Disturbing Medical Blunders

We put our trust in our doctors—but they aren't always perfect. In fact, sometimes they mess up bad. Here are some of the most disturbing medical blunders we've ever heard of.

1. This Doctor Was Pure Poison

I had a 2-year-old patient show up in the ER. She and her dad had been out in the fields in a small town several hours away from the nearest big city, where I worked. The dad took the child to the ER in the small town with an obvious snake bite. I'm still so furious when I think about what the doctor did. He shrugged and said, “Eh, it’s ok. She probably didn’t get envenomated,” and didn’t give the patient antivenom, which they had on-site.

They then elected to send the child to our hospital by ambulance instead of by helicopter. Several hours later, the patient showed up at our hospital coding and ended up not making it.

Medical Blunders facts


2. A Gut-Wrenching Ordeal

From the age of about 17, I started getting chronic abdominal pain every day and terrible gut problems. It was so bad, and I couldn’t eat much. I would get fluctuating diarrhea and constipation, and menstruation became more and more painful.

I started losing enormous amounts of blood, despite being incredibly small. It seemed like a gynecological problem.

However, my doctor, who was a woman, insisted it was anxiety and said she "wouldn't bother testing for or treating a gynecological problem unless I was older and was having trouble conceiving". I'll never forgive her for that. Over the next few years, my gut and uterus symptoms slowly deteriorated. I was bounced around the system to dozens of different specialists.

I was told it was just stress, anxiety, even possible pregnancy, and was told to take various over-the-counter products. Meanwhile, my gut function slowly ground to a halt.

A functional gut test showed it took me six hours to pass an egg sandwich when it should have taken 90 minutes. I was losing weight and bowel control. No treatment seemed to work.

At 24, I was unable to work because I was literally uncontrollably pooping my pants. Doctors suggested I should seek therapy and suggested I was exaggerating. One day, I saw a new general practitioner for some regular health tests.

I received an abnormal Pap smear. Within two weeks, I went in for an exploratory laparoscopy to rule out cervical cancer.

They discovered I was riddled with endometriosis—on my bowel, on my cervix, on my perineum, on some ligaments, even in my gall bladder. I also had an ovarian cyst the size of a tennis ball.

I had excisions and treatment and was able to get my gut function back within three months, although I would never be able to have children.

If the doctor I went to at 17 had just done her job, I wouldn't have lost seven years of my life, my gall bladder, fertility, and mental health.

Embarrassing Doctor’s Visits facts


3. Her Decline Was Maddening

During my residency, we had a lady in her 60s who was getting progressively more forgetful, just overall declining and getting less and less able to take care of herself.

She saw her primary care physician, who diagnosed her with dementia, and a neurologist who agreed with that diagnosis.

Although she could not provide an accurate history, after talking to her family and friends, it became apparent that her symptoms were progressing unusually fast.

But something was just...wrong. I remember seeing the point where her new hair growth met her bright red hair dye and also her grown-out nails with hot pink polish. I thought that it obviously wasn't too long ago that she was not only taking care of herself, but going to get her hair and nails done. However, the lady who was in front of me was far from that.

The neurologist I was training with recognized this and had her admitted. He did every test, including a lumbar puncture. The workup eventually showed Creutzfeld Jakob disease—mad cow disease, which unfortunately has no treatment.

She passed a few months later, but at least we were able to prepare her family for her inevitable decline so that they could make the proper arrangements.

Deathbed confessions


4. Keeping Abreast Of My Health

When I was 26 years old, I found a lump in my breast. I had learned how to do self-checks, and I knew this lump felt different than a cyst. It felt exactly like the tumors I had been taught to recognize. The first doctor said, "

You're too young for breast cancer". I didn't accept that and went to a second doctor where I got, "It hurts when I mash it, right?" It didn’t.

They also said, "It gets bigger with your period, right?" I told them, no, but they insisted, saying, "Sure it does!" The third doctor told me, "You'll have an ugly scar if I biopsy it". By this point, I wanted to scream. I finally told the fourth doctor to call 9-1-1 to get me off his table because I wasn't leaving without scheduling a biopsy. It turned out I had Stage 2 cancer. After surgery, nine months of chemo, three months of radiation, and being told I couldn't have kids, I survived, had three kids, and had a long life.

Embarrassing Doctor’s Visits facts