Smells of the ED

I turned the corner the other night, and smelled one of the unique odors that makes EM special: urine and peppermint.

Peppermint oil is very frequently used, and is a decent cover-up smell, but urine is one of those all-pervasive olfactory treats that means you’re in the hospital.

Alleys don’t smell like peppermint.


  1. hypnoid says:

    Apparently there is a town in Brazil which has decided to combat its public urination->streets smell like urine problem by spraying around a chemical which makes stale urine smell like strawberries. If done well, this could put me off strawberries for life.

  2. worst smells… hmmm, i might have to do the post. hope i don’t smell that pepermint when i die, that means i’m in the ED and they will try to code me.

  3. jrobatc says:

    Worst is a three way tie between melana stool, a foul abscess, or the drunk’s breath, a putrid mix of blood, tobacco, and cheap beer, while you are sewing up his large lip lac. I guess I’d put the obese, diabetic female with vaginal discharge and poor hygeine up there as well.

  4. stopthepain says:

    how ’bout an infected pilonidal cyst in a morbidly obese diabetic. mmmmmm.

  5. [redacted] says:

    toxic sock syndrome

  6. Personally, I love the smell of foul urine!!!! Really, what could be better!!! It is funny, because the peppermint is so overwhelming, but trust me….if you are in there, it is better than the alternative……I would have to agree wih Jrobatc, those listed are worse!!!!!!!

  7. SeanTheScribe says:

    GI bleeds are fun too.

  8. Around Christmas time last year I was in triage and the waiting room was full of patients and their extended families. The smell of old cigarette smoke, old body odor and old beer permeated the room. I commented under my breath to the rapid assesser that it smelled like white trash. She replied that I must have a great sense of smell. I looked at her, confused, and told her I didn’t think I needed that great a sniffer to smell that. She pointed to the registration office behind her where they had set up some cookies and holiday treats. Apparently someone had made ‘white trash’. It’s like party mix covered in white chocolate.

  9. There is really nothing worse, to me, than the smell of kool-aid-puke. Which is the sweetly putrid odor emitted by the vomitus of any consumer of too many fruity alcohol drinks. It’s to the point that I can’t even smell some of those sweet-smelling air-‘freshening’ oils without having flashbacks of a particularly bad Friday night shift.

  10. Rumblefish says:

    The worst smell for me is that of A Diabetic PT with a foot ulcer that is so bad that the only course of action is amputation. It just manages to beat out the smell of Doorian, which is quite possibly the foulest smelling fruit in the world. But it is suppringly dilicious, after you’ve gaged a few times and finally get it in you’re mouth.

  11. Jennylee says:

    Yes, love the diabetic wounds that aren’t healing because they fell off someone’s steps due to a loose bottom step. It has absolutely nothing to do with their noncompliant diabetic habits. Once they sue the landlord they’ll be set. Hmm…ever hear of working? Plus, baby lotion makes their yucky rash sting-who knows where that came from. Number 3, they smell like smoke, campfire and dog doo.