February 26, 2024 | Melissa Gervais

The Dumbest Patients Imaginable


From self-inflicted injuries to dangerous prescription misuses, these true stories reveal the most facepalm-worthy patients doctors have ever encountered.


1. There Is No Plan C

I’m a pharmacist. One evening, I was working a relief shift (not at my usual pharmacy). A man comes in looking distressed. He tells me, “I had intimate relations with a woman I do not intend to pursue a long-term relationship with”. Yes, he said it just like that.

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I say, “Okay. I’m assuming there was an accident, or it was unprotected. How long ago did it happen'? He answers, “Last night, at 7 PM on the couch”. Woah, TMI. I just needed to know the approximate time so I’d know if Plan B would work. 

I start to tell him, “We have this medication called Plan B, and since the incident happened within 72 hours—” but he interrupts me and I was thrown completely off guard: “Oh yes, I got that for her already yesterday, right after we finished.

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We want to know if there is anything we can do to know if she is pregnant now”.

I answer, “Unfortunately not. She’ll have to wait three weeks or so to see if she gets her period, and if she doesn’t, she can do a pregnancy test then. Theoretically, you could do a blood test for faster results, but that would also not be until a couple of weeks, at least”. 

He responds, “We’re just really anxious because she doesn’t want to be pregnant. Is there anything that she can take to prevent the pregnancy?

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Any multivitamin? Minerals? Food"? I tell him, “She’s already taken it, which was the Plan B. There are some other options, but those are prescriptions. And no, there are no over-the-counter products she can take”. 

Then he asks, “What about me? Is there anything I can take now to prevent the pregnancy?

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Any multivitamins or minerals"? A little bemused, I just answer, “…No sir. There isn’t anything you can take now”.

Pharmacist is consulting customer in drugstoreArtPhoto_studio, Freepik

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2. Get A Load Of This Guy

I’m 73, and I’m a former clinical microbiologist from LONG ago—and I have a crazy story to tell. So, one day, this 20-something guy (with his wife and mom in tow) walks in with a paper request for an analysis of his “swimmers," pre-computer era. Okay, not the most comfortable encounter, but I’m a professional, and I’d done this drill many times.

It turned out he had not been briefed by the doctor and had no idea how establishing infertility in males was done.

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Well, okay—this would be a challenge, then. I took him aside and, using standard medical terminology, told him how a diagnosis is made and what he needed to do to provide a specimen. 

He couldn’t believe that I was asking him to “do it” into that container.  Astonished!

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Then he played dumb as if the concept was unfamiliar to him. We looped through the medical terms and procedure again, and I eventually resorted to every word I knew to describe the “act”. It was like a George Carlin bit! 

A half-hour later, he emerged from the toilet with two inches of urine in the cup.

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God almighty.

The report came back: “Patient provided improper specimen”.

Awkward Doctors VisitsShutterstock

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3. This Is How The Elderly Get Their Wrinkles

I’m a paramedic. I had an elderly woman complain that her mouth was dry and she felt a bit dizzy climbing the stairs earlier. So I go through the whole rigamarole of getting a medical history, vitals, and more detail on her symptoms.

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Then I asked her what she’s had to drink today. Her answer truly frustrated me.

 A cup of tea—ten hours ago. I asked, “Any water”? She says no. Guess what fixed it within five minutes.

Woman is talking with a doctorfreepik , Freepik

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4. The Mother Got A Lot Of Heat For This

I was at the children’s hospital with my eldest when he was a toddler (ah, the day we found out he was allergic to penicillin) when a rushing team suddenly occupied the bed next to me with a limp, unresponsive infant. This happened on a hot day during the mid-summer.

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The baby was in a full Canadian winter-level snowsuit.

After they got the baby’s temperature down, I overheard the doctor losing his mind a little bit with the mother. Her explanation was chilling. She kept insisting she had to have her baby in the suit lest the baby risk feeling chilly.

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The doctor explained that the minor discomfort of having to cry for a blanket did not trump the risk of it losing its life or the possibility of literally frying the kid’s brain. He had to get quite nasty with his wording in that she had almost unalived her baby and might have given it brain damage.

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Baby in hospital bed is getting a check up by doctorCDC , Pexels

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5. Mr. Hot Shot

I had a buddy who was an EMT, and he was called out to a location for a GSW. What happened was a father was mowing his lawn when he accidentally touched a part of the mower near the engine and burned his hand. He got mad at the lawnmower, pulled out his pistol, and shot it.

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The shot ricocheted and hit his son in the leg.

Elder man driving a lawn mower vehicle in his yardhermaion , Pexels

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6. Now, He’s Gonorrhea-Valuate All His Conditions…

I worked in ED for 10 years. Every day. Every day people come in, and it shocks you how they’ve managed to live this long. One of the worst was when we had a guy come in.

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He was a twin. He told us he needed to get checked for STDs because his sister just got one. 

We, of course, had to ask if he’d had intimate relations with her, and he said no. We were confused, but his reasoning made our jaws DROP. He explained that they were twins, so whatever she has, so does he.

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After a collective sigh of relief that this wasn’t some weird Alabama, your-my-sister scenario, we had to educate him on how that’s not how it worked at all.

Man is talking with female doctor in her officecottonbro studio, Pexels

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7. It Was An Arm of Intervention

I got told to go introduce myself to a patient to get vitals, history, and more info on their chief complaint, before starting an IV and drawing blood for labs.

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She came in for arm pain, and it looked like she had a nasty bug bite on her arm. 

So her story was she was an exotic dancer, and her Adderall prescription wasn’t doing the trick. So, she had an idea of how to make it more potent.

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She heard from a friend that if you crush it up, suspend it in water, and then inject it, it would be more effective. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Unfortunately, she used tap water to dissolve the Adderall before she injected it. This ended up causing a huge abscess and infection at the site of injection.

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She ended up losing her arm at the elbow...So now she’s a one-armed exotic dancer.

Woman is laying at hospital bed looking sadRDNE Stock project , Pexels

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8. Five Years Too Long

I'm an optician. One day a 20-something year old patient comes into my office complaining that her eyes itched and burned for the last two weeks and were now starting to hurt.

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I pulled her folder and saw she was a contact lens patient of ours…from a little over five years ago. So I asked if she was wearing her contacts. She told me yes.

I put her in the exam chair and looked at her eyes under biomicroscopy.

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The contact lenses in her eye looked dry, brittle and had visible specs of dust, debris, and other deposits all over them. So I asked her when the last time she cleaned her contacts was. 

She stumbled over her words while telling me she cleaned them before she came.

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Which is already a red flag because who cleans them in the middle of the day? So I asked her to remove them. When I touched them, I almost gasped. They were so dry and brittle in my hand I could break them like pieces of thin plastic.

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When I inverted her eye lids to check for infection, she had small pimples and cysts all under them called GPC.

I asked her if she slept in her contacts. She obviously lied and said no. So I asked what brand she wears now, and she told me she hasn't changed the brand since she was last here.

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But the brand we gave her was Acuvue 2, which had been discontinued three years prior and were no longer available.

This led me to ask…if she was still wearing contacts from the boxes we gave her five years ago. Mind you, we only have her a few months supply worth as a courtesy, since she said she would buy them cheaper online than what we sold them for.

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Not surprisingly, she said yes.

These lenses were not meant to be slept in,and certainly not meant to be reused for longer than two weeks, and certainly not reworn for five years! And expiration dates on these boxes also matter, folks. The consequences were severe.

She ended up needing surgery from an ophthalmologist to repair damage to her conjunctiva and eye lids, a blephex treatment for her lid margins, and will probably never be able to wear contacts ever again.

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Listen to your opticians, people. We are licensed practitioners for a reason.

Surgeons Mistakes FactsMax Pixel

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9. She Just Couldn’t Seem To Grasp The Conception

I had an 18 or 19-year-old girl come into my ER with some complaint that required an X-ray. It’s standard that we do a pregnancy test before imaging on any female of childbearing years. She insisted she’d never “done it," and there was zero possibility of pregnancy. We did the test anyway, and it resulted that she was pregnant.

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We then did a blood pregnancy test to confirm the result since she insisted she couldn’t possibly be pregnant because she’d never slept with anyone. That was positive too. We gave her a few minutes to herself to figure out what the heck happened.

When I returned to check on her a short time later, she asked me if she could get pregnant even though her boyfriend “didn’t go all the way in”. She 100% believed that as long as he wasn’t entirely inside her, it didn’t count. It took nearly a half hour of explaining reproduction for her to understand that, whether it’s halfway in or in, those swimmers travel.

Young girl is talking with hospital personal in hallwayfreepik , Freepik

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10. When Your In Need Of Some Whizdom

I had an adult male patient who needed a Foley catheter.

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His mother was in the room, and they both lived together in the backwoods of Tenessee. I informed them both of the order for a catheter, how it worked, and why it was needed. His mother stated, “Well, he’s never slept with anyone, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with his purity being taken in a hospital”.

Male patient is laying in hospital bed with doctors by his sideDCStudio , Freepik

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11. The Parents Were The Real Suckers

While working the midnight shift in the ER, a family brought in a four-year-old at 2am-ish.

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I asked them what was wrong. They said, “Ask him. He said he needed to see a doctor”. I further pressed, “Did he say anything was wrong"? They answered, “No. He said he needed to see a doctor, so we brought him”. 

A quick back-and-forth firmly established that they actually showed up to the ER at 2 AM, purely because the four-year-old said he needed to see a doctor and that they didn’t know why. So I asked the child, “Why do you need to see a doctor"? His answer made me shake my head in disbelief:

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“The doctor has suckers”. 

To be clear, it was the parents who lacked sense and not the kid.

Little boy with mum talking with the male doctorGround Picture , Shutterstock

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12. A Very Delicate Condition

I’m a social worker, and one of my clients kept getting pregnant over and over after having kids. The reason why was acually pretty heartbreaking. 

I had a frank conversation with her about birth control or getting her tubes tied because she kept going through horrific births only to get her kids taken away, and she said to me that she didn’t know that birth control would save her from getting pregnant.

She didn’t realize how her own reproductive system worked because she was mistreated as a child, and her father told her that she could only get pregnant when she fell in love, and she had never been in love, so she didn’t understand why she kept getting pregnant. 

Intimacy was only a pleasure for her, so she didn’t realize that was what was getting her pregnant.

Young pregnant woman is having a consultation with a doctorMART PRODUCTION, Pexels

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13. The Answer Was At Hand

I am a dermatologist in India.

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As is the culture here, people eat with their hands, and almost all of our curries or even other dry side dishes have a lot of turmeric. 

It is common knowledge to anyone born and brought up in India that this means the nails of your dominant hand (statistically, the right hand) will be yellow-stained because we have seen this happen since our childhood.

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Usually, this wears off in about a day and a half if you wash it a couple of times. 

Cut to the first patient in my OPD, a young girl in her early 20s, very anxious. I ask her, “What brings you here today"? The patient says, “Doc, my right-hand fingernails keep getting yellow-discolored”. I take a look and confirm, “Only your right hand"? She answers, “Yes, and only after meals”.

So I ask her, “Erm…do you eat with your hands"? The patient confirms, “Yes, always”. I then explain to her, “So...you know it’s just turmeric, right"? And she goes, “Yes, but can you make it stop happening"? Perplexed now, I just tell her, “For God’s sake, use a spoon"! But she’s still not quite getting it. Her next question was bizarre.

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Surprised, she asks, “So you mean there is no medicine to make it stop"? I just stared at her while she looked at me expectantly. “NO"! This might hit home more with people of South Asian cultures or people who habitually eat turmeric-cooked food with their hands.

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Anyway, for a grown person to complain about this was just…well, surprising and a little ridiculous.

Female doctor is talking with a patient and smilingKampus Production , Pexels

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14. This Guy Wasn’t Very Treat Smart

I work in emergency medical services. I had a diabetic in his 30–40s who refused to take insulin since 2012. It was 2020 at the time. I have to admit, he wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed.

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When I took his blood sugar, it only read as “HI," meaning it had to be over 700 for the glucometer not to read it. 

Upon seeing this, he asked me if that was high and then went, “Is this because of all the ice cream I ate"? He was playing a Facebook Messenger video with his girlfriend the entire time.

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I met him later on in the parking lot after he got discharged, and it took this man less than fifty paces from the ER door to rip off the bandage covering his IV and play with the IV wound until it started bleeding all over the place again.

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He then knocked on our ambulance door and asked for a bandaid to fix it. We had to walk him back into the ER and bandage his entire arm with gauze so that, hopefully, by the time he got it off, it would’ve clotted enough for him not to end up exsanguinating himself.

Young man is talking with a doctor in hospital hallwaysanivpetro, Freepik

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15. Details Make A Difference

This was one of the funniest yet cutest ones from when I was a student doing a shift in andrology/reproductive health.

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Doctor: “So, you’re trying to have kids but not managing to. Do you have any other kids"? 

Patient: “Yes, Doc. I have one”. 

Doctor: “Okay, so we need to do [this and this and that]”. 

Patient: “Okay, great”.

Then he proceeded to visit him and stuff, after which he went away.

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But after a couple of seconds, he knocked on the door again, saying: “Hello, Doc. My wife told me that it would be relevant to you that the son I have is adopted, but that makes no difference to me. I’ve always considered him my son"!

Male patient is talking with male doctor in his officefreepik, Freepik

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16. Do No Farm

I’m a physiotherapist. For those who don’t know, after a total knee replacement, you have a six-week window after the surgery to regain the range of motion. If you don’t regain the range in those first six weeks, it ain’t coming back. 

I had a patient who was a farmer who was very enthusiastic about regaining the range because he needed to be mobile for his work.

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I saw him for the first time about five days after his surgery. 

I showed him all the basic exercises, told him not to do any farm work for at least six weeks, and told him to come back to see me once a week for the first six weeks.

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Did he listen to me? Not at all.

He disappeared and came back about eight weeks later. His range was non-existent, maybe 30 degrees of range in total. He was visibly mad at me as if it was my fault. He was shouting and calling me incompetent.

Our conversation went something like this:

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Me: “Have you been doing the exercises"?

Him: “No”. 

Me: “How often are you doing farm work"?

Him: “Every day”. 

Me: “Why haven’t you come back since the first appointment eight weeks ago"? 

Him: “Too busy with farm work”. 

Me: “So, to summarize here, you did absolutely nothing that I told you to, and this is somehow my fault"?

I never saw him again.

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Male doctor and displeased male patient arguing at clinicGround Picture , Shutterstock

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17. A Jaw-Dropping Encounter

As a pharmacist, I often encounter a lot of people who lack common sense; namely, everyone who comes in to buy homeopathic stuff, especially for serious things. Once, a lady came in with a prescription from the dentist for some heavy antibiotics and painkillers due to an infection that threatened to damage the jawbone.

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When I asked if she knew how to take them, her response made me shake my head: “Oh, I’m not gonna take those; they’ll go right into the garbage. But I gotta buy them so that my dentist is happy. I’d rather stick with [insert name of homeopathic stuff here] instead of harming me with some devilish chemicals"!

Throughout the years, I’ve learned to just shrug and accept those Darwin-award candidates instead of arguing with them. It just infuriates me when I see that they’ve got children or/and pets…

Woman is taking medication from a pharmacistfreepik, Freepik

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18. Fortunately, They Caught Him Red-Handed

I don’t know if a cleaner in a hospital counts, but this one time, I got to work early on a Saturday morning, and we immediately received a request for help from the ER and got sent over by my boss. When I got there, the first thing I heard was yelling from this guy behind one of the curtains.

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He was shouting at the nurses, “Don’t touch my downstairs," and “I didn’t use any substances"! Then I smelled iron in the air, and then I found out there was blood all over the hallway, with hand prints in blood against the wall. Almost the entire floor was covered in blood, with actual puddles in some places.

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When I found out what happend, I facepalmed.

The guy pulled out his catheter, causing arterial bleeding, and he decided to run away from the nurses who were trying to help him. It seems like he lived through that. I had never seen that much blood before that day, nor after.

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Doctor is looking at chart and walking in hospital hallwayRDNE Stock project , Pexels

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19. Thinking Against The Grain

I am a medical professional, but I have two really good ones about my ex-fiancé. Laugh at me all you want; this relationship was not my proudest moment. For starters, at our baby shower for my son, he asked if we were going to pick “innie” or “outie”. 

I looked at him like he was insane, and he started getting angry and just repeated the question louder until I shushed him and took him aside to explain to him that we don’t choose how the belly button looks; it just happens. Unfortunately, his idiocy didn't end there.

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Another time, he had really bad eczema and went to a doctor who suggested oatmeal baths during flare-ups. He bought a couple of boxes of Quaker Oats Maple & Brown Sugar and would dump the entire box packet by packet into the tub. It was a couple of weeks before I found the wrappers and questioned him about it.

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He told me (angry again) that he wondered why he was so sticky after getting out and why the freaking literal brown sugar was making his open wounds fester. I explained that an oatmeal bath is not flavored oatmeal and that he had to buy either plain oats or actual oatmeal bath packets.

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He was furious that I expected him to just know better.

When I asked him why he picked maple and brown sugar, he said he didn’t want to smell like strawberries or peaches after his bath. After our son was born (and we had broken up, thank God), my son also had some occasional eczema, but not nearly to the same degree.

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The pediatrician recommended oatmeal baths, and GUESS WHAT THIS FREAKING GUY BOUGHT? He said he only remembered what happened the last time when he picked my son out of the sink, and the towel stuck to him. 

When I started to scold him for being so stupid, he looked at me like was an idiot and told me he only used one packet since we were still bathing the kid in the sink instead of in an entire tub.

Woman is arguing with man and small baby standing between them on kitchen flooruser18526052 , Freepik

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20. The Patient Had A Med-ley Bag

I’m a pharmacist and boy, do I have stories to tell. I had a woman bring in a literal sandwich bag that she kept all her meds in, unseparated.

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She needed help seeing which meds she was low on or out of and was asking different questions about the medications. 

When she pointed to an Apoquel and stated it was her blood pressure medicine, I immediately became concerned as to why pet medicine was in her bag (and also why she was mixing all her meds in a bag in the first place).

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Then I discovered the awful truth.

It was then that I found out that she had been throwing her pet’s meds inside her bag of medicine, too. So Lord knows what she’d been giving her dog or taking herself. I immediately stressed how important it is to keep medicine in its original container to protect both the medicine and herself and to know the directions of how to take it.

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I’ve seen her a few times since then, and I’m glad to see she has since taken my advice. But how any pharmacist or doctor hadn’t advised her on this before is beyond me.

Woman with plastic bag with pills after buying from drugstorezinkevych , Freepik

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21. They Didn’t Air On The Side Of Caution

I used to be a medical oxygen tech, mostly doing in-home work.

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One guy was on such a high concentration that he would have drawn nearly zero oxygen from breathing regular atmosphere. This required two heavy-duty machines hooked up in tandem just to keep him barely alive. 

This was explained ad nauseam to him and his wife with fully signed documentation of every conversation.

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What they did was absolutely ridiculous—they’d shut one machine off because they decided it was too loud. He’d take his mask off because he decided it was too cold. 

She would unplug the hose if she decided it was in the way. So on and so on.

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They did everything you could think of that would restrict or cut off his oxygen intake. Then they would panic and call our emergency service when he started to react to no oxygen intake.

I lived not even five minutes away, right beside our EMS station, and calls would always come for me to “fix” the machines at random times of the day and night, 3–7 days a week. They refused to call 9-1-1 because they “didn’t want to make a scene”. 

This went on for ages, well over 18 months, until he was having trouble sleeping one night, and they shut the machines off before going back to bed.

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The consequences were fatal. It’s been years, and I still see the wife around town. She always glares at me as if I’m the one who unalived him.

Man laying on the bed at home and wearing medical oxygen maskartursafronovvvv , Freepik

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22. That’s Ill-Advised

I used to volunteer at a free medical clinic to take vitals and histories. A woman came in with pneumonia and wanted to know why her normal treatment of drinking half a bottle of Listerine and inhaling a pack of cancer sticks a day wasn’t working. 

I asked why she thought ciggies were a good treatment for a lung infection, and she came back with the dumbest explanation imaginable, “Indians used to purify the ground by burning all the weeds away before planting, so I’m puffing to purify my lungs”.

I left that one to the doctor.

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Young nurse wearing blue hospital clothes is seating worriedCedric Fauntleroy, Pexels

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23. Seeing Red

I’m an optometrist. I had a patient booked in for an emergency appointment with a raging red eye. It was very painful. So I looked under the microscope, and the cornea was not happy: wobbly reflexes, haziness, the works. So I asked, “What happened"? 

The patient said, “It’s my niece’s wedding this Saturday, and I wanted to tint my eyelashes to match my hair, and the color scheme of the wedding is light blue, so I used the same dye for both to match the color”.

I inquired, “Does that hair dye contain ammonia, by any chance"? The patient answered, “I think so. Do you think my eye will be better by Saturday?

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Will it match the color scheme"? For once in my life, I had the perfect comeback: “Unless you can convince them to change the color scheme to red, no”.

Woman is checking her eyes at optometristKsenia Chernaya , Pexels

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24. This Grave Mistake Takes The Biscuit

I heard this story from a sibling; I don’t think he’d mind me sharing it just on the off chance it prevents someone else from making this mistake. Lots of surgeons have a similar story, but thankfully this one doesn’t end in someone’s demise. 

According to my brother, these parents claimed that their child hadn’t eaten anything before surgery, as they were carefully directed. But it turned out they thought the surgical team was just being cruel to their child.

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So when she said she was hungry that morning, they detoured on their way to the surgical center and got her a full Southern breakfast. The result was triggering—she dang near passed from aspirating biscuits and gravy. 

I’ve rarely seen my brother so angry and disgusted (somehow, biscuits and gravy look even more nauseating the second time around) as he recounted what had happened.

I do not doubt that he tore a strip off the parents once their five-year-old was stabilized, and they probably still felt justified and angry at the surgeon for telling them what they could and could not feed their child right before anesthesia.

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The parents did feel justified and hard-done-by, although, as far as I know, they didn’t express anger at my brother (knowing him, they didn’t get a word in edgewise). But that wasn't all.

There was no acknowledgment or realization that they could easily have unlived their own child or that they’d made a bad decision. I remember they were annoyed by her whining for food.

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Little girl is seating in hospital bed with her parents and female doctorDCStudio , Freepik

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25. The Outcome Suited Them Just Fine

I’m a pharmacist. One time my coworker, another pharmacist, got served with a lawsuit while I was there. The patient suffered a fall resulting in a concussion, and she claimed it was because her Lisinopril (blood pressure medication) got increased from 10mg to 20mg and that she’d not been informed and passed out as a result. 

She was suing the pharmacist, the pharmacy, her doctor’s office, and the doctor. It eventually came out in early discovery that she was at a rave and had a BAC of 0.

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18, THC, and MDMA in her system. The case against the doctor’s office, doctor, and pharmacy fell apart right away, so she decided to go all-in on trying to sue the individual pharmacist. 

The pharmacy’s POS system confirmed that she checked, “I decline pharmacist consultation at this time”. So the case was eventually dropped.

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Judge is working on his laptop at courtroomSora Shimazaki, Pexels

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26. He Had To Take A Pregnant Pause

I work in the ER. I have so many stories. The one that left me dumbfounded was a woman who was brought in by her sister for pelvic cramps and amenorrhea for three months. Lo and behold, she’s pregnant. The sister informs me that she sleeps with the Brazilian construction workers building the condo complex next door.

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I ask if they have any questions.

The patient then asked me a question that left my speechless. She asked if her baby would come out speaking Spanish. After a long pause and her sister staring at the ceiling, I told her, “No, because they speak Portuguese in Brazil”. The patient seemed relieved, and the sister hustled her out of the ER before I could discharge her.

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Young pregnant woman and smiling with doctorvaluavitaly , Freepik

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27. It Cost Them An Amen And A Leg

I worked in cancer research/surgery a couple of years ago. There is a good amount of people who will refuse to have a small removal/surgery because they think holistic medicine or praying it away will work. They always come back, and we always have to remove so much more.

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One time, a patient had melanoma on their calf, and the doctor wanted to do a simple wide excision, but they left because they wanted to pray it away. BIG MISTAKE. They came back a couple of months later because it got bigger, and we had to amputate their leg.

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I’m pretty sure they had positive lymph nodes at that point too.

Doctor is talking with female patientKlaus Nielsen, Pexels

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28. They Gave Her A Herbal Warning

A lady brought her baby into the ER with a shocking temperature of 103. The kid had tachycardia (a fast heartbeat) and looked awful. The worst part? The lady refused all medications. She said she didn’t believe in them and wondered why her herbal tea (she brought a jug of it) wasn’t working. 

She wanted us to just check her out.

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She thought a children’s emergency room just checked them out. I tried to explain why the kid needed an NSIAD. She kept refusing. She said she didn’t know what was in it. I brought up the fact she had her kid in a hospital and that she received medication herself (IV, epidural, etc).

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The lady didn’t budge. Only concerned for herself, I told her that when the kid has a seizure or goes unresponsive and she calls 9-1-1, she can expect the medics to give the kid everything it needs regardless of whether she likes it or not.

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Desperate times called for desperate measures, so the doctor threatened to contact social services for child endangerment and mistreatment. Only then did she start to listen…for, like, five whole seconds. She then left against medical advice. People like this exist.

Young male doctor is examining the crying baby on hospital bedAndrey_Popov, Shutterstock

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29. Words Cannot Expresso How Ridiculous This Call Was

I’ve been a firefighter for 18 years. People call 9-1-1 for the dumbest things ever.

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But the one that takes the cake? It was a guy who called 9-1-1 to say he was choking. He answered the door as high as a Georgia pine with a lit joint in his mouth. I asked him who was choking. He calmly said that he was.

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Right then, I knew this was going to be a memorable case.

He said he swallowed an ice cube, and now he couldn’t breathe. Just to be sure and partly out of morbid curiosity, I looked in his mouth and then asked him to take a few deep breaths.

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..which he was able to do easily. He still insisted he couldn’t breathe. So I told him to make some hot coffee and then drink it. 

He asked me, “Why"? I told him that the coffee would melt the ice cube, and he’d be able to breathe again. “Oh, cool.

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Thanks, man”. 

Then I left.

Man wearing brown sweater is talking with paramedics at homePavel Danilyuk , Pexels

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30. How Heartbreaking

I work in clinical research at a hospital. Basically, for patients who have cancer but don’t have other standard-of-care options, clinical trials, or “experimental treatment," are a viable option for many. Some people have a negative view of research, but it’s highly regulated and not as scary as it sounds. 

Anyway, we went through the consent form with this one patient who had a history of substance use.

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We don’t know everything about this new medication, but one thing we DO know is that using other dangerous substances while taking this drug will make your heart “explode," in layman’s terms. 

This patient “promised” they were off the sauce and that they “totally wouldn’t do anything while they’re on the trial”. Famous last words.

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Two weeks later, they relapsed, and well…You can figure out the rest of the story.

Prescription bottle with pills on the tableKevin Bidwell, Pexels

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31. Wrestling With Logic

My brother did a rotation in an ER before med school. Paramedics brought in a man with a lacerated neck. He was inebriated and fell into a fish tank. His equally inebriated buddies called 9-1-1.

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When the paramedics arrived, they realized his friends had put a very tight tourniquet around his neck to stop the bleeding. 

It turned out that the guy and his buddies had been playing a tipsy game of WWE. He had a two-inch glass shard stuck in his head in addition to the neck laceration, but the dude came into the ER with no idea the glass was there.

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It was a downright nightmare.

Four different firefighters had to hold him down as he screamed prejudiced remarks at the female doctor. My brother said that when they removed the glass, blood shot out about 10 feet in the air. My brother, at that point, silently “noped” the heck out of medicine. 

He went on to attend Berklee Music School and is living his best life as a musical producer and engineer, and is not arguing with rednecks about whether or not there is a glass shard in their head….

A doctor is resting on the sofa,looking tiredCedric Fauntleroy , Pexels

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32. Shear Stupidity

I’m an ER nurse with seven years of experience. The list of dumb things I’ve seen is nearly endless. People coming in with massive burns because they smoked in bed is not as rare as you’d think. But the one that got me the most was a guy who came in for chest pain and fatigue.

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An EKG revealed he was having a really bad heart attack.

We activated the cath lab for emergency stents to hopefully save the guy’s life. They almost always access the patient through the groin for the procedure, so one of our jobs in the ER is to shave the patient’s groin to prep them for the cath lab. We got the clippers out, as we don’t use actual razors anymore, and informed the guy we needed to shave him. This is when things got annoying.

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He refused. No problem, we figured we woul adjust let the cath lab do it once he’s knocked out. Nope, the guy refuses to sign the consent for the stents because he doesn’t want his downstairs shaved.

After trying to educate him, pleading with him, and contacting every goddang lawyer the hospital had, the guy signed himself out of AMA and went home.

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He would rather die than have his curlies shaved. We looked up his address, and we weren’t the closest hospital to him, so if he passed at home, the medics would have to take him to a different hospital. I doubt he survived the day.

Doctor is preparing for surgery in hospitalRF._.studio , Pexels

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33. Paws For Thought

I’m a vet. A few years ago, I had a client bring his young cat in complaining of lethargy.

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Besides being a bit underweight, the physical exam was unremarkable, so I asked more questions about the cat’s diet.

Me: “What do you feed the cat"? 

Owner: “I feed him [online trendy raw food brand]”. 

Me: “How is his appetite? Does he finish what you feed him"?

Owner: “Yes, he always eats everything”.

Me: “How much do you feed him"? 

Owner: “Half a cup”. 

Me: “Once or twice daily"? What he said next absolutely floored me.

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Owner: “Once every three or four days”. 

Me: “…You only feed your cat twice a week"? 

Owner: “I believe in a more natural feeding approach, and based on my research, that’s how often cats eat in the wild”.

This owner was slowly starving his cat into oblivion based on some dumb idea he’d made up while watching National Geographic. I had to explain to him that domestic cats are not tigers and that small wildcats eat 10–20 small meals daily. Surprise, surprise, the cat’s lethargy and weight improved with regular feeding.

Cat is seating on the table and being checked by woman vetGustavo Fring, Pexels

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34. Always Double-Check

I once heard a story about a particular patient receiving radiation therapy.

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It was impressed upon her that she couldn’t miss her fractions of radiotherapy, even if she were busy, so she needed to inform us if she really couldn’t make the appointment. 

Well, one day, she couldn’t make it. But instead of just informing us, she came up with the dumbest solution possible. She sent her twin sister to receive the radiation therapy in her place. Of course, the twin answered yes to all the ID questions and had the same birthday, etc.

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She was only found out when the radiographers had trouble matching her to the CT. The CT was of a person who had undergone a mastectomy, while this “patient” still had both her mammaries. This story, many years later, is still told to new staff during training to reiterate the importance of ensuring correct identification.

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You would be stunned by the number of people who try to skip the queue. The number isn’t high. But it isn’t zero.

Woman in white sweater is talking with a doctorMART PRODUCTION, Pexels

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35. The Truth About Needles

I was a nurse practitioner student and about to give a child a flu vaccine. The child was visibly scared and asked if it was going to hurt.

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To help ease the child's anxiety, I said, "It will feel just like a mosquito bite". The mom then looked at me and said, "This is why kids don't trust medical professionals. You all lie. It DOES NOT feel like a mosquito bite"! 

I was so taken a back that I didn't respond and allowed my preceptor to give the shot.

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From now on, when I am asked if it will hurt, I just say, "Well, it is a needle going through your skin, so yeah".

These Nurses Dared To Correct The DoctorPexels

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36. It Took Some Arm Twisting

I work in orthopedic rehab. I had a patient with a common fracture of the wrist that a doctor sent over because she was inexplicably getting stiffer and stiffer.

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I spent 17 sessions with her one on one, 40ish minutes each. But nothing I did worked. The reason why still stumps me.

For whatever reason, instead of just bending her wrist, she would contort her entire body. She was married, raised kids, had a career, and was a seemingly functional adult.

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I tried everything to get her to actively use her muscles to move her wrist. 

I put her in front of a mirror, filmed videos of myself doing the exercise or her doing it, and tried to get her to spot the difference between moving your shoulder versus moving your wrist.

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The last time I saw her, I even strapped her arm to a chair, and she still didn’t understand that she should’ve only been trying to move her wrist. 

I will never understand it.

Female doctor touches patient's shoulder and tells her good newsStudio Romantic, Shutterstock

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37. There Was No Sugarcoating It

I work at a vet clinic. We get a lot of this sort of thing, oftentimes with diabetic patients.

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One of the worst I’ve seen was an older owner come in with an extremely overweight, diabetic dog. The owner says the dog has been slow, tires easily, and has been “flopping around”, which is odd for her. The doctor checks the dog’s blood glucose, and it is so high it is literally off the charts. 

Normal blood glucose for a dog is around 100 or so.

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The dog's reading was shocking—it was beyond 1000. We asked the owner how it got so high. Was she eating? She was because she was obese. Were you giving her the insulin? The owner then proceeds to say that they think she’s probably fine without it since she’s a “strong and hardy dog”.

Ma’am, your nine-year-old 80-pound Dalmatian is currently half-alive on the floor because you don’t give her insulin. How they kept that poor dog alive for that long was astounding.

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A Dalmatian dog is looking sadJozef Fehér , Pexels

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38. Are You Kidding Me!?

When I was an intern posted in the obstetric department, I saw a 42-year-old pregnant woman who came for an antenatal checkup. This was her seventh pregnancy, and she had only one living child. So she had five pregnancies previously, which failed (three spontaneous abortions and two stillbirths).

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The sixth one had been high-risk too, and she’d needed to get a cervical cerclage done (they stitch the cervix because it is too weak to hold a baby in until term). When the OBGYN asked her why she would put herself through pregnancy again instead of being content with her daughter, she replied, “My in-laws want us to have at least two children”. 

It was the biggest Pikachu-face moment of my life.

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Young pregnant woman is laying on bed with female doctor in hospitalMART PRODUCTION, Pexels

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39. Jesus Took The Wheel Years Ago

I’m an optometrist. I had an elderly patient come in surrounded by concerned family members because the patient ran over one of those pop-up tents on the side of the road that the telephone engineers use to protect themselves from the rain. Luckily no one was hurt as the worker was on lunch.

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Worried as to how the elderly driver missed seeing a large, red, and white tent in the middle of the day, it was then that the elderly relative admitted to having spent the last three years driving from memory.

Caring nurse holding mature patient hand at meeting in hospitalfizkes, Shutterstock

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40. Trying Hard To Be Patient

I had a patient come to see me in the clinic on a Monday; everything was fine.

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By Tuesday morning, she’s on the hospital census with a pending consult for me. When I see her, she says she’s fine and doesn’t know why she was admitted. She then walked out of the clinic, called an ambulance from across the street, and got taken to a different hospital.

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She reported her problems were uncontrolled, and nobody was taking her seriously. They transferred her back overnight because I don’t work at that other hospital. She then gets discharged Wednesday morning. On Friday morning, she is again back on the census with a pending consult. I go to see her, and once again, she says she’s fine, and she’s not sure why she’s there.

This time she had a friend pick her up from the hospital and drive her to a small outlying hospital without the services she needed.

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She walked into the ER and said she was in distress but that nobody was taking her seriously. Yet again, she gets admitted and transferred back to my hospital overnight. She gets discharged on Friday afternoon.

Sure as heck, she came back on Saturday morning. I asked her, “Why do you think you keep getting admitted to the hospital”? She has no clue.

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Completely baffled. I tell her it’s because she keeps going to hospitals and telling them she needs help. No lights come on. I ask her, “Why do you keep going to other hospitals”?

Finally, she tells me, “I didn’t know what else to do. My apartment is a complete mess.

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My caretaker won’t clean my apartment because I’m supposed to learn how to do it, and I just don’t want to do it”. Please note that she is not a ward of the state but still gets most of the services, like coaches, guardians, drivers, etc.

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So, I follow up with, “But why do you keep telling them that I’m not taking you seriously”? What she said next is forever burnt into my brain. “If I don’t, they just send me home in a cab”.

Doctor in white coat has consulting with older senior female patient in hospitalGround Picture , Shutterstock

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41. False Wisdom

I’m a dental nurse. My favorite story involved a 30-something-year-old woman who came in for a checkup at the low-cost emergency clinic I worked at.

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Her teeth were broken and almost black, and her gums were angry, swollen, bright red, and bleeding by just moving her tongue against them. She needed multiple scaling and hygienist appointments and a debridement. 

An X-ray showed she needed work on all but her wisdom teeth, and the results made me raise my eyebrows—she needed 10 fillings. She also needed root canals to try and save some teeth and extractions for, I think, three teeth or possibly more if the root canal treatment didn’t work. I explained everything and did the usual explanation of proper oral hygiene.

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I then asked her if she had any questions, to which she said, “It’s okay if I lose this set of teeth; my others will come through”. The dentist and I just looked at each other, probably a lot longer than we should have. No words.

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I couldn’t think of anything to reply to that comment. I had a lot of weird and disgusting things happen at that clinic. I miss working there.

Woman seating on dentist chair with two dentists by her sideCedric Fauntleroy , Pexels

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42. When You Just Can’t Sulfa Fools

I’m a paramedic, and I had this call while working on a rural fire/EMS service. A call came in for an allergic reaction.

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I arrived at a rural farm and found the patient in the kitchen on the ground, wheezing. Her husband said she took sulfa, which she’s allergic to, and after grabbing her blood pressure, we hit her with epinephrine (which is the same as an EpiPen) and Benadryl.

Her breathing improved, and she started to be able to answer my questions.

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First, I confirmed her allergy by asking, “So, you’re allergic to sulfa"? The patient says, “Yeah”. I reply, “And you took sulfa"? Again, she goes, “Yeah”. So I asked, “Was it mislabeled or in the wrong bottle"? She answers me with a simple “No”. Okay…

Needing more information, I inquired, “Was it your husband’s prescription"? And unbelievably, she tells me, “No, it was for our horse”. Huh?

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 Feeling a lot more confused, I respond, “Was...Wait, did you say a horse? You took sulfa prescribed for a horse"? She then clarifies, “Well, I only took half”. Sure, that makes it better.

Still trying to follow her logic, I guessed, “...You only took half because a horse is much larger than a person"? The patient confirms, “Yeah”. Uh-huh…I’m still not fully understanding, so I respond, “...Okay. Were you intentionally trying to hurt yourself"? And the patient indignantly answers, “No, of course not”. Exasperated now, I pressed, “But you know you’re allergic, right"?

And she goes, “Yeah. I just have a cold and thought it would help me breathe better”. I couldn’t believe it. Incredulously, I then summarized the situation back to her:

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“So you took horse sulfa—which you’re allergic to—because you had a cold and thought it would help your breathing"? “I took half a horse sulfa," the patient corrected me. Good Lord.

I just responded, “Sorry, half. Gotchya. Let’s go to the hospital”.

Woman is laying in back of a paramedic vanPavel Danilyuk, Pexels

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43. A Tough Pill To Swallow

I worked in a retail pharmacy as a pharmacy tech.

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I once had a patient cut the pharmacist help line and complain to the pharmacist about the size of his pills. He said, "These pills are too big and tough for me to swallow. Can you make them smaller"?

Unfortunately, the pharmacist told him there wasn't much she could do about it.

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He'd have to tell his doctor if he was having trouble swallowing them and ask for a new prescription. He complained again, "But they're too big. Do something about them"! She told him the same thing again.

Even though I wasn't the pharmacist, I was ready to jump in and add that if he was really upset about the size of his pills, he could complain to the manufacturer.

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Eventually, he did walk away.

Person taking Zinc pillsStepanPopov, Shutterstock

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44. This Patient Was In A Jam

I’m a paramedic and was called out for a stroke. The man was having a stroke; upon doing a stroke screen, it looked like the patient had something large in his mouth. Thinking maybe this guy had some sort of oropharyngeal cancer or mass, I asked his wife if this was indeed the case, and she looked at me with a very puzzled look.

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She said no, and then I asked, “What is in his mouth”? His wife then says it’s a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that she shoved in there. When her husband’s symptoms started, she thought it was just that his blood glucose was low, so she tried to force-feed this poor man an entire sandwich before she called 9-1-1. Ah, job security.

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Sick black man is on the stretcher in hospital vanRDNE Stock project , Pexels

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45. It Was An Oxidant Waiting To Happen

There was a 24-year-old patient who was brought in from a prison in a rural county. He was working roadside cleanup when he found a bottle in a ditch that he thought contained booze, and he quickly chugged it down. To be fair, it did look like booze.

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It wasn’t. 

It turned out it was a substance that contained sulfuric acid. Its pH was less than 2.5...It just ate up the litmus paper. So shortly afterward, he gets to the ICU, and he is in excruciating pain and vomiting blood.

The gastroenterologist took him to do an EGD (basically a procedure where they can look at the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum with a camera attached to a flexible tube), and the pictures were horrendous.

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 You could see his stomach and esophageal mucosa eroding. He had to be sent off to another hospital where they had an esophageal surgeon who could repair the mess.

He, of course, needed multiple surgeries and had a very long hospital stay. I saw him a few months later when he was admitted for another issue.

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He was down to 90 lbs (from about 150) and was getting fed through a PEG tube. He was very lucky to be young and otherwise healthy (but not very smart).

Man wearing hospital pajamas ,feeling sick in painfreepik ,Freepik

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46. A Rash Decision

I’m a pharmacist. This story comes to mind, although I’m sure there are plenty more I’m not remembering. A woman came in, claiming that her medication was making her vomit.

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She said she couldn’t remember what it was called. So, I looked up her profile, but there was nothing recent, just some one-off antibiotics and an anti-fungal from almost a year ago.

I asked her if her medication was over the counter, and she said that it was and pointed me to the Monistat cream.

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I thought it was incredibly strange that a cream meant for “lady parts” had made her vomit, so I asked her how she had been using it. That’s when I learned the disgusting truth—much to my surprise, she’d been taking it by mouth. 

She explained that she would fill the plunger with the cream, shoot it to the back of her throat, and swallow it so she wouldn’t taste it as much as putting it directly on her tongue and swallowing.

A person is holding a white cream in her handMike Murray, Pexels

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47. What A Meathead

I’m a rural ER doctor. A 35-year-old female walked in with right-sided jaw/neck swelling.

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She says, “I think it happened because I ate some meat yesterday that my body is reacting to…” Then suddenly, 10 minutes later: “Oh yeah, and I accidentally swallowed a bee, and it stung me in my mouth right before this happened. Sorry, I forgot to mention that”.

Female doctor is check in female patientAntoni Shkraba, Pexels

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48. Rubbing Salt In The Wound

My sister told me a story of a woman with chronic blisters and lesions on her lips.

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They couldn’t figure out what it was for weeks. It would heal and come back, heal and come back. The truth was disturbing.

It turned out she would jam out on like three bags of salt and vinegar chips a day for weeks at a time until the sores hurt too bad to continue, then she’d go to the doctor.

Woman is eating chipscottonbro studio, Pexels

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49. It Ultimately Wasn’t Very Fun-Knee

I overheard a conversation between a nurse, a doctor, and a patient in the ER.

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They were trying to figure out whether the patient was very stupid or had a head injury. It was both hilarious and sad. He kept telling them that he was there for a hurt leg, but he couldn’t explain why his leg was hurt, how it was hurt, or how he got there—nearly anything.

I heard them talking in a hallway to each other.

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The nurse was convinced the patient hit his head. The doctor, without skipping a beat, dropped his unexpected diagnosis: “No, he is just an idiot”. It turned out the doctor was right. They got ahold of the guy’s wife. She told them in the hallway he’s always this dumb, and if she left him, he would get lost in his own house and starve.

It sounded like the patient’s leg was visibly injured or swollen. But when asked what happened or how it felt, he gave nonsensical idiot answers.

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He wasn’t slurring, but answering in a regular idiot voice, saying things like, “It feels hurt”, and “I was talking to Jimmy, and we were doing our usual work, and my leg hurts”. 

The doctor would ask, “Did something happen? What is the work”? But the patient kept responding, “Something always happens; you know how it goes”, or “I just want my leg fixed”.

Man is seating on hospital bedTima Miroshnichenko , Pexels

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50. They Must’ve Gone Ballistic

I had a patient who had a bullet lodged in her leg.

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We had the surgeon come and assess her. Based on its placement, he suggested leaving it because removing it could cause even more danger. We discharged her. I'll never forget what she did next.

She immediately walked to the ER in the same hospital to complain of leg pain.

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She had prescriptions and wound supplies in her hand. Still, they brought her back, discovered her injury, and called for a surgical consult. The same surgeon was on-call and came to assess her. Guess what?! 

The surgeon made the same suggestion to leave it. Then we educated her EXTENSIVELY about never getting an MRI or the metal will fly out of her skin.

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Eventually, she left. She returned a few months later to a sister hospital complaining of a headache. She got inpatient admission, and you guessed it: They did an MRI. 

The slug ripped out, and the MRI machine was down for almost a week!

Woman is laying in hospital bedRDNE Stock project , Pexels

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51. That’s Never Gonna Heel Now

This was circa 1983, and I’m a nurse (retired)—and there's one dummy that I'll never forget. I had this one guy in his early 20s who went swimming after drinking in a notoriously nasty lake in our area.

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It was a “don’t drink the water” kind of lake, and he went in without shoes, stepped on an old booze tab, and cut his foot open. 

He didn’t go to the hospital or try to clean it at all for about a week. His girlfriend said he kept saying, “It’s fine, it’s just a cut," when she pressured him to get it seen, so of course, he showed up in the ER with a foot that blew up like a balloon. Healing it took two and a half months in the hospital.

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His foot had to be completely laid open in surgery, doing debridement and packing, which I can honestly say after over 30 years in healthcare stands as one of the nastiest jobs I have ever had to do—and I had been dealing with things like bedsores and open wounds from radiation treatments and cancer for about seven years at that point.

It was bad, but that's not all—on top of this, he was obnoxious, disrespectful, and, when the opportunity presented itself, cruel. Other nurses, you know the type, they’re everywhere. Hopefully not as open about it these days, but yeah.

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I had a student nurse I was training come running out of the room in tears and refused to go back in and would not tell any of us what he said, but I can imagine.

Eventually, we finally got it cleaned out, and it’s responding well to antibiotics, and the tissue is granulating well. He gets sent home with antibiotics and strict instructions on how to care for it and to keep it clean and dry.

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THE DAY he left the hospital, he went back out to the same lake, got tipsy, put on some nasty tennis shoes, and went swimming.

He showed up on our floor again a week after being discharged. He lost the foot. His girlfriend left him.

Male patient is laying in hospital bed in dark hospital roomValentin Angel Fernandez, Pexels

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52. She’ll Just See Herself Out, Now…

I’m an ophthalmology surgical technician. A glaucoma patient in her late 50s was going blind despite her drop therapies for the past six months.

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Her pressure was consistently in the 30s and 40s. I asked her if she was using her drops regularly (twice daily), and she said yes. 

I asked, as politely as I could, if she’d missed any doses in the past month. She said no. I asked if she was using them properly, and she got super offended.

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 She asked me very rudely, “Do I look like an idiot to you"? I said, “No, but I just need to be sure. Sometimes patients think they’re doing it right, but they can easily miss it. Can you show me how you use your drops"?

I could have never predicted what came next.

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She took out her drop bottle, gave it a good shake (so far, so good), looked up at the ceiling (also a good sign), opened her MOUTH, and swallowed two drops. I got in trouble, but my OD backed me up and told her that’s the stupidest thing he’s ever seen in 25 years. 

She cried and said we were being mean to her and that the drops burned her eyes, so she didn’t want to put them in there, and since the eyes, ears, nose, and throat are all connected, why did it matter where she put them? That’s not how glaucoma therapy works. 

She needed a shunt implant, and we were able to save about 30% of her visual field.

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But yeah, she was drinking her drops and going blind.

Young woman is holding bottle of dropsKoolShooters , Pexels

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53. An Change Of Heart

This one came from a colleague of mine. So, this 60-something-year-old suffered from an acute complication and got a pacemaker to solve the problem. 

Everything went normally, and as planned, he recovered. Every care and medication that he needed to take got prescribed and explained and his medical appointments with a cardiologist/arrhythmologist were scheduled so he could get the follow-ups he needed.

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But this patient was wild.

The man then proceeded to never show up to any appointments and never answered any calls from the hospital to know of him and reschedule. This went on for around three years. Then one day, he showed up without former warning and asked to talk with the doctor who did the procedure to put in his pacemaker.

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People were weirded out, but since the doctor was present that day and this patient was in clear distress, they talked to him and managed to find a couple of minutes to have the doctor check on him. Inside the appointment room, the doctor noticed that the man was wearing a bra inside his shirt.

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The man explained he’d been wearing his daughter’s bra for three months after his “problem” got worse. So the doctor asked that he take off his shirt…and there he stood, this shirtless man wearing his daughter’s bra, showing off the pacemaker that should’ve remained inside his body. 

It was now dangling outside of it, being held by the left bra cup, with a big infected open wound above it with the pacemaker leads still inserted into his veins and connected to his heart.

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Nobody had any idea how the man let that situation come to be or how he didn’t pass from sepsis or any other health problem that might’ve appeared, for that matter.

Shocked male doctor is holding his headbenzoix , Freepik

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Sources: Reddit, Quora, Buzzfeed


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