Dumber Than Dumb Patients

November 20, 2023 | Violet Newbury

Dumber Than Dumb Patients


Medical professionals have to deal with a wide variety of patients and, let’s face it, not everyone is the brightest candle on the cake. From people playing doctor to self-medicating with home remedies, it is a wonder how some patients even survive.


1. She Had A Few Screws Loose

There was this one time I was working as a surgery nurse, and I had a patient who'd been to our operating room before. They'd had an elbow fracture and received some plates and screws as treatment. But these pieces of hardware started causing them pain, and rather than consulting their surgeon, they decided on a pretty startling self-treatment method.

She attempted to extract one of the screws using just a blade and a screwdriver. I wound up handling her case, tasked with cleaning up the wound and replacing the screw she'd tried to dislodge. She definitely ranks as one of the oddest patients I've encountered.

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2. A Throat Of No Confidence

So, backstory: I worked as an ER doctor. One night, around 2 AM, a 20-year-old guy and his girlfriend rushed in, practically panicking, convinced that "something had ripped his throat apart". But upon examining him, everything seemed pretty normal. 

No traces of blood, his breathing was even. I asked him to open his mouth wide and... still nothing. I had to keep him reassured that I knew my stuff, though he seemed to think otherwise. Obviously, something had scared him—so I kept investigating. But time and again, I found nothing alarming about the guy's throat. 

At last, I had to break it to him: “You appear alright. Can you describe what exactly you are feeling or seeing?" He responded, "Well I can't feel it, but LOOK, IT'S RIGHT THERE". I was puzzled and responded, “Where?" still trying to figure it out. And then it clicked. Turns out, it was his uvula.

This guy had sailed through 20 years of life without ever noticing his own uvula. And his girlfriend was equally taken aback. I reassured them that it was perfectly normal biology, but they remained skeptical. Delighted to put their nerves to rest, I said, "Brace yourself for a shock," and promptly showed the girlfriend her own uvula too.

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3. Detached From Reality

I once encountered a young guy in the emergency room who'd previously been in a bar fight. He woke up the next day, experiencing unusual changes in his vision. He described a "black curtain falling" over his left eye. This is actually a classic sign of a detached retina, a truly urgent medical issue. 

If the retina completely detaches, it results in permanent loss of vision. The immediate course of action is to undergo surgery, then be as gentle as possible with the eye for several weeks following the procedure. A patient even has to keep their head down for a few days to assist the process of reattachment. 

However, this particular patient took a different path. Rather than taking it easy, this guy decided to join his friends for a day at a local amusement park, spending the day riding roller coasters. Sadly, he showed up in our ER two days later with irreversible vision loss in that affected eye.

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4. His Stupidity Fueled His Injury

One day, I had a patient who had unintentionally injured his leg with a chainsaw the previous day. He had sliced his fibula and partially his tibia. Using diesel fuel, he disinfected the wound, taped it up with duct tape, and continued with his work. Then, the following day, he stepped down from something and his leg completely gave way.

He walked through the clinic's main entrance, his leg unnaturally bending and swaying in places it shouldn't. Despite this, he expressed his pain as a 6 out of 10. He was quite a tough older gentleman. We then admitted him to the orthopedic department to clean the diesel and remove the damaged tissue.

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5. No Tea Or Sympathy

A woman came to me, a recent breast cancer diagnosee. She had a toddler and was going through a tough break-up. It was a good thing her cancer wasn't too far along when they caught it. When the ER physician inquired about her treatment plan, his eyebrows raised at her answer.

She mentioned she had opted for alternative methods, leaning on antioxidant teas and homeopathic remedies instead of traditional methods. He took a deep breath, looked her straight in the eye, and dove in. "Using alternative treatments just won't cut it. If you don't turn to surgery, chemo, or other methods suggested by cancer specialists, it's a terminal sentence," he warned.

He continued, "Imagine your three-year-old. How do you think he'll cope, growing up without his mother, if you leave him behind in a few years because you refused mainstream treatment?" Judging by her mortified expression, it was clear no one had ever delivered this stark truth to her before. 

Straight away, she agreed to meet with a cancer specialist in our hospital. Could the doctor’s delivery have been softer? Perhaps. But his directness might have cemented her decision to seek treatment, possibly saving her life.

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6. All Choked Up

The lady I was assisting during childbirth had heartburn and was using a Quick Eze tablet to deal with it. Simultaneously, she was inhaling a mixture of gas and air for pain management. She sucked in so eagerly that the lozenge got lodged in her throat. This led us to announce a medical emergency, a code blue, because she couldn't get it out with coughing.

Ultimately, we managed to solve the problem. She was fine and returned to her birthing process. But, surprisingly, she repeated the same mistake only ten minutes later. We had to signal a medical emergency once again. That's when I really wished I could tell someone that they shouldn't be permitted to take the baby home because their actions made me deeply question their child-rearing abilities.

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7. This Bud’s For You

I once had a patient, quite a character, who despite seeming quite amiable, had evidently spent most of his life drinking way too much. Initially, he came to the hospital with a simple problem, "I can't seem to keep my fluids down. Each time I try, I end up regurgitating my drink a few minutes later". But as it turned out, that wasn't even the whole story.

In reality, our friend hadn't had a proper meal in months, surviving mostly on beer, and, shockingly, had not had a bowel movement in over two weeks. Yet, none of this seemed to bother him until he wasn't able to enjoy his usual drinks. That's when he thought it was necessary to seek medical help.

Upon examination, we discovered a sizable tumor in his left colon. Over time, this had caused everything to back up, all the way to his stomach, explaining his inability to keep down his drinks. There simply wasn't any space left. I performed a colostomy on him, and he successfully recovered and was discharged.

He declined chemotherapy, leading me to assume he would soon succumb to his cancer. Surprisingly though, almost a year to the day, he returned with the same problem. Only this time, it was because his colostomy had sunk into his abdomen and his skin was almost fully healed over it.

In fact, he had a tiny hole in his skin through which he was voiding his bowels. This was so unusual that even my most experienced colleagues hadn't witnessed anything like it. However, our patient wasn't at all bothered by this. He was just eager to get it fixed so he could resume his life of drinking. 

I obliged, and since then I haven't heard from him. I do hope he's still out there, blissfully using his Budweiser to fend off the finality of life.

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8.  Chewed Out

For two decades, I worked as a nurse. My spouse was an intriguing mix of a bottomless pit when it came to food and had an unusually high threshold for pain. One day, I met him for a lunch date, only to be concerned when he didn't touch his food, complaining about pain in his lower stomach. 

Reaching out to a doctor friend, I secured an immediate CT scan for him, and he then went home to wait for the results. In line with his personality, my husband shrugged off his pain, feeling well enough to consume two chili dogs loaded with Fritos. However, that turned out to be a significant error on his part. 

The doctor ended up urgently calling, instructing him to dash to the hospital since his appendix was on the brink of bursting. But due to his oversized meal, he had to wait a frustrating 12 hours before they could operate.

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9. Hoarding Garlic

My sister-in-law used to be a family doctor. One day, a middle-aged woman visited her, complaining up a storm about unsavory discomfort and strange smells "down there". Despite the woman assuring my sister-in-law that she hadn't been with anyone intimately for the last eight years, my sis was still intrigued enough to investigate further.

She started an exam after the patient got into the proper attire, immediately noticing a seriously rotten smell. The doc did her best to keep things professional, fighting back the urge to gag. In the midst of the examination, she quickly discovered and removed three large garlic cloves.

At first, the patient played dumb when asked about the garlic. But in a sudden change of tune, she admitted that she'd completely forgotten she'd placed them there six weeks ago. She said she'd been trying to solve the odor issue on her own and just followed some advice she found with a quick online search. 

The stunned look in my sister-in-law’s eyes after that revelation is something I'll never forget.

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10. Pee’d Off

A gentleman came in dealing with dehydration and other standard health problems. We inserted a catheter inside him. It's surprising how some men find it strange not to urinate standing up. Therefore, despite not feeling any need to pee, this man stood up anyway. He noticed the catheter, couldn't remember why it was there, and quickly removed it. 

As a result, he struggled with incontinence afterwards.

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11. MIA For Some Mash

During my medical school days, we once had a patient diagnosed with Zenker's diverticulum. This condition basically creates a pocket in the esophagus where food and drink can get trapped. This can cause someone to hawk out their food and potentially aspirate, which could lead to serious complications such as pneumonia.

Our team was handling his case and had scheduled him for surgery on Friday. However, the man vanished on Thursday night, leaving us all clueless. He reappeared on Monday in the ER and got readmitted. When we asked him why he had disappeared, his answer left us all flabbergasted. 

He admitted that he didn't want to miss a large food festival over the weekend. So rather than receiving the necessary surgery, he opted to feast on rich, deep-fried fare, a decision that could have tragically cut his life short.

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12. Jawbreaker

Once, I had a job at a dental surgery clinic. One day, a patient required a tooth extraction. The complexity was that the tooth's root was dangerously close to his jawbone, necessitating the use of anesthesia. But the catch was, anesthesia came with a cost of $350 which the patient was unwilling to bear, and hence, opted to perform the extraction himself.

You know what he did? He grabbed a pair of pliers and went to town...It did not turn out well. He managed to fracture his jaw. Consequently, we had to intervene, repair the broken jaw, and wire his mouth shut. This whole rescue operation cost a whopping $9,000 instead of the original $500.

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13. Not Again

My sister had just found out she was expecting. We were in the middle of shopping when I noticed she was feeling significant discomfort, which seemed to be escalating. She dismissed it as just an episode of indigestion. Seeing her in this state, I decided to handle both our carts at the checkout as she took a moment to rest.

 However, when she started to vomit, alarm bells started to ring, and I suggested we make a trip to the emergency room. Despite her pain, she insisted it was merely gas and mentioned that she had a doctor's appointment the next day to discuss it. At her checkup, she was due to have an ultrasound before seeing her OB-GYN. 

Five minutes into her appointment, she called me in a panic, saying they had directed her to get dressed, stay put and an ambulance had been called. The unfortunate incident turned out to be a severe ectopic pregnancy, resulting in internal bleeding. Thankfully, she made it through and conceived again two months later, giving birth to my darling nephew. 

Yet, it appears she's not taken the previous experience as a lesson. Seeing her unhealthy and worn out for weeks on end, I finally persuaded her to visit her doctor—the diagnosis this time was pneumonia.

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14. Didn’t See That Coming

One evening, I felt an irritating itch in my eye. Assuming my contact lens had dried up and was stuck, I set out to remove it. I pinched forcefully, aiming to pry it off, but suddenly, my sight started playing tricks on me and a severe pain kicked in. Unable to see properly, I gave in and decided to visit the emergency room.

Shockingly, it came to light that my contact lens had actually fallen out before I even started trying to remove it. So, all this while, I was essentially scratching my eyeball harshly. This resulted in me having to sport an eye patch and use some rather uncomfortable eye drops for a week or two.

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15. Alleviating The Problem

I had surgery to fix a stress fracture in my foot, and they gave me a two-month supply of Vicodin for the pain. My ex-husband, a former addict, worried me into thinking I'd get seriously addicted if I used the Vicodin for more than a few days. So, I decided to switch and started taking Aleve because it was more powerful than Tylenol, and I only needed to take one pill per day.

The downside was that my foot took much longer to heal. Instead of the expected six weeks, a couple of months passed and there was scant healing progress. I had a CT scan done, because the same little fracture just wasn't improving. When my doctor inquired about how I was handling the pain, I told him about the Aleve I was taking. That's when a shocking reality hit me.

Apparently, NSAIDs like Aleve can actually hinder bone healing. Once I stopped taking Aleve, my foot finally started to heal and completely recovered a few weeks later.

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16. Self-Shocker

I once helped a client recover from a stroke using TENS—a therapy method employing gentle electric pulses to activate muscles and nerves. After completing therapy, he was given the opportunity to take this equipment home without a cost. He opted not to do this because he thought completing a short form was too taxing, and instead, he chose to make use of resources he already had at home.

He ended up using a transformer/transistor in an attempt to mimic the "therapy". Unfortunately, this severely damaged the slight nerve function we had managed to restore during therapy, causing his condition to worsen considerably.

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17. A Six-Pack Is Not The Solution

There was this guy who, despite his addiction problems, seemed to genuinely enjoy hospital stays. One day he checked into the emergency department with a severe foot infection. His struggle with poorly managed diabetes had resulted in a deep foot ulcer, which had gotten so severe that it reached the bone and caused osteomyelitis, a bone infection. 

We had to keep him hospitalized for a bit to manage this intense infection. Once his condition was stable enough, we sent him home and arranged for regular wound care follow-ups. But after just six hours, he was back and for an utterly unbelievable reason. 

His normal pharmacy was out of the pain meds we'd prescribed him, so instead of trying a different store, he picked up a six-pack. After downing all of it, he decided to pay his sister a visit. Unfortunately, on the way, he soiled himself, contaminating his diabetic foot ulcer. 

On his arrival, his sister, seeing his intoxicated state, told him she couldn't handle it and he needed to get himself to the hospital. So, he came back to us. In the end, he lost a toe and part of his foot.

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18. Headed For Disaster

A homeless man came to us in the ER sporting a minor cut on his head. We patched it up right away. But after that, he returned to his life on the streets, never coming back for the scheduled follow-up a week later. Fast forward six months, and he returned. To say we were shocked would be an understatement.

Beneath his scalp lived a whole community of maggots.

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19. A Sore Spot

I once cared for a patient who believed she had accidentally scratched her eye while removing her contact lens. On examination, the situation was far graver. She had developed a massive ulcer in her eye. Just like any deep wound, ulcers can cause scarring. The location of an ulcer significantly influences the extent and nature of any lasting damage.

Had her ulcer been just about half a millimeter to the left, she would've suffered some loss of her central vision. Upon further examination, it was quite evident that this wasn't her first encounter with such an issue. She had already accumulated five ulcer scars on the affected eye and eight on the other one. 

It turns out her eye problems largely stemmed from her habit of sleeping with her contact lenses on to save a few bucks. She would only replace them every three months. Her annual supply of monthly contact lenses cost around $120. But by contrast, the expense associated with treating the ulcer was considerable. 

Including the appointment fee of roughly $100, she had to shell out an extra $200 for a small bottle of medication to treat the ulcer. And, there was the copay for her subsequent visits. Since she didn't own a backup pair of glasses and couldn't wear contacts due to the ulcer, she had to shell out another $400 for an emergency pair of glasses.

The recommended contact lens usage time isn't a scheme to line the pockets of optometrists. It's for the good of your eye health. Your eye can develop a sore as a distress signal, letting you know it needs air.

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20. Case Closed

In my previous role as a worker's compensation adjuster, a claimant vanished right after a surgery was authorized. This individual resurfaced two years after with a lawyer, insisting on getting the surgery approved urgently. After several months of negotiations, the wrist surgery was finally approved. However, this didn't result in a win for anyone.

Just two days following the operation, he was found by local law enforcement aimlessly wandering on a rural road, clearly high on something known as crank, the wounds from his surgery coming undone. Consequently, both his physician and attorney severed ties with him and the state closed his case. 

The last thing I learned was that he was released from custody, collected all his prescribed medications from his home, and then went off the radar once again. I never got in touch with the surgeon thereafter and I can't help but feel uneasy about what the state of his arm might be.

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21. Chakra Con

A patient I cared for was battling severe cancer. His prognosis had been declared terminal by several doctors, which he acknowledged during his clear-minded moments and his wife claimed to understand too. Despite this, he was rushed to the emergency room one night when he was struggling to breathe, going against the patient's own desires.

This initiated a relentlessly painful and futile struggle spanning three weeks. It encompassed life support, dialysis, at least one round of CPR administered to a man whose bones were invaded by cancer. His wife was stubbornly optimistic about his health improving through holistic approaches. On top of being in denial, she lacked critical knowledge and understanding.

The ICU room was filled with an assortment of new-age trinkets including motivational posters and various stones, all brought in by her. She also rejected pain relief options fearing they would interfere with his chakras. The wife placed a crystal geode on the bed that slid beneath the patient's hip, leading to horrific results.

The patient developed a relentless, agonizing bed sore that never healed and was perpetually contaminated by his waste, making it difficult to treat. Moreover, all this suffering was inflicted on a patient who desired peace and was already in considerable pain.

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22. Quitting Was Not An Option

My mother's significant other battled oral and throat cancer. Even with a stoma and without a tongue, he still managed to smoke nearly three packs per day. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law faced a diagnosis of stage three lung cancer. She briefly gave up her own vices for a few months. 

However, once her condition seemed to be improving, she reverted back to her old habits and partying. Her health deteriorated rapidly, and within a few months, the lung cancer advanced to stage 4, spreading to her liver, kidneys, and brain. She continued lighting up until she physically couldn't anymore, just a few days before she passed. 

This was due to the brain cancer causing literal loss of control over her limbs. It was an extremely heartbreaking experience to witness.

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23. Hippie Hijinks

In my previous role as a radiographer, we specialized in using radiation therapy to treat cancer patients. We always reminded our patients to be mindful about the skincare products they used since some could negatively interact with the radiation, leading to severe side effects. I'll never forget this one patient, who could best be described as a true bohemian spirit.

A few weeks into her treatment, we noticed her skin becoming redder and starting to break down. We had initially advised her to stick with using basic moisturizers and check with us about using any other products. When we asked if she was using anything on her skin, she excitedly responded, "I'm happy you asked!" 

She then produced a pamphlet from her bag advertising a so-called 'miracle oil' claiming to cure cancer. She admitted to applying this oil daily, without realizing that it was intensifying the radiation's effects, causing her skin to peel painfully. 

We urgently advised her to stop, explaining that any potential use should only be considered post-treatment. However, she lashed out, accusing us of suppressing this 'cure' to protect our jobs, before storming off. But she wasn't done yet.

The next day, she returned, distributing the same pamphlets to every patient entering our department. Firmly believing in the oil's curing power, she refused to resume her radiation therapy. We had to involve security and her doctor in explaining the situation to her.

We were then tasked with reclaiming the pamphlets from other patients and clarifying why the information was erroneous through a public service announcement. She never returned after this incident.

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24. Sweet Jesus!

A young child unknowingly had diabetes and fell into a coma induced by ketosis. His body was losing an extreme amount of fluids due to his unusually high blood sugar. In seeing their kid clearly showing signs of dehydration, his parents thought they were doing the right thing by giving him a drink. And what did they choose? 

A soda, packed full of sweet, sugary glucose. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

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25. A Real Eye Opener

I used to work as an eye doctor. There was this one patient who had a really bad eye ulcer in his right eye. We did everything we could to help it heal—we used antibiotics, antiviral medicine, antifungal eye drops... you name it, we tried it. But the ulcer wouldn't get better. 

We questioned the patient about whether he'd been using any other remedies on his eye, such as anti-inflammatory drops or numbing eye drops. We clarified to him that he should never use these types of drops for his situation because they could make it all worse. 

He seemed to understand and promised he wouldn't dream of doing such a thing. As a last resort, we planned a corneal transplant. It was a gamble, but we didn't have any other choices. One day during a chat, he seemed puzzled about the eye drops and how often to take them. 

I asked him to show me every single eye drop he used, one by one, to clear up any confusion. To my shock, he pulled out a bottle of numbing eye drops from his purse. My stomach sank. I asked him how long he'd been using those drops, and he said he'd been using them since the start of the treatment to alleviate the pain. 

That meant he'd been using those drops for a whopping eight months, four times a day, every day. I asked him why he'd done that even after we specifically told him not to. He responded, "I thought you guys were blowing it out of proportion". Because of his overuse of the numbing drops, a simple eye ulcer turned into a serious one. 

His eye even developed a hole in the end and we had to do the corneal transplant. After the operation, he stopped coming to see us, so who knows what he's doing to his eye at this point.

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26. Sealed With A Tick

Once upon a time, I worked as a nurse. During one summer, I found a tick on my stomach, removed it, disinfected the area, and continued with my usual routine. Over the following weeks, I noticed a persistent red mark where the tick bite had occurred. Being out in the sun frequently, however, I didn't give it much thought.

After a month, I experienced daily bouts of severe neck stiffness and earaches. I shrugged it off, blaming it on sleeping in uncomfortable positions. Then came the day I completed a 10-mile race. I woke up feeling completely drained the next day, my body aching and feverish. 

Still, I convinced myself that this was the result of pushing my body to its limits the day before. But a day later, distinctive circular red rashes appeared on my joints. When I pointed this out to one of my fellow doctors at work, he surprised me by asking how long I had been living with Lyme disease.

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27.  Valentine’s Day Of Doom

I made a mistake. I'm well aware of how to spot worrisome symptoms, and if anyone else showed these signs, I'd be rushing them to the hospital myself. Unfortunately, I was too stubborn to apply this to my own case. On Valentine's Day, I was feeling terribly ill with fever, chills, fatigue, as well as nausea, which was bad enough to confine me to my house.

Being a medical professional, I rationalized my symptoms as the flu going around in our area. I brushed off a notable discomfort in my side as a strained muscle from my intense dance workouts. However, the pain only worsened, marking every step I took with a jolt. 

Even though I planned to have it examined, sleep was a priority. After barely waking up in time to hurl the contents of my stomach, I noticed the absence of a stuffy nose or a sore throat, common flu symptoms. It occurred to me that the pain seemed to be precisely over my left kidney, so I requested my husband to bring me home from work and take me to see a doctor.

Despite being a pragmatic paramedic with a dislike of unnecessary emergency room visits, I opted to go to an urgent care clinic instead. I half-expected a physician's assistant (PA) to merely agree with my self-diagnosis and send me home with a recommended medication regimen.

Instead, the PA quickly examined me and sternly advised that I head straight to the hospital. Reluctantly, I agreed if only to ease my husband's worry. I continued to believe that this was an unnecessary detour consuming precious hours of my life.

By the time we reached the hospital, I'd self-diagnosed a kidney infection and was already considering the emergency room an exaggeration. Following an initial evaluation and a blood test, I was rushed to a room to receive rehydration treatment.

Shortly after, I was discussing my symptoms with the physician when the lab assistant brought in my results. From her reaction, I deduced the tests weren't promising. In fact, they were concerning enough that I was going to be admitted overnight.

While I tried to wrap my head around the sudden turn of events, I was getting prepared for a stay—an extra IV, strong painkillers, and a hefty dose of antibiotics. I thought I'd be transferred to a regular ward, but to my surprise, a nurse was wheeling my bed towards the elevator.

Usually, they have more impressive tasks to accomplish so seeing one moving me between wards was unnerving. The next thing I knew, I was enclosed in a large room of an intensive care unit, with my nurse completely focused on me. Soon, I was wired to all sorts of monitors.

I attempted to rationalize my circumstance as overflow from general wards. Concluding the conversation with my nurse, I was dumbfounded to see my results shown to me. My white blood cell count was dangerously excessive, indicating severe health conditions including septic shock and renal failure.

As the reality of my condition dawned on me, I had to swallow my pride and accept that I desperately needed medical attention. Had I delayed visiting the hospital, it would've been too late. The torturous evening gave way to a morning filled with medical professionals explaining the severity of my situation and what went wrong. 

I foolishly thought that a few days on antibiotics would work miracles, but my struggles were far from over. Brimming with fluids to jumpstart my kidneys, my lungs responded by filling up with liquid. This resulted in a condition known as ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome), where oxygen absorption becomes nearly impossible.

To avoid ending up on a ventilator, I opted for a less dramatic solution of diuretics and a conscious effort to keep breathing. It was undeniably the worst experience but by the fifth day, I was well enough to be transferred to a general ward.

Coming off the extra oxygen was a slow process, but eventually, I was allowed to go home with the condition of extra nocturnal oxygen supplementation. The most terrifying part of the ordeal was the silent progression of the disease. 

It's believed that an unnoticed urinary tract infection (UTI) could've spread to my kidneys, but the reality remains elusive. I knew the signs to watch out for, yet was almost claimed by my health situation.

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28. What’s Bugging Them?

Countless individuals suffering from regular skin conditions like eczema or unidentified dermatitis, unfortunately, persuade themselves that they're infested with bugs, worms, or other critters under their skin. 

Emotionally distressed, they scratch their skin, douse themselves with bleach several times in a day, or even make cuts on their skin in an attempted excavation of these imagined parasites.

As a result, they only inflict more pain, itchiness, and discomfort on themselves. Some go to the extent of distancing themselves from loved ones, paranoid about spreading a nonexistent bug invasion. It’s truly heart-wrenching.

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29. Slipped Away Due To Snake Oil

I used to work as a nurse specializing in cancer care. One of my patients, who had a kind of cancer that's usually manageable, never mentioned a herbal remedy that his son had purchased for $300 a bottle. He was consuming this remedy concurrently with his chemotherapy sessions. This, unfortunately, led to serious complications.

His liver and kidneys failed, he ended up being admitted to the hospital for several weeks, and his treatment got delayed. As a result, the cancer growth ramped up. His physical health was too compromised to continue the treatment. Tragically, he passed, his life cut short thanks to this deceptive "cure".

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30. Wake Up, Stupid!

One time, a man was brought to our hospital after being found passed out. Surprise, surprise—he turned out to be diabetic and had lapsed into a coma. After we stabilized him, we sent him home equipped with insulin. A week or two passed, and he was back in our emergency room. His symptoms? 

Nausea, dehydration, and his eyes were playing tricks on him. Turns out, he stopped taking his insulin because he thought that "insulin is only for the really sick folks".

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31. It Was All Greek To Me

When I was studying nursing, I looked after a woman who required a dwell catheter due to heart failure causing fluid overloads. While I was giving a run-down of events to my co-nurse at the station, my patient approached us, chatting away in Greek.

I instantly noticed she had left her walking aid in her room and then realized she had also left her catheter behind. I assisted her back to her room and found the catheter hanging on her bedpost with its balloon still inflated.

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32. An Acute Case Of Stupid

I took care of a gentleman who was battling a severe form of acute leukemia. He underwent chemotherapy, which devastated his entire immune system and bone marrow. Despite his condition, he refused to quit his bad habits and he would frequently exit his room to descend to the ground floor to light up.

Being without an immune system means that even the tiniest infection can evolve into a life-threatening situation. And that's exactly what happened. He contracted serious sepsis and ended up requiring care in the ICU. But, there's more. He once left the ward while still hooked up to his chemo IV. 

The tube carrying the medication came out and the chemo drug seeped into his muscle instead of his vein.

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33. No Casting Any Doubt, We Were Stupid

Back in my college days, my new roomie began the year sporting a cast due to a summertime mishap. He had been wearing it for a week or two, and still had about six weeks remaining when the semester kicked off. As he got acquainted with a bunch of new faces during the initial weeks, he grew tired of constantly being dubbed as "cast boy". 

A few weeks further down the line, he also discovered college girls didn't find his large arm cast particularly attractive. These frustrations led to us, one fine night, getting a bit tipsy and deciding to saw off his cast, about five weeks into his six-week healing stint. 

Everything seemed hunky-dory until he visited the clinic a couple of days later for his final inspection. His doctor delivered a blow—he had bungled his recovery by chopping off his cast a week prematurely. So, my buddy returned to college the subsequent day, arm encased again in a fresh cast, sentenced to another full six weeks of being "cast boy".

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34. System Overload

A patient walked in with altered mental status, his blood pressure was pretty low—73/45. Turns out, he had taken his blood pressure at home, noticed it was high, and popped his blood pressure pills. The interesting part? He had never taken these pills before. They were prescribed back in 2016 and 2017 by different doctors who weren't aware of each other's prescriptions.

Once we brought his blood pressure back to normal and his coherence improved, he started to complain of a severe headache. I said to him, "Of course you have a headache. Your brain didn't get enough blood supply for quite some time. You should be thanking your lucky stars you don't have any brain damage!"

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35. What A Crackpot!

A sweet elderly lady visited me, clearly distressed because she was coughing up blood. She was vomiting sizable clumps of blood every few minutes and complaining about a sore throat. When I inquired about her pain management strategy, she candidly responded that she had recently taken some illicit substances. 

When I asked if this was habitual behavior for her, she promptly denied it, stating she usually drinks, but she hoped it might alleviate her discomfort. 

Dumb PatientsShutterstock

36.  Procrastination Almost Did Me In

For about five or six days, I pushed through the pain of appendicitis without seeing a doctor. I was unable to eat or sleep, experienced constant discomfort, and was throwing up several times each hour. Despite all these, I just assumed I was sick and would get better in a few days. However, during surgery, my appendix burst and my heart stopped.

If it wasn't for an unexpected opening in the surgical schedule, I wouldn't have been operated on. Considering that I was under the impression I would be okay, it's scary to think I could have passed in my hospital bed. After what was supposed to be a straightforward operation, I ended up having to stay at the hospital for a week.

Dumb PatientsPixabay

37. A No-Show Was Not The Way To Go

I once had a role at a cancer treatment center. Several years back, a lady had a mammogram, which showed a tiny (<1cm) accumulation of calcifications but no visible lump or irregularity. We asked her to return for a biopsy but she never did, nor did she have any subsequent mammograms. 

Fast-forward some years, she visited our clinic because she was concerned about her breasts being different sizes. Also, her right one was "much harder" than its counterpart. When we carried out an examination, it revealed a substantial 14 cm lump. Basically, all of the tissue had been overtaken by cancer. 

What was truly heartbreaking was our cancer specialist's belief that if she had gone ahead with the biopsy when advised to, they might have discovered a barely-there invasive tumor or perhaps only carcinoma in situ. Most likely, she would have required a lump removal surgery and radiation, possibly even avoiding the need for chemotherapy. 

Her survival odds would have been incredibly high and she would have probably lived close to her average life expectancy. Tragically, she passed about three months after her visit. The cancer had metastasized all over her body. She was only in her early 50s and sadly left two teenagers behind. 

Medical Mistake Horror StoriesShutterstock

38. Bleach Bungle

So here's a story from my time in the Navy. There was a girl in our troop who ended up with lime burns on her hands. She hadn't worn gloves or washed her hands after working with fresh concrete—total newbie error. She'd been treated just the week before and had even received training on how serious chemical burns can be.

But she turned up at the doctor's again, telling him her burns had drastically worsened. The doc takes one look at her hands and sees that they're basically raw all over, plus they're bleeding in places. He's asking her what went down, and she comes out with, "My aunt's a doctor and she told me to treat the burns by wrapping them in rags soaked in bleach".

The doc was completely lost for words. He couldn't make out if her aunt really was a doctor, or if the girl had simply come up with this bright idea on her own and was making excuses.

Dumb PatientsShutterstock

39. Duped For A Doobie

Before I started medical school, my job was assisting in an emergency department's healthcare. I remember spending a day in the resuscitation room, where we looked after our most critical patients. One lady had been with us for hours, critically ill, but she was desperate for a smoke.

She was so insistent about it, threatening to remove her IV lines and walk out, that we made a calculated decision to lessen the risk: I would accompany her outside in a wheelchair. So, that's what I did. I situated her wheelchair right outside the main entrance of the emergency department, keeping us close enough to hustle back in if the need arose. 

She quickly took out the largest joint I had ever seen and sparked it up. I was mortified! We sat surrounded by other patients and visitors. Despite my attempts to persuade her to stop, she got all the way through it, right down to the last drag. Upon our return inside, to my surprise, the department was flooded with officers. 

I had no choice but to push her past them all, even though we both reeked. I couldn't wait for my shift to end that day.

Dumb PatientsShutterstock

40. Here We Toe Again

Back when I was a fairly green nurse, I looked after a patient with diabetes who was about to lose another toe. The patient was aware that they had injured their toe and understood the potential infection risk, yet they didn't have the financial means to visit the doctor for treatment. Eventually, they ended up in the hospital, where they had their toe removed.

The patient said something to me I'll never forget, "Each visit here costs me a part of myself".

Dumb PatientsPixabay

41. Time To See The Light

In my career as both an optician and an optometrist, I came across NUMEROUS partially sighted individuals who turned down the idea of glasses. They didn't want to "ruin" their vision. They'd return half a year later, grappling with headaches, struggling with night driving or reading difficulties. 

They'd vent their frustration, upset that their vision hadn't improved, despite their claims of constantly "exercising" their eyes. Unfortunately, that's not how it works.

Blown Away Stupid FactsPiqsels

42. One Last Puff

My grandma was in the hospital for heart surgery, sharing a room with a guy who was waiting for a lung transplant. The guy was out on the balcony having "just one last smoke" when he was supposed to have quit months before. The transplant surgeon came in and saw the guy puffing away.

He didn’t speak to him but left, took him off the transplant list, and booted him out of the hospital.

Dumb PatientsPixabay

43. Herbal Hideaway

An elderly gentleman had been admitted for rehabilitation following a type of bone surgery. He was on Warfarin to prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT). However, his INR levels—which indicate clotting speed—kept fluctuating, even with dosage changes and no one could pinpoint the reason. 

When I entered his room for a routine check, I noticed a big bottle of pills on his table. The bottle contained an herbal supplement including substances like garlic, ginger, and ginseng. These ingredients have a tendency to enhance the effectiveness of Warfarin. 

Once his wife managed to take these supplements back home and he got a stern talk about consulting his doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicines, his lab results went back to normal.

Dumb PatientsShutterstock

44. No Bones About It

My mom's a nurse and she shared a story about a peculiar patient she once had. They suspected this patient had bone cancer because her calcium levels were sky-high and it was starting to wreak havoc on her heart. That's actually how she wound up under my mom's care. 

Despite their best efforts, the medical team couldn't regulate her calcium levels nor pinpoint the location of the alleged cancer after several days. One day, a friend came to see this patient and my mom entered the room to discover them munching on tiny chocolates the friend had smuggled in. 

They were actually calcium-laden chocolate chews. As it turns out, the patient had been devouring nearly a bag of these candies daily. Thankfully, she wasn't suffering from cancer and her heart was undamaged. However, she did have a lengthy and firm conversation about the importance of reviewing product labels and being completely transparent with her doctor about her daily habits.

Dumb PatientsShutterstock

45. He Came Out Swinging

I used to work as an operating room nurse. One evening, I came in for my night shift and peered through the surgery room window to see what procedure was underway. Through the glass, I saw a surgeon and a scrub nurse operating on some fingers on a specialty hand table. More patients were due in the operating theater in about 45 minutes.

The case at hand was a typical circular saw accident. An older gentleman, while involved in some DIY tasks at home, had momentarily lost focus. When the evening scrub nurse handed over to me, we proceeded to work for roughly two hours, trying our best to save and reattach this man's fingers.

Afterwards, we spent about three more hours cleaning up the ruined areas and fixing what we could, upon concluding that the fingers were excessively damaged. By 4 AM, we had finished. His hand, now resembling a boxer's glove due to the heavy bandages, lay on the bed while the anesthetist was waking him up.

Patients wake up from anesthesia in a variety of ways—some feel sick, others wake up peacefully, and some even wake up crying. This man, however, woke up swinging—flailing around, shouting, and attempting to get out of bed. 

It's worth noting that when one wakes up from anesthesia, their body may be awake, but their brain takes a while to catch up, hence, asking him to lie down was fruitless. One sight I'll never forget was watching this half-awake man, perched on all fours on his bed, with a significant part of his hefty weight bearing down on his newly reconstructed knuckles. 

Dumb PatientsPixabay

46. He Was Dumb, Warts, And All

Once upon a time, while serving as a medical staff in the Navy, I was deployed in Japan, attached to a Marine artillery battalion. One peaceful weekend, around three in the morning, my sleep was abruptly disrupted by a mighty hammering on my barracks door. It was not unusual for my assigned Marines to seek me out if they needed some medical attention during time off.

Though somewhat annoyed at my sleep being interrupted, I opened the door, to be greeted by a surprising sight; standing there was one of my Marines looking quite worse for wear. His eyes were glazed and terribly bloodshot, and he was hopelessly tipsy. What's more?

He didn't have a stitch of clothing on except for the red towel he was using to cover his downstairs. Urgently, he pleaded, "Doc! I need your help, I'm scared and it won't stop". After a quick examination, I identified the issue promptly. The towel—initially white, had turned red, thoroughly soaked in blood. 

It turned out that this young man had been silently dealing with genital warts for a while. Fearing reprimands and embarrassment, he'd kept this a secret. Predictably, over time, his situation deteriorated, and the warts expanded over large parts of his groin, clustering in the typical manner of this condition. 

Warts can bleed quite heavily due to their vascular nature. Emboldened by some over-indulgence in alcohol, the young Marine took matters into his own hands by attempting a DIY treatment. He perched himself on the edge of his bathtub and started personally operating on his warts using nothing but a pair of nail clippers.

Blood was trickling down the side of the tub. By the time he mustered the courage to seek help, the situation was critical. Wrapping him up in a blanket, I swiftly escorted him to our battalion aid station (BAS) in his current state.

Dumb PatientsShutterstock

47.  Playing Doctor Is Dumb

Once upon a time, I was an emergency room resident. One time, I had a patient who sought help due to pain in his, urm, private part. He described the discomfort to have lasted for two days already. He was worried that he couldn't feel the tip of it.

Upon my examination, the top layer of skin was retracted, resulting in an intense swelling, which made it impossible to cover the end part. Intrigued, I asked him if there was any incident that could trigger these symptoms.

He revealed that he noticed a slight discharge a few days back and thought of giving it a thorough clean. What raised eyebrows was his choice of cleaning agent—he utilized his car dashboard cleaner to scrub the tip of his sensitive part. His assumption was that the cleaner shared properties similar to antiseptics.

Obviously, this action led to a stinging sensation and resulted in a swollen situation, one might compare to a balloon's nature. To his credit, he endured it for two days. He assured that he was still able to urinate, thus he didn't see it as alarming. Until one morning, in his attempt to reduce the skin, he failed. 

In order to deviate from further swelling, he decided to apply hand sanitizer. Apparently, his wife caught sight of it and rushed him immediately to the ER. 

Dumb PatientsShutterstock

48. Aspiration Situation

I completed my practical training at a Long-Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH), essentially a nursing facility equipped to handle medical procedures like tracheostomy, catheterization, and ventilator support. There was this one patient who, for his health's sake, was prohibited from eating food orally. 

This was to prevent him from choking or aspirating. But he wasn't easily deterred. Although he received nourishment through a feeding tube, he always managed to stash away treats like candy bars, chips, and other items that didn't spoil quickly, in his drawer.

It became a daily routine—he would sneakily eat something from his hidden reserves, and like clockwork, someone would have to rush to his aid because he'd choke. On my last shift, he had surreptitiously consumed Dr Pepper, which led to a severe choking episode. This was so serious that we had to rush him to the hospital. 

The last update on his health indicated that due to severe aspiration pneumonia, he had to undergo a tracheostomy because he couldn't be taken off the ventilator.

Medical Horror StoriesShutterstock

49. Donor Dilemma

When my grandpa was in his 80s, he needed a knee replacement, even though his overall health was excellent. However, during surgery, there was a problem. His body didn't have enough blood to pump around, requiring multiple transfusions. The doctors couldn't understand why this happened.

Surprisingly, just before the surgery, he and my grandma had actually gone to donate blood.

Dumb PatientsPixabay

50. No More Wire Hangers!

There was once a patient I treated who had an annoyingly itchy throat. All his coughing and clearing his throat didn't help, so he started to attempt scratching it with his finger. However, when he couldn't quite reach the itchy spot, he thought of using a tool. He felt a wire coat hanger with a hook would do the trick. 

This seemed to work, as he could finally reach the itch, until the hook unexpectedly caught on something. His reaction? Simply to pull harder. This ended up tearing a hole right through his hypopharynx, the area located at the back of his throat just opposite his tongue's base. 

The result was gas getting into all the soft tissues in his neck, face, and chest areas. If you touched his skin, you could even feel the strange sensation of the gas moving around underneath. The memory still gives me shivers.

Scariest experienceShutterstock

Sources: Reddit


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