A guide for civilians: How NOT to be a nightmare in the hospital


Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments. I’ve kept this short so I don’t go on for the next 10 years or 10 pages…

1. Have a distinct problem.

I don’t care if it’s vomiting, a fever, a headache, joint pain, malaria, a stroke or heart attack, or a missing limb: just make sure you’ve got something wrong with you. A hospital is not the place for respite care, no matter how much you need a break.

2. Don’t over- or under-state your pain.

I have my doubts when you say you’re okay and your hands are clenched on the bedrails. I also have my doubts when you rate your pain at an 11 and are eating pizza and texting.

3. Phenergan is not for fun.

Do not ask me for Phenergan when you’re eating a huge burger with all the trimmings. If you want to take a nap, do so without pharmaceutical intervention.

4. Do not threaten the nurse.

It will not make me do my job any better if you tell me you’ll pop a cap into my anatomy.

Agatha Lellis
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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