Urban legends are usually quite frightening all by themselves, but when they are combined with a cold and sterile hospital setting, these legendary stories seem to become more frightening still.
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The Industrious Janitor
Possibly the most popular of all hospital-based urban legends is the one involving the mysterious deaths that happened in one particular bed at only a very specific time and only on one day of the week. Every Friday – or Sunday! – doctors would find a patient mysteriously dead in their bed, with nothing to account for their sudden demise. After a long and arduous investigation, however, an energetic, if dim-witted, cleaner would be found to unplug the bed’s lift-support system every week on a particular day and time, thus causing the patients’ sudden and unexpected deaths.
Infected becomes Infector
The hospital staff who treated the woman dying of cervical cancer had no idea that her blood was giving off noxious fumes until they started to succumb, one by one, to a combination of mysterious symptoms. Dizziness leading to unconsciousness, followed by having little to no control over one’s limbs leading to the actual death of the bones themselves, were the most common symptoms, but it was only after an in-depth review of who all workers who succumbed had been in contact with, that it was determined the dying woman had somehow caused the epidemic.
Lost and Sometimes Found
It was against the backdrop of a panicked Phuket hospital room that pictures were taken of a small, shocked little girl who had survived the Indonesian tsunami in December 2004. She had been admitted to the hospital after she had been separated from her family by the deadliest wave in recorded history, and her picture was taken in her hospital room in an attempt to reunite her with her parents. Her picture spread throughout the internet, and, eventually, she was recognized and flown home to her family. This would, however, never have happened without the random kindness of the Phuket hospital staff.
Perhaps none of the hospital urban legends are as creepy as the sad tale of Black Aggie. After being accused of, and executed for, several mysterious patient deaths, Nurse Aggie’s innocence was established on the very day after she died. Although this may have cleared her name at the hospital, it did nothing to lessen the impact she was going to have on Druid Ridge Cemetery, where a statue erected to commemorate her exoneration stood, and was the subject of intense paranormal activity, for several decades.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Another of the extremely popular urban legends that takes place in a hospital is actually a cautionary tale against the use of cellular telephones in the presence of sensitive machinery. The four year old only daughter of a young couple has broken her leg. The break is bad; she needs surgery and also needs to be hooked up to a life support system. The operation goes well until the last possible second when the life support system flatlines and the little girl dies. No-one can explain the machine’s sudden death until one of the doctors leaves the operating room to find the girl’s parents and finds, instead, a person talking on their cell phone right outside the door. The moral of the tale is that cell phones and life support systems don’t mix, but finding this out is, of course, too late for the little girl.
Hospital urban legends can be silly, creepy, scary or downright terrifying, so it’s a good thing that most of have no root in truth.
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Amanda Coskins is a pediatric nurse and guest author at best-rn-to-bsn.com, a resource site for prospective students who wish to review the top RN to BSN programs.