25 Life Hacks Every Nurse Should Know

nurse life hacks

Do you know that there are awesome nurse life hacks? Life hacks are ingenious solutions to the common problems we face every day. These solutions will cut your way to easier tasks so you can save time and energy.

Here are some of the most famous life hacks every nurse should know nowadays:

1. Use normal saline solution as contact lens solution

Whenever you forget to bring your contact lens solution, normal saline solution can save your contact lenses from drying out. You can also use it as an emergency eye drop for dry eyes or eye irritation.

2. Use triple gloves during code brown

triple gloving

Code brown is truly messy so to save your hands from unexpected poop exposure, try triple gloving.

After cleaning up every trace of feces in your patient, peel away the first layer of gloves.  This way, you will not waste time in wearing a new set of gloves when applying a clean diaper. Then, remove the second layer of gloves after waste disposal and when you have to put on a new set of bed sheet.

You do not only save time in wearing different sets of gloves, but you are also ensuring that your hands are well-protected from the mess.

Also read: 20 Funniest Things Only Nurses Would Understand

 3. Use isolation gowns for messy meals

isolation gowns

If you are worried about getting stains on your scrubs during your meal, just wear an isolation gown. It works like an apron as it will shield your scrubs from unwanted meal stains.

4. Use coffee grounds as odor absorber

coffee grounds absorb odor

Can’t get rid of that odor from your patient’s bedpan or emesis basin? Just put some grounded coffee and it will absorb the unpleasant smell.

It also works on hospital rooms.  Just put a small pot of grounded coffee beans at the center of the room to dispel bad odors.

5. Soak nasogastric tube in ice before insertion

nurse life hack

Chilled nasogastric tubes are great because of two main reasons – they reduce the unpleasant feeling of NGT insertion and they make for easier insertion. Aside from soaking the tube in ice, you can also opt to place it in the freezer for 15 – 30 minutes.

6. Put a warm washcloth over area of IV insertion

warm washcloth

When starting an IV line, it helps to put a warm washcloth over the preferred site of insertion. This will help dilate blood vessels so you can pick a good vein for an IV line.

Also read: 35 IV Therapy Tips & Tricks for Nurses

7. For female patients, try double insertion of foley catheter 

When you can’t get a urine flow after inserting a foley catheter in a female patient, don’t remove it and get a new one. While the first foley catheter is still in place, insert the second one by aiming higher. This trick will reduce the chance of missing the urethral opening again.

8. Put a urine collector bag on a pediatric patient for urinalysis before blood collection

If your pediatric patient is going for a urinalysis, make sure to put a urine collector before the medical technologist sticks the child for blood works. Most kids pee accidentally during blood workups and this is a good chance for urinalysis specimen collection.

9. Use hydrogen peroxide for blood stains

hydrogen peroxide stain

Hydrogen peroxide is most effective for removing blood stains on cloths. It can be used as an instant stain remover in times of emergencies.

10. Add lotion on your wipes for sticky poop

There are some cases of code brown where it is really hard to remove traces of feces off the skin especially if the patient has C. Diff infection. In cased like these, just apply lotion on your wipes. This trick will help remove traces of feces off the skin.

11. When priming a new tubing, do clamp, spike and fill

Clamp the tubing first, spike the bag and fill the drip chamber before priming. This way, you can avoid formation of air bubbles in the IV tubing as you prime your IV fluid.

12. Put an examination glove over your stethoscope

For contact precautions, put an examination glove over the stethoscope you are using.  The, after every usage, just remove the gloves and discard.

Gloves are thin enough to hear sensitive sounds through the stethoscope’s diaphragm but thick enough to prevent the risk of infection transmission between patients.

13. For confused patients who keep on going out of bed, give them a pile of washcloths to fold

washcloth folding

Some confused patients keep trying to get out of bed and short of tying them down, it’s hard to keep them in one place.  What you can do is to give them a pile of towels or washcloths to fold.  This trick gives them a sense of purpose so they can remain occupied in their rooms.

14. Cut a tourniquet into half for IV insertions on pediatric patients

Most of the time, a tourniquet is too thick or too long for pediatric patients. To initiate a good grab, cut the tourniquet into half and this will fit the small limbs of pediatric patients.

15. Use cloth or gauze for IV insertion on hairy skin

When inserting IV lines into patients with hairy limbs, use a piece of cloth or gauze as a skin barrier upon application of tourniquet.  This trick will reduce the pain associated with tourniquet friction rubbing against their hairy skin.

16. Use toothpaste or Vicks between two masks for worst smells

vicks smell

Nurses are used to the smell of every body fluid you can imagine. However, there are really tough smells that can knock off your nose. During these times, applying mentholated scent like toothpaste or Vicks between two masks is effective in protecting your sense of smell.

Also read: 10 Everyday Things Nurses Can’t Live Without

17. Use rubbing alcohol to untangle matted hair

Rubbing alcohol is effective in dissolving sticky residues in the hair of bed-ridden patients. You can use this trick before or after a patient’s daily bed bath.

18. When inserting a foley catheter, don’t just lubricate the tip of the catheter

Take the syringe with lubricant and squeeze it directly to the urethra. This will keep the lubricant in one place.

This trick also prevents unnecessary droppings if you will put the lubricant at the tip of the foley catheter. By applying this life hack, you are ensuring adequate lubrication for the procedure without compromising aseptic technique.

19. Use shaving cream for removing sticky feces

feces removal

For a nurse, it’s not unusual to find yourself with sticky feces stuck to your skin.  In removing it off your skin, try applying shaving cream before using wipes. Shaving cream works like lotion and will help loosen and remove sticky feces from your skin faster.

20. Use the sock-on-sock technique

If you need to remove one sock from a patient to do a procedure and don’t want to accidentally misplace the sock, use the sock-on-sock technique.

When removing one sock from your patient, put the removed sock over the other sock on the other foot. This trick will help keep you from losing a patient’s sock.

21. To get patients’ respiratory rate, just say you will get their pulse

pulse rate

When patients know that a nurse is observing their respiratory rate, they have a tendency to be conscious of their breathing or even hold their breath.  To avoid this, just pretend that you are instead getting their pulse.

Go through the motions of taking their pulse but actually take their respiratory rate.

22. If you need to clamp a foley catheter for urinalysis specimen collection, you can use an empty syringe barrel to clamp the urine bag tubing

Just remove the plunger and insert the folded tubing into the empty barrel of the syringe. This trick comes in handy whenever you run out of Kelly clamps.

23. Use k.y. jelly or lubricant to remove dried blood 

remove blood stains

Wiping dried blood with wet wipes will take some time but if you coat the area first with lubricant, the dried blood will be loosened easily.

24. Instead of writing on your arm, attach micropore and write there

The things you write on your skin can be erased accidentally whenever you are sweaty or when you are doing hand washing. Writing on a strip of micropore attached to your forearm is helpful in keeping track of your work especially under pressure like in code blue.

25. Create a thumb hole in your isolation gown to prevent the sleeves from sliding down your arms

thumb hole in sleeves

You can do this by punching a hole in the sleeves of the gown for your thumb before putting on your gloves. Make sure that you will leave your thumb in this hole before donning your gloves. This is needed to ensure that the sleeves will not fall off while doing nursing care.

Read Also: 15 Nurse Life Hacks Every Nurse Should Know (Part 2)

These brilliant life hacks for nurses are just some of the most popular ones around. Do you know more nurse life hacks? Share them with your fellow nurses in the comments below.


About the Author: Je Abarra is a nurse by profession and a freelance writer by passion. She is working as a staff nurse in the pediatric ward of a private city hospital for more than two years. During her free time, she usually writes about her fascinations in health and nursing. She loves to provide tips and fun facts about nursing and healthy living.