Hospital workers see all sorts of crazy things on a daily basis. It might seem that they’d eventually get used to it after working in the medical field for a couple of years, but every now and then, a patient comes along with a shocking ailment or injury that just absolutely boggles them. Here are some of those one-in-a-million cases that made doctors say: “How the heck did that happen?”
1. Not Just A Scratch
EMT here. I got called to our local limited-capability ER to transport a patient and a critical care team to a trauma center. I got into the ER and headed over the to patient. The patient’s room was a *horrible* mess: dressings everywhere, and blood on the ceiling and floor. Imagine any scene from any over-acted movie where the medical professional yells, “Don’t you die on me!” Like that.
On the bed was an older woman with her leg exposed and the doctor was doing some stitches on her shin. No biggie—it was the kind of thing you’d expect the doctor to spend five minutes on deciding if a band-aid was good enough or if it actually needed surgery. It completely failed to line up with the scene around them, like the housekeeping department was on strike or something.
Anyway, it turned out that the woman had banged her shin into the steps of a shuttle bus. Her husband then drove her to the ER closest to their house (45 minutes away), bypassing six other hospitals, including the one we ended up taking her to. Apparently, when she walked into the ER, she said to the nurse, “I think I’m going to die,” and the nurse responded, “I think you’re right!”
She was on aspirin, warfarin, and some form of chemo. She had virtually no clotting factors, and the ones she had left were inhibited. So what would have been an annoying bleed for most people, which would have easily been controlled with pressure after a few minutes, was actually a very small, uncontrolled arterial bleed which sprayed everywhere. We got her down to the trauma center without any additional complications, but I have no follow-up from there.
2. Little Snag, Big Mess
My wife was a social worker at a dialysis clinic. She came home frazzled early one day. Apparently, a regular patient who came in got his central catheter (PICC) line pulled out of his neck, and it happened in the weirdest way—as was pulling off his sweater at home. Instead of walking to the ER, which was across the street, he drove there…and he sprayed blood all over the foyer area.
A couple of nurses got to him and controlled the bleeding as best they could while my wife called an ambulance. She said that the amount of blood was indescribable. He had parked out front so they had to move his car. They couldn’t drive it because of the amount of blood in it and it had to get it towed. She said it looked like a murder scene.
3. A Traumatizing Sight
My dad was a medical lab technologist and when he was an intern, the lab techs got paged to go down to the ER to draw blood from a patient. Since my dad was a young guy and fresh out of college, he raised his hand to go down, despite the more senior techs warning him not to go. He went down and they had IVs EVERYWHERE.
The patient tried to end it all with an electric knife (like the one that gets used to carve turkeys) and he tore everything in his neck. The only thing keeping his head to his body was his spine. My dad had to draw blood from this patient’s ankle since everything else has been taken up by units of blood just hanging there. When he came back to see his co-workers in the lab, he was as white as a ghost!
They warned him not to go, but him being young and eager, he went. He has more stories from when he worked in Detroit as a lab tech in the ER for a Level 1 trauma center. He was there when Detroit was not a very nice city and he saw the decline in danger since he left earlier this year.
4. A Really Close Call
A teenager got in a fight with his brother, of course, both under the influence. They were fighting over a girl. The brother smashed a glass coffee pot and attacked the dude in the neck, and when he saw blood, he ran. Somehow, he managed to miss all the major vasculature in the neck. This was out in the bush, so I got to take this guy to the nearest major hospital with a trauma surgeon on standby.
On the way, his mom called and told him he better not rat his brother out (since he has a record). They then proceeded to get in a shouting match and he started thrashing around. I took the phone away from him and told him to lie still unless he wanted to die, then administered more morphine. Later, a CT scan showed that he was a centimeter away from having a carotid nicked and dying.
5. Biting The Bullet
Medical specialist here. I worked at an inner-city hospital that was kind of the red-headed stepchild of hospitals in the area, but that’s another story. We were a community hospital that did primarily cardiac care but we also had a small ER. We were in the middle of the Trauma Triangle—that is, three large Level 1 trauma centers—so we rarely saw much of anything in our ER.
It was usually just glorified primary care and cardiac patients diverted from the other Level 1 trauma centers. But one time, while working a night shift, we got a call from the fire department saying they were responding to someone with a self-inflicted bullet wound. This was an unusual patient for us to get, but they were all on divert and we were the closest facility. Being a pretty boring ER, for the most part, all the staff there got a bit excited to finally have a real ER patient.
The firemen rolled in with the patient a bit later. Apparently, the guy had called his friend from a run-down hotel, said he was going to end himself, then hung up. The friend then called 9-1-1, and emergency workers rushed to the hotel. The patient arrived intubated with CPR in progress, but there was no visible wound anywhere.
I was on the chest doing CPR and my supervisor was bagging the tube. He told the doc that something wasn’t right with the bagging, and he didn’t think the tube was in. My supervisor pulled out the tube and the doc went to intubate the patient. While trying to insert the tube, the doc yelled loudly: “What the heck?” He then asked for the McGills, a type of forceps used occasionally for intubation procedures.
He proceeded to yank out a bullet shell from the patient’s trachea. After the code was called, we did a closer examination and noticed the guy’s two front teeth were chipped. The coroner concluded that the guy didn’t have the weapon but had the shell, and he put the shell in his mouth thinking he could set off the primer with a hard bite.
The guy bit down, chipped his teeth, winced in pain, and inhaled the shell into his trachea. The firemen didn’t notice the obstruction and put the tube in his esophagus. I’ve seen some crazy stuff in my 20 years, but this was by far the strangest.
6. That’s Just Looney
I had a guy rush into the ER saying his brother had been “blown up.” He opted to drive him in because he foolishly assumed that would be quicker and safer than calling an ambulance. We went out and got the guy out of the car—he literally looked like one of those Looney Tunes characters that had an explosion backfire. We ended up having to put his armband on his foot because his hands were literally melting off his arms…
Surprisingly, he was relatively calm and lucid (endorphins are a heck of a thing). When we asked what happened, he said his “oil tank in the truck exploded.” I don’t like to generalize, but our demographic tends to dabble in the forbidden, so we assumed it was actually some shady operation gone wrong.
7. A Near Fatal Mistake
I was working for this small engineering company which had very old lathes. I was only going to work there for six months to get experience for a better job, but my second to last day was a nightmare. The lathes were these big old things that did not have any of the safety guarding that more modern machines have. They were primarily used to make parts for WWII aircraft.
I was working on one and I knew how dangerous those things could be, so when I was running them, I had my wits about me. But the guys who had been working there for 30 years or more had become really complacent with them. To give you an example, whenever I measure an aircraft part, I always turn the machine off and then start it back on just to be safe, but that takes ages, so the other guys just leave it on.
One guy started measuring his part and his overall sleeve ended up getting caught on it, wrapping around the spindle. Behind the machine is a metal plate designed to stop metal cuttings from going everywhere, but the gap between it and the spindle is about three inches. The guy got wrapped around and was pushed into the 3-inch gap, then came out the bottom onto the workshop floor.
He looked like a crash test dummy being hit by a car. I definitely do not want to see a person with literally every bone in his body broken again, so now I work as a safety officer—I have every right to be a witch about safety.
8. Parting The Rib Cage
Anesthetist here. I was once on-call and had an emergency trauma case. We usually got a few of those every day and they normally consisted of people who fell from a certain height or suffered a minor car collision. I came down to the resus department and was told it was an 18-year-old patient with stabbing to the chest and lost output.
It was my first time dealing with this type of scenario so the adrenaline got going. I called for immediate help from the consultant on call. Multiple surgical and ED personnel arrived to be on standby. I work in a district general hospital, so we don’t have facilities for cardiothoracic surgery. At the time, our only hope was to cut open his chest (thoracotomy) and hope there was something we could treat—i.e., pneumothorax, haemothorax.
The young man arrived by ambulance with CPR in progress, and there was BLOOD everywhere—his clothes were soaked, he was blue and pale, and there was vomit in his mouth. I took over the airway and intubated him while the ED doctor and surgeon started to quickly cut open his thorax in ED. Within 30 seconds of arrival, they had cut away his entire rib cage, lifting it up like a flap.
I could literally see his entire heart and lungs. Huge amounts of clotted blood fell out of his chest. His heart was palpated but he had lost enough blood that further CPR was futile. His official time of passing was three minutes after his arrival. The authorities took over for evidence, then we all washed our hands of the blood and went back to work. I could not sleep that night or for a few days after.
9. The Jumpy Ticker
The other night, one of my crewmates transported a person to the ER. The report went something like this: “Uhhh…We’re en route to your facility with a patient and…her pacemaker…Well, it fell out. Vitals are within normal limits. We’ll be there in five minutes.” The nurses were all like, “Yeah right. Dumb paramedics. How can a pacemaker fall out?”
They soon arrived with the patient… And indeed, her pacemaker had fallen out. She got it like 20 years ago and the skin just opened up…There was no blood or anything, just plop…The pacemaker popped out. You could see some adipose tissue, again no blood, and the pacemaker hanging by wires from their chest. No pain, no accident, no apparent self-injury.
10. Sharp Objects
My boyfriend was the patient in this story. He was an eight-year-old boy with Type 1 diabetes and he’s had it since he was five years old. His blood sugar got out of whack one day and he was admitted to the hospital. The kid had been getting his fingers pricked and having insulin injected for years, so nobody thought he’d have a problem getting an IV cannula in his arm. They were WRONG.
Apparently, one nurse staggered out of his hospital room with a visible sneaker print across her face, while another nurse got knocked unconscious. It took nearly a dozen people to restrain and sedate this scrawny little kid. He still has a phobia of needles, and even then he usually needs sedatives. The only real exception is putting his insulin pump line into his stomach.
11. Human Flag
Mexico’s Independence Day is on September 16th, but aside from the parade, all the celebrations take place on the 15th. It is the busiest night of the year for paramedics as all sorts of craziness ensue, from stages that fall under the weight of tipsy people to street fights between rival hoods. And then, there is this guy. He impaled himself with a flag.
He probably climbed a fence or something and was waiving it when he fell and it went through him. But what was really shocking is that he was so tipsy that he was still waiving it while lying on the floor and half the mast was inside of him. Patriotic as heck though. We nicknamed him Pedo (slang for tipsy) Escutia (a hero of the Mexican-American conflict who threw himself with a flag off a castle to prevent it from being captured by the enemy).
12. Next-Level Insanity
I’m a psychologist who works in prisons. One guy was so imaginative with his self-harm that he’s now used as an example in officer training. There were so many things he did to harm himself that I couldn’t list them all here, but the one I’ll never forget was when he used the plastic from a packet of Tim Tams as a sharp object to create an opening in his skin. But that’s not the most disturbing part.
He patiently waited until his one-hour-per-day time in the exercise yard to grab a fly, and somehow managed to not let the officers see it even though he was handcuffed hands and feet. He then inserted the fly into the wound and eventually, his wound became a home for larvae.
13. Just A Typical Night
Here are a few to boggle your mind: A honey crisp apple up the butt. Just your average night. A lady whose throat was injured with a broken glass bottle. Many reconstructive surgeries later, I hear she is doing well. A hallucinating man who was convulsing after attending an EDM festival. He literally looked possessed. 20 security guards later (even after, we finally got him restrained. I’m seriously surprised he didn’t die as he was incredibly messed up.) But this last one was something else.
We had a guy come in stating he was involved in a carjacking and was attacked. His head was bleeding, his heart rate was high, and since he claimed he had been attacked, the attending doctor decided we were going to take him to the resuscitation room (which is protocol). As we are taking him there, a pregnant woman arrives via ambulance.
As soon as they saw each other, the man yelled something like, “That’s her, that’s the lady who took my car!” Like a bat out of the depths, the pregnant lady jumped off the stretcher and bolted out of the hospital. Security went after her but she was gone. I don’t know if she was found later on or not.
My dad got his ax tangled in a hammock when we were camping and ended up with it in his leg instead of the wood (yes, he is aware that he was supposed to check his perimeter—he had initially, but the log had rolled several times and he just got frustrated and moved with it). It went right between the tibia and fibula, chipping one of them and slicing through the artery.
He ended up having to have vascular surgery to repair the artery and he spent 2.5 months in a cast. It took a very long time for him to regain feeling in the top of his foot.
15. Golf Club Conflict
I’m a surgeon. My favorite trauma case I saw in residency was a guy who came in with a golf club through the bicep muscle belly of his left arm. How did it get there? Well, he was playing at a friendly adult soccer match when things got a little heated. He said he felt threatened and retreated to grab a handy golf club from his car for protection.
He then returned to the soccer pitch and confronted the other player who threatened him. Things got more heated and he took a swing at the dude with the club. This only broke the head of the club off on the other guy’s body. Another dude then grabbed the club and then attacked him with his own golf club. So he showed up to the ER with a golf club through and through his biceps.
It actually didn’t bleed that much when we took it out.
16. Better Take Cover
I have a good friend who described what a local hospital calls a “Code Alex” (I’ve changed the name changed for HIPAA purposes). He said that several times a week, a man with mental health issues and an ostomy (I don’t remember the specific location of the bag) would do something intentionally to be admitted to the hospital and taken by ambulance.
What he did to get himself admitted was different every time—he may have impaled himself one time or poisoned himself another time, etc. The EMTs would call the hospital ahead of time and warn them of a “Code Alex” when they picked him up. Anyway, he was a very large man—around 350 pounds—and he would always have to be restrained because he got violent with the healthcare workers.
But he got to the point where he was able to get his ostomy bag off, and I kid you not, he would use his ostomy to try to cover people in excrement. I’m guessing he had lots of gas in his intestines because that would be the only way to do what he did. My friend is not someone who lies or exaggerates, but it’s hard to believe someone would be this skilled, vindictive, and disgusting.
17. Patients Gone Rogue
Thankfully, I was not there for it, but at the hospital, a man pulled his ostomy bag off and threw it over his nurse’s face because he was angry about something. This was a completely oriented guy with no mental health issues (if you don’t count the absolute jaw-dropping reach of his rudeness). And this wasn’t the ER—he ended up being charged for assault for it.
One incident I did witness, and it was so ridiculous—I’ll never forget it. I saw a guy actually use his catheter bag as a whip. He was smacking the tech trying to restrain him. We had to pull it off of him to get the bag away. It ended with me basically kneeling on his chest to restrain him while trying to pull the catheter off (it was just placed so that thing was stuck on).
When security came in, it took four of the bigger guys to hold the patient down—he was maybe 115 pounds. Just insane, some of the things you see in the field.
18. When There’s A Will…
I spent a few months in a psychiatric hospital a couple of years ago and was in a wing of teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18. We were there for a variety of reasons but a lot of us had attempted to end our lives, so of course, they were super strict about keeping us away from anything that we could use to hurt ourselves. I mean no shoelaces, hair ties, pencils, pens, shampoo in quantities large enough to be poisonous if ingested, etc.
Anyway, my roommate at the time was on “unit restriction” and basically wasn’t allowed to leave the room. When I was gone one day, she broke open a plastic, travel-size lotion bottle and dug the sharp, broken edge into her neck. She was unconscious and still bleeding when I got back and found her and she was taken to the ER.
I was told she ended up okay, but I never heard for certain because she didn’t come back in the time I was there. I have to wonder what the doctors thought when a kid was brought in with half a lotion bottle sticking out of her neck.
19. Stuck In Bed
An otherwise healthy, young man had to have one of his legs amputated after an accident. I met him months after that. He was so depressed he hadn’t moved at all in that time, even if he still had one leg and no other mobility issues. It doesn’t sound so bad, but he actually had the worst pressure ulcer I’ve ever seen. As in, a good chunk of his ilia (hip bones) was visible.
The skin had separated from the rest of the tissues around his lower back, forming a sort of pocket big enough that you could actually stick your hand inside. I don’t know what happened to him, as I left that hospital shortly after he’d arrived.
20. A Well-Kept Secret
ER nurse here. I was working a night shift one day when I got a standby case of an infant drowning and the mother entering hypovolemic shock. Initially, I thought it was a mother trying to do a water birth thing but that went wrong. Turns out, the girl was underaged and her family didn’t know she was pregnant, so she gave birth to the baby in the toilet over the toilet bowl.
The reason the baby ‘drowned’ was because she let her babysit in the water for some time before calling her family for help. By the time the paramedics reached them, the baby was no longer breathing and the heartbeat was fading away. Luckily, they reached us in time to stabilize both of them and send them out to a women’s and children’s hospital for closer monitoring. That whole story baffles me to this day.
21. Finally, Some Action
I worked as a patient transporter at a large county hospital with a Level 1 trauma center (basically, a trauma center that can handle everything you can throw at it) for several years. Two things stand out to me. Firstly, I had a patient roll into the ER with an injury… “down there.” It was odd, but we didn’t think much of it until the guy rolled onto the unit holding what was supposed to be “down there” in his hands, accompanied by two officers.
Turns out, numbnuts was running from the officers, tried to jump a fence, slipped, and cut himself open. Secondly, I had a tipsy guy arrive at the unit on Cinco de Mayo with a fence post stuck up his backside. According to him, he had been walking along the fence (while tipsy, as you do) and he slipped, lodging it up there.
When the attending surgeon, who was Black, decided to question the logistics of the patient’s injury, the patient chose to unleash several ethnic slurs in the surgeon’s direction. Well, he definitely lived to regret that…the jerk ended up getting the fence post removed…without any anesthetic. The surgeon in question was definitely an enormous prick and could be a downright belligerent jerk at times. This is definitely one of those times. I never did hear how that fence post actually got up there.
22. Too Calm For Comfort
My sister is a doctor. She was doing her neurosurgery rotation when hospital personnel told her of a bullet wound victim. Doing the math—bullet wound, neurosurgery—they already expected it was going to be bad. My sister rushed into the room where she found a female patient seated on the bed…with a bullet stuck between her eyebrows. Nonchalantly, she just greeted my sister, saying: “Hi doc.”
Turns out, her abusive husband pointed a homemade firearm square on her forehead and fired. The bullet probably misfired resulting in it not penetrating the skull completely. A few rotations later, my sister bumped into her in the psych ward.
23. King of Kongs
A 40-something-year-old male walked into the triage and stated, slowly and uncomfortably: “So… I lost a bet.” Turns out, he somehow forced a Kong toy up his backside and couldn’t get it out. And we aren’t talking about the small Kong toys either. He ended up needing surgery and lost part of his colon. Nobody had the guts to ask him if he filled the Kong toy with peanut butter first.
Another time, there was a patient who came in after being in a motorcycle accident. Apparently, the kickstand of the bike impaled the rider’s knee, then somehow bent to the point where he couldn’t get it out. It looked like a really thick paperclip weaved through his knee. But perhaps the most memorable story I have is when a patient came in with a security escort for “acute psychosis.”
He tried to end his life with his truck trailer on the side of the interstate when PD intervened. He quickly deteriorated, and during intubation, when they pulled a blade out of his mouth, it was completely covered in a thick, bright blue sludge. We later find out he had been huffing paint and accidentally aspirated a whole bunch of it.
24. Injury Prone
My stepfather was a nurse in an emergency room. One day, a man came in who had chopped off a few of his fingers while working on his car. He was working on something towards the front of the engine, and while the motor was running, he reached in for something. That’s when the fan blade cut his fingers right off.
They were able to re-attach his digits and send him back to his normal life. So far, nothing too strange you might say…but wait. A few weeks later, the same man walked into the ER again, this time with a fan blade sticking out of his shoulder. Apparently, it got bent when it chopped off his fingers and it was hitting other parts of the engine making a noise, so he was attempting to straighten it out.
He took the blade off, bent it back into shape as best as he could. Then he reattached it and started up the engine to see if it was spinning correctly. After the third adjustment, he did not properly secure the fan blade, and when he was checking to see if it wobbled, it flew off and struck him in the shoulder.
25. A Doggone Scandal
I was an animal vet tech. We had this golden retriever come in for diarrhea, vomiting, and no appetite. The vet checked her out with a physical exam and sent the dog home with meds. A few days later, the female owner returned and said there was no improvement. This time, we hospitalized the dog and took X-rays.
On the X-ray, there was definitely a foreign body in the intestines, but it was hard to tell exactly what it was. The usual foreign bodies are baby pacifiers, socks, bones, and parts of rope toys. Surgery to remove it was scheduled, and the vet showed the owner the X-ray, asking her what the object could possibly be.
Had the dog had a history of getting into anything? The owner said no. The next day, we did the surgery—and what we found was absolutely shocking: We pulled out 13 pairs of satin, sexy, thong underwear, all stained in green bile from the intestines. We put them in a plastic bag to show the owner. Surely the owner must have noticed over a dozen pairs of her underwear were missing…
That afternoon, the owner came in and we showed her what we found during surgery…She was livid. She told us she didn’t wear that style of underwear, and she left in a huff all ticked off. The next day, her husband came in to pick up the dog (and pay the hefty bill). He told us he had been cheating on his wife and the thongs belonged to his mistress.
When he walked out with the dog, he scolded her for outing him. The wife kept the dog in their divorce settlement. Shortly after this, I left animal medicine to work with humans. I miss that job every day. Humans bite more than animals.
26. Tongue Twisted
I was the first person on the scene of a car accident. This old woman took a left turn into another car. I stopped and ran to her, after calling 9-1-1, and thought to keep her calm until EMTs arrived. She had so much blood down her face and chest, I couldn’t figure out where she was hurt…until she tried to speak…
In the accident, she had bitten through her tongue. I kept talking to her until they arrived, and tried to keep her from talking. She was totally out of it. I still can picture her tongue hanging out of her mouth by a tiny piece of flesh, and her trying to talk around it.
27. Scratchy Throat
So I was the idiot in the ER this week. On Wednesday night, after work (10 pm), I just got home and realized I didn’t have any of my sleeping tablets. So I just took one of my mom’s. Problem was that my mom’s tablets weren’t end-coated and they got stuck on the back of my tongue, causing me to gag and inhale sharply.
When I inhaled the tablet unstuck, it self-lodged in the duct for my right lung, cutting off the airflow to said lung. It took me 10 minutes of coughing, vomiting, gasping, and giving myself a bloody nose before the thing came out. I calmed down and went to bed. I figured, “Well it’s out now and I’m fine.” Boy, was I not fine.
By the time I got to my second job the next morning, I had serious pain in my lung and it was affecting my breathing. So I went to the ER. The nurse thought I was joking when I told her the story and the doctor I finally saw actually asked me how the heck that happened. All in all, I’m fine,—I have scratches in my lung duct and down my throat and I still have a bit of trouble breathing, but otherwise, I’m in tip-top shape.
Still, that was scary.
My cousin works in the ER. One night, two paramedics were wheeling in a stretcher with a man on it. The paramedics were grinning ‘from ear to ear’ and had a hard time not bursting out in laughter. The man on the stretcher was completely covered under a blanket. Only his hands and feet revealed that he was lying on his stomach.
The nurses and the patients in the ER were slightly confused because it all seemed like they were wheeling in a dead man. The whole ER was filled with suppressed laughter until a third grinning paramedic came in carrying a vacuum cleaner. He put the pipe under the blanket between the legs of the man. It turned out that he had put something in his backside and it somehow got stuck in there.
Another guy was wheeled in on a wheelchair, followed by two firefighters with some heavy equipment. He had a massive padlock on his private area for… reasons. When the lady he hired wanted more money for her services, he refused, so she left with the key. They brought him to the ER because they didn’t want to take any chances of infection.
29. Seeing Red
I was working in a rural ED when we had this guy and his gal come in. The guy was crying and his girl was COVERED in blood. In amongst the tears, and both of them freaking out, it transpired that they had been out at dinner and afterward had spent some time together in the car park. Well… things progressed from there, and it must have been dark or something because, before they knew it, this girl was covered in blood.
Freaking out, they hastily got themselves to the ER. Both were upset on arrival that she had miscarried a child, although neither was sure she was pregnant. It turned out, after the gynecologist’s review and several hours of assessment in the ED, she was just on her period. Well, it must have been a really bad period, as there wasn’t an inch of her, and a good part of him, not covered in blood.
30. Dodging a Bullet
My brother cracked his skull on ice and was taken to the ER when he was young. I remember it vividly. My brother got knocked over by another skater. He started crying and got medical attention immediately. I was so confused; people kept reassuring me that my brother was going to be okay. He got taken away in an ambulance along with one of my parents.
Apparently, the crack in his skull just missed a very sensitive part of his brain, and if it was any bigger than it was, it would have been incredibly fatal. My brother literally dodged a bullet that day.
31. X-Ray Vision
I was an X-ray tech at the time. A trauma patient rolled in, just waiting there in the trauma room, ready with my portable X-ray machine to do my part. Then, out of nowhere, a teenage girl on all fours came through with a pretty big fence post going right up and through, well, everything. When I checked to see exactly how deep it was, I found that the giant fence post just went through her entire bottom. She was immediately rushed to OR.
The story goes that she was locked in her room and freaked out that she couldn’t get out, so she jumped out her window and landed on a fence post. I’m sure substances were involved in some way.
32. Javelin Jiffy
My high school physics teacher was also the track coach. He told us a story about how when he was in high school, he was at a meet where someone had the bright idea of putting the javelin range immediately adjacent to the track with the throwers throwing toward the track rather than away from it. The javelins also happened to be a very similar shade to the dirt of the track.
One of the javelins had gone through the fence between the range and the track and had embedded itself there. No one on the trackside realized this and the throwers were not able to retrieve the javelin before the next race began. He said he was standing around, watching the race when one of the guys stopped dead as he came around the bend.
He couldn’t see the javelin (just a point the same color as the dirt facing him as he rounded a bend at full speed) and ended up getting impaled through the thigh (though to everyone watching said it looked like it had impaled “down there”). I cannot for the life of me remember why my teacher felt compelled to share this story with us.
33. Don’t Turn Your Back
As I was working the night shift, a dude came in with four officers and a bunch of restraints. He was naked, bleeding, and screaming. Great. So we did some blood work, sedated him, and tried to figure out what the heck he was on. Overall, the guy seemed okay, but we made some fatal errors: 1) we failed to do a pupil check, and 2) we let the new grad do the blood draw.
The dude immediately stood up, shoved the student nurse, and started throwing stuff. As I waded in to try to calm him down, another nurse came in to play “bad cop.” This enraged him, so I turned to the new nurse to tell her to back off. At that point, my back was facing the patient, which was not good…
He picked up his IV pole, swung it like he was going for a world record, and hit me across the back. I heard my ribs crack. I hit the floor, flipping around like a fish out of water trying to breathe. The officers came in to secure the dude and decided to stick him in 24-hour monitoring. I was still trying to breathe and cough, which hurt a lot.
That day, I learned a valuable lesson—DO NOT turn your back on anyone. Also, we never did find out what he took, but we had a suspicion that it was some new street substance making its rounds in our area.
34. Hanging On By A Thread
I had a patient while I was in the Air Force who tried to end his life by taking a rotating saw to his neck. When that was unsuccessful (how, I still don’t actually understand), he then wandered three miles into the woods hoping to just slowly bleed to his end. His wife found the blood, called the base officers, and they ended up finding him just wandering around in a daze. He lived. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
I ended up seeing him a few months later when he came into the facility for a follow-up and he stopped in to see the ER staff that night. He was very apologetic and couldn’t even remember why he even did what he did.
35. Back-Alley Tonsillectomy
Years ago, I was working as an ER doctor. A dad brought his three-year-old daughter in—they’d been eating pizza and she started choking. He opened her mouth and saw a red lump in the back of her throat, so he stuck his finger in and hoicked it out. Some fairly brisk bleeding followed, which had stopped by the time they came in.
He brought this three-centimeter piece of meat with him in a handkerchief, but it didn’t appear to be from the pizza they were eating. I had a look in this happy little girl’s throat without a problem—yep, only one tonsil to be seen. The other was in the hanky.
36. Off The Ladder
Not an ER staff person, but…the ER staff were pretty shocked when my adult brother came in for care after he cut his backside with a small electric pruning chainsaw. He was standing on an orchard ladder with the saw resting on the top step and his toddler shook the bottom of the ladder. That’s when things went haywire.
My dear brother grabbed the saw, somehow engaging the starter mechanism, and whirred it right into his rear end as he fell off the ladder. 42 stitches to close the jagged wound. He said his rear was on show as many staff people came by his ER room to check out the weird butt wound.
37. Barbecue Dangers
I had a woman come in for months complaining of random abdominal pain. Every time she came in, the pain was in a different location. She had X-rays and a CT scan, but nothing showed up. One night as she was laying in bed, she felt a sharp pain in one spot. She pressed down on that area and felt a very hard object poking through her skin.
She pinched it between her fingernails and pulled it out. It was a five-inch wire. It turned out to be part of a BBQ brush that was fraying from about five months earlier when they barbecued burgers last. Lesson learned. Replace your barbecue brushes often.
38. Third Time’s A Charm
I was a very new nurse when a guy came in by EMS after an attempt to take his own life. This was his third attempt according to family—the first time, he took too many sleeping pills and ended up sleeping for 36 hours, and the second time, he tried hanging himself and the rope snapped. This time he went all out. He took a chainsaw to his throat.
It was a huge, gory mess, but the actual teeth of the saw ended up getting snagged in his shirt and stopping the saw. He was able to go through a lot of muscle and fat, but he didn’t hit anything major, the best part was you could actually see his carotid artery pulsating. It took the doctor somewhere around 300 sutures and two hours of sewing to get him to put together again.
He was a really polite guy the whole time too, so I’m sure he was embarrassed by the whole thing.
39. Worst Dare Ever
One frat guy came in with “pain,” which was pretty obvious in his backside. He was a bro, through and through, so I thought maybe he would be embarrassed by the situation. But nope, he was honest and upfront; not for the pain meds, but for the pain to stop. He had a pool noodle (or the part they didn’t cut ) just stuck up in there.
It started as a dare, and multiple people at the pool party egged him on. So he took the challenge on by using something to help ease it in, then boom, the pool noodle was in the keister. Long story short, it hurt him severely, and there was blood so it was no good trying to pull it out. He ended up having it removed under surgery… and then ended up having an ostomy, because he was damaged beyond repair.
40. That’s Gonna Scar
One time, I was sitting in the ER with a broken foot and I watched this father come in crying, carrying his toddler son. The kid had no shirt on and I could see he had what looked to be pieces of tire tread stuck in his torso. Later on, I had found out he apparently fell off an ATV and one behind him had run him over. No freaking clue how that was even possible.
41. Anti-Seatbelt Consequences
My dad might qualify as one of these cases. I’m going to preface this with the fact my dad indulged in a lot of bad stuff at this time, which most likely contributed to the story. My dad had been in a car with his friends when the driver drove off of a cliff (whether he did it intentionally or unintentionally has never been determined).
Thanks to my dad’s lack of belief in seatbelts at the time, he was thrown from the car which caused his eye to pop out of its socket. The ER staff managed to pop it back in, and the eye in question is now a lazy eye but he can still see out of it. I’ve seen pictures of my dad before this point and it wasn’t a lazy eye prior to this accident, only after.
42. Scary Interior Connections
I was the patient in this story. After having intense intestinal pain, I was diagnosed with diverticulitis back in October and started a regimen of antibiotics. The antibiotics would help ease the pain for a little while, but whenever I was done with the antibiotics, the pain would return in full force. I ended up going to the hospital in June, due to the pain.
At first, the surgeons at the hospital thought I was misdiagnosed because they found evidence of a urachal cyst in an MRI and exploratory surgery. However, as they were setting up plans on removing this, I went in for a fistulogram (to determine how large the cyst was and its dimensions), only for the radiologist in charge of the fistulogram to realize it was not purely a urachal cyst. Instead, they realized something far more disturbing.
I had an exploded diverticuloid that became a fistula, connecting my intestines to a urachal remnant. The surgeon said he had seen fistula connections before, but not to a urachal remnant like mine. And with the rarity of urachal remnants in comparison to diverticulitis or similar syndromes, it’s probably going to be a while before these circumstances occur again.
43. Lucky Ol’ Lady
A lady was rushed into the ER in a cab, and the driver was completely freaking out. She had the handle of a knife sticking out from the side of her head. She’d been robbed and the guy had attacked her, stabbing her freaking skull with a knife. The incredible part is that she was absolutely fine. She was super chill the whole time, and honestly the sweetest old lady.
She was so amazingly lucky that the blade of the knife didn’t hit any major structures. She only lost partial sight in one of her eyes.
44. Zip Slip
One time, this guy was going #1 and looking out of his apartment window. All of a sudden, he saw his prom date fixing her dress with her mom and their jaws just dropped to the ground. He started freaking out and accidentally zipped his fly all the way up. I heard the emergency responders yelling at him, asking how he managed to get his family jewels caught in the middle.
45. Life Imitates Art
I think the one of the most interesting things I ever saw in the emergency department was the opposite of an episode of untold stories of the ER that I literally saw a few days earlier. The patient in the episode was labeled as being acutely psychotic as she said something was crawling in her head.
The doctor listened to her story and indeed believed his patient to be acutely psychotic. It was the physical exam that revealed that a fly laid eggs on her head and they had to remove multiple insects from her scalp by using Vaseline to suffocate the bugs. My patient unfortunately had the opposite. She was a highly respected member of the community.
She went on a holiday and got worms in her private area. The gynecologist confirmed it for her under a microscope. Once the diagnosis was made, she could have been easily treated. She was given the requisite dosing of mebendazole, I think. That’s a one-time dose, though sometimes you need a second to cure yourself within two weeks.
Unfortunately, what the patient presented with was an acute psychotic break. She stated she had worms coming out of her skin. The only way to get them was to chew walnuts and rub the chewed walnut paste against her skin to extract the worms. She rhythmically rocked in the bed while her husband sat by. She couldn’t stop rubbing walnuts and saying, “See there’s a worm.”
This went on for hours while we ran lab work, A CT scan of her head, and a substance screen. We even sent walnut worms for pathology. No positive results. Eventually, I had to admit the patient. The husband looked so defeated. I didn’t feel comfortable with him having the strength to care for her. I don’t know if I’ll see that scene again.
46. The Rarest Case
A 30-year-old female with sharp, 8/10 chest pain that worsened with deep inhalation and movement showed up to the ER. She said she had pain in her left shoulder that developed while she was watching TV at 2 am. She had no past medical history, though a cardiac test showed spontaneous coronary artery dissection. Such was responsible for 0.1 to 0.4 percent of all acute coronary syndrome (or heart attack).
On further questioning, she said she had four children. She was a real zebra. What was strange about this case was that she was a very young patient. Young people do not usually have “heart attacks.” The symptoms that she had (the sharp pain, etc.) usually suggest a non-cardiac issue. On a physical exam, she had tenderness to palpation of her chest wall which was also usually non-cardiac.
Cardiac chest pains are classically described as an “elephant on the chest,” pressure type of pain rather than a sharp pain that is always constant. Usually, they are not affected by movement or position changes and do not worsen with inspiration. Also, usually, there is no tenderness on palpation. The Emergency Department physician ordered a troponin and the EKG.
The troponin is what is referred to as a cardiac enzyme. It’s a marker that is specific for the heart tissue, so if there is an elevation, it suggests damage to the heart. The EKG measures the electrical activity of the heart and ST segment elevations are “usually” a sign of heart damage. There is a specific procedure that happens when there is an elevation of the troponin and EKG changes.
A person is taken to the heart catheterization lab where they pass a wire through usually the leg veins to investigate the blood vessels of the heart. I’m not an expert in this field, so my knowledge is limited in this area, but what the cardiologist found was a tear in the left anterior descending artery (one of the major arteries of the heart) after performing this procedure.
I’m in residency training right now so I work under a supervising doctor (referred to as an attending physician). He’s been practicing medicine for over 20 years, and yet he’s never seen a case of spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). And I figured I will perhaps never see a case like this again since the incidence of SCAD is approximately 0.1 to 0.4% of all heart attacks.
There are few risk factors for developing this condition. I asked the patient a lot of questions about her past after she was diagnosed and found out that the only risk factor she had at the time of my questioning was a history of four births, with the last child being born about two years prior.
47. Quack Doctor, Quack Advice
Some years ago, we had this patient who was diagnosed with breast cancer at an early stage—it was pretty treatable and she wouldn’t even need a mastectomy or chemo; just a lumpectomy plus radiation. Well, after some “advice” she got from some “holistic healer,” she backed up on the surgery and refused any of our recommended treatments.
Apparently, her healer had told her cancer was “the result of keeping a grudge on things and medical treatments were a scam that were colluded with the big pharma. Her whole care team tried to put some sense in her head to no avail. Even the head of surgery tried to convince her, the social workers, the priest of the hospital chapel…yet she still said no.
Fast forward a year and a half or so later—she came back to the ER with a startlingly elevated temperature. The smell gave it away. Her breast was no longer there…it was just an open bleeding mass, producing pus and filled with maggots. She went to the ER after her husband begged her for it, and she was still convinced her “healer” could cure her. Unfortunately, the scans showed that it had already spread everywhere.
She passed a month later. She was 35 and left three small kids and a heartbroken husband behind.
48. One Way To Get Revenge
It was my duty as an intern doctor in the ER. At around 3 pm, a huge crowd rushed in with a guy on a stretcher. I could see his clothes were totally drenched in blood and I hurried towards them. Well, I almost gasped when I saw what had happened. His private part was NOT intact and it took me a few seconds to finally grasp what I was seeing before I could start assisting the senior doctor.
The whole time I kept wondering how it happened. It came out in the newspaper the next day that the guy’s girlfriend from his extramarital affair was responsible when he told her that he wanted to end their affair. Sad life.
49. The Big Heave
This happened to my brother while he was in med school. One day a guy strolled into the emergency room with the most extreme injury ever: He had the handle of a butcher knife sticking out from under one of his eyes. They did an X-ray on him and found that the whole knife was indeed in there, sticking into his skull.
Neurological tests also indicated that he was really lucky, as the knife didn’t do any serious nerve or brain damage. After some debate, they decided to pull the knife out, but it was really stuck. Eventually, they laid the guy on his back, the ER doc took off his shoe, climbed up on the gurney, put his foot on the patient’s forehead, and heaved the knife out.
They put the guy on the ward and the next morning, the authorities showed up to ask him about it. The guy just said, “Never mind, I’ll take care of it.” The next day, while no one was looking, the guy got up and walked out. For people who didn’t show up for their yearbook photo, they substituted the X-ray of the guy with the knife in his head.
50. Well That’s Horrifying
I had a kid come in with a lesion in the back of her head. Her hair was a mess, and she had two wounds. I immediately suspected foul play. In hindsight, that was naïve of me—I should have had that diagnosis by the smell alone. That was severe neglect, which can be far more damaging. I picked up my flashlight to better observe what was a yellowish looking wound, and as soon as light touched the wound, the kid started screaming.
Weirder still: the wound started moving. If anyone had washed that kid’s head in the last six months, she would not have had myiasis in her head. FYI, the final count was around 135 larvae.