instead of the finger! If that doesn’t work, try using their toe.

9.The Saving Grace For NPO Patients

Most units keep this secret weapon in the supply closet and sometimes the nurses don’t even know! Check to see if your floor has lemon swabs. They are a plastic or paper stick with cotton at the end that has lemon flavoring, almost like a lollipop. If you have them, give some to your patients who can’t have anything by mouth. It will keep their mouth from getting dry and give them some relief while still abiding by the rules.

10. Reduce Call Lights

By far the best way to reduce call lights is to make a shift plan for each patient based on their medications, turn times, etc. and share that with the patient and the family if they are there. This is especially important for your pain patients. 

Many times, if the patient knows you will be coming around at a specific time, they will be less likely to use the call light unless they need something more immediately. 

These are some of our favorite floor hacks, but we want to see what you’ve got! Drop a comment below and tell us how you’re owning your shifts!

Katelyn Johnson

Katelyn Johnson


Katelyn has a Master’s in Healthcare Administration and five years of clinical experience. She has made the shift to full-time freelance writing and enjoys covering topics on nursing careers, lifestyle, and community. Her goal is to help start a conversation and spread awareness around the many ups and downs of the healthcare field.


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