Medical professionals have to deal with all kinds of people, and some of the worst are patients that undermine their own treatments! Whether these are people who lie to their doctors or who just blatantly ignore instructions, here are 50 patients who absolutely infuriated their doctors!
1. A Corny Problem
Part of my job is dealing with medical records. My favorite part is when you are reading the doctors' notes and you can tell they are fed up with the patients from their tone. I can remember one that made me laugh out loud: “Patient in for routine colonoscopy, asked if solids consumed in 24 hrs prior, patient confirms no. In process of procedure, several dozen kernels of corn are discovered in colon and cannot continue. Patient specifically instructed not to consume corn beforehand as this happened during prior visit.”
2. I Can’t Move My Legs
One dude lied about being paralyzed after a lumbar puncture. I got a call from a nurse telling me that the patient says he can’t move his legs following a lumbar puncture. I called the team that did the procedure; they assured me there was no indication of this sort of injury happening during the procedure, but agreed with my plan to get an urgent MRI.
I go to examine him, and the nurse says she thinks he moved one of his feet. Next thing I know he says he can actually move his legs again, but they are feeling weird. Then this weird feeling turns into intense pain. Then comes the kicker: He asks for intravenous narcotics. I tell him no because this story makes no sense. By God, it was a miracle I tell you when this man walked himself right out of the hospital after I refused the narcotics.
Also, the MRI was normal.
3. The Same Thing Again?
This was one of my favorite things that I wrote during my first year out of medical school: “Please note patient has stated multiple times that he wants to leave and would leave against medical advice. He asked multiple times whether he could eat, stating he is hungry. Explained to patient that we would like to start a full liquid diet first and if he tolerated it well, would transition to regular foods."
But that was just the start.
“The patient ordered Chinese food delivery instead. Then, patient was complaining of a headache. Was given Tylenol for the headache. Patient stated that this did not help him. His sister at bedside went to the nearby pharmacy and bought aspirin. Sister did ask whether she could give him aspirin and she was told not to give it to the patient. She supposedly did not.”
And the cherry on top?
The patient had a catastrophic GI bleed...from taking too much aspirin.
4. I Have No Idea
I had a lady tell me she had no idea how she got a rash she had on her face. I left the room, gave a report to the MD, and when I walked back in with the doctor, she looked at me and said “I didn’t think you’d be coming back in the room”. She then proceeded to confess her dark secret. She’d been cheating on her husband and thought she had herpes. She did not have herpes.
5. A Greasy Liar
I’m a medical school student. Not a big deal, but a patient lied to me about what she had eaten. She was obviously having some problem with her gallbladder. Typically, this pain can be caused by greasy food. So, I asked the patient what she had eaten before she got this pain. Patient said she only ate a salad with very little ranch, that’s it.
I even explained how greasy food can cause this pain but she’s adamant she only ate a salad. Anyways, I report back to my attending and we see her together. The attending asked her what she ate. Her response made me want to scream. The patient said salad...then adds she also ate a burger! It wouldn’t have changed the plan but why lie??
6. A Lesson In Loneliness
There was a patient that was a really kind old man who always would talk a lot with us, telling stories, praising the beauty of everyone in a tender and respectable way, saying how really grateful for our work he was, and so on...Said old man would always appear with really high blood pressure values, even though he would swear that he always used his medication correctly.
After we made so many changes with his medication in many different ways, it's only natural to think that there was some problem with how he was taking them, if he was doing it at all. However, one day, I noticed something bizarre was happening. He would always go to the bathroom before even reaching out to the receptionist, someone discovered he would always eat a load of pure salt before being seen by any of the doctors, trying to make his pressure intentionally go sky high.
Later, we also discovered that he indeed would not take his medications correctly as well, in order to obtain this result again and again. But the reason why broke my heart. Turns out he suffered a lot from loneliness, and he was an old man that didn't had much contact with his family anymore, but mostly because his family didn't reach out to him at any time, even though everyone lived close by.
And in his desperation, sustaining dangerous high blood pressure was the best way he had to obtain human contact, with an emergency every week. This was the oddest one, but it's really common in general among elderly patients to appear lying about their symptoms, only trying to gather some attention and a private minute to speak about anything else.
Most of the time they book an appointment only to talk about recent trivialities, which makes them clearly better, although by the end of the talk, it's also easy to see how they gather back part of the sadness that the loneliness brings to them. Around my patients, at least, it's common for many to cry as they leave. Loneliness is both a simple and complex problem...And one that no one should be bound to live with...
7. An Unfortunate Cut
My dad is a physician and has a million funny stories. He told me this one from a few decades ago. He had a patient come into the ER with a towel over his groin, covered in blood. Claimed he was cutting vegetables in his kitchen and slipped. Dad takes a look and the guy is butchered down there. It was like a horror movie. I had to call a urologist in the middle of the night to consult.
Guy eventually confesses to trying to give himself a circumcision because he didn't want to pay the $200 it would have cost. The urologist was able to help save him, but it cost a lot more than $200 for emergency surgery.
8. A Hairy Situation
I’m a nurse. We had a patient come into the operating room for brain surgery. Probably a mid-50s guy with a nice head of light brown hair. Before a patient comes into the actual OR, we ask them a series of questions, including whether they have any implants, jewelry, non-hospital clothes on, etc. The guy says no to all the questions.
After the patient gets put to sleep, the surgeon grabbed his hair to start shaving it off (because you know, brain surgery), and he got a horrifying surprise: All his hair peeled off because he was wearing a wig and didn’t tell us! We almost shaved his hairpiece because he wouldn’t admit to anyone that he was wearing one.
9. There Was That One Thing
I had parents bring their 3-year-old son to the emergency department for one month of abdominal pain that kept getting worse. I ask all the routine questions for this complaint, lots of questions about his poop...is it bloody? Diarrhea? Mucous? When was his last bowel movement? Any changes in the stool? They deny any other concerning symptoms but abdominal pain.
We do bloodwork, ultrasound, an X-ray...everything comes back completely normal, but the kid is intermittently screaming in pain, curled in a ball. Over the next five hours, I continue to repeat the same questions, I asked repeatedly if there was anything else going on that they could think of...nope. The kid just doesn’t seem well but we have no reason to keep him, we decide to watch him a little longer, let him eat.
The kid eats a bunch, a PBJ, apple juice, crackers, popsicle, with no pain, so we decide to send them home. I bring in the discharge paperwork and I’m about to start going over instructions, and the dad drops a bombshell: “You know... or the past three months, he’s had A LOT of worms in his poop.”
WORMS. You spent 6+ hours denying worms. I literally just turned around and walked out of the room without saying a word. I was laughing almost to the point of tears and could not wait to tell my resident. Deworming medications, a load of wasted time, and they were on their way.
10. Follow My Instructions!
I'm a pediatric dentist, and this one throws me for a loop every time I share it. When I sedate kids, they aren't allowed to eat for eight hours before, so I always ask if they had anything to eat or drink in the morning. Parents never want to admit their kid ate or drank, even when I remind them it's very important because if they vomit and aspirate, they could die.
Often, they try to minimize it and say it was just a few bites, but one kid walked in eating a bag of Cheetos at reception and then the parent insisted to me that they hadn't eaten. Yeah, I'm 100% not sedating your child today.
11. A Great Actress
We had this lady that came into the ER at least once per month usually with chest pain. She had seen multiple specialists and had her heart/lungs/GI system examined in almost every conceivable way. One night she comes in with sudden onset blindness. Not her first time with this complaint either. Last time, she got a trip to the retina specialist.
When I examine her I walk around her bed and she tells her friend to get her feet off the chair so I can get by. She plays it off supercool by adding “If you have your feet up like you always do”. I don't think she noticed my eye roll. Then, the neuro exam. I have her touch her nose, then touch my finger. Her idea of how a blind person would perform this exam is to touch her nose then wobble her hand from side to side as she touched the end of my finger.
She also made near-constant eye contact as we talked. I would ask a question and start moving while she talked and she would follow my eye perfectly. She was extremely relieved to find out she had conversion disorder and that her sight would be back soon.
12. The Evidence Is Right There
I'm a gastroenterologist. I do upper endoscopies all the time. Somehow, there are people out there who think they can get away lying about whether they've eaten since midnight, before a procedure that will literally stick a camera into their stomach. Now, some people have gastroparesis and old food residue will be present in the stomach, but I've literally seen fresh, chewed-but-identifiable bacon and eggs hanging out in the stomach. In addition to probably making it a lot harder to diagnose whatever we were doing the endoscopy for, it’s also a HUGE risk for aspiration events, which can be lethal.
13. The Young Woman?
I'm just a med student, but a doctor shared this with us during class. She's a gynecologist, and this woman came to her complaining about how she hasn't gotten her periods in a few months and well, she was showing menopausal symptoms. In fact, she looked almost 50, but she kept saying she was only 30 and she can't have menopause.
Funnily enough, when the doctor asked if the women had a kid, she said “Yes, he's 27 years old". I don’t know why people lie about their age, but this was a funny story for the whole class.
14. A Cold Tap
I had a patient that came in because he was peeing blood with a previous history of bladder cancer. I ordered a urine sample and told the patient I would start working him up after confirmation. The lab called, and told me the urine sample looked like straight-up water and was cold, as if he just opened the tap and filled it up.
I called the patient, dumbfounded. At first he denied it, but later came clean and said he couldn’t urinate so he filled it with water. No clear reasoning why. Long story short, he actually did have cancer.
15. Cracking My Spine
There was a 60-year-old male hospitalized for an infection following a spinal fusion. He had surgery to remove the infected hardware, had a neck brace to stabilize his spine, and a treatment plan that says to keep it on 24/7 for four weeks. It has been 16 days and he removed it Sunday night. When confronted, he told me that he had cleared it with his surgeon and told them he had removed it.
He had not. I explained that he has an extremely unstable spine and the wrong move could result in irreversible quadriplegia, to which he responded, “I don’t think that’s going to happen. Even if there’s an explosion I’ll hold real still.” On the phone with his sister, shouting into the speaker, he said, “Well I took it off because it was so uncomfortable, at first my neck was really stiff, but I shook my head a few times and something in there broke loose. It feels much better now.”
His nurse and I stared at each other in silent horror.
16. Just A Typical Day
Had a patient show up in the ER with a wound to the back of her head. I say, “Hey Ms., what happened?” She responded, “I don’t know, I picked up chicken from the gas station and went to bed. And this morning I noticed I was bleeding”. I start inspecting the wound. Looks like it tracks pretty far, and there’s this strange cotton-like material sticking out that is also tracking too deep to visualize.
I press her some more about the circumstances because my ER Doc spider-sense starts going off. “Were you assaulted? Did someone harm you? Were you in a car accident? Did something fall on you?” She just kept saying “No. I just went to bed. Maybe I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom” Finally I decide to send her through the Donut Of Truth to get a CT scan of her head before me and my trusty scalpel start seeing where this trail of mystery cotton leads. That's when I saw it.
The lady had a bullet lodged up against her skull bone. I still don’t have an answer to the cotton, but I’m guessing it was fired through some cloth. When I told her she had a bullet in her head, her response was “Oh. Weird.” And then she went back to playing candy crush on her phone.
17. You Never Said Anything!
I recently had a patient double down to the point of yelling that I never told her to stop her aspirin for a lung biopsy. During our clinic visit, she told me she didn’t think she took it anymore, but I reiterated it multiple times including asking her to check if she took a brand name and wrote it in my clinic note in two separate places that we’d discussed it.
Sure enough, she arrives and says yes, she takes it and no one told her to hold it for five days! Yes ma’am, we did. She says, “Well, it’s Monday, our clinic appointment was Friday, how would that make any sense that you told me?” Ma’am, the appointment was just last Wednesday.
18. What Are You Fishing For?
Resident doctor here, this happened during my psychiatry rotation in medical school. There was a patient at an inpatient psychiatric facility for suicidal ideation. She constantly insisted that she had a mass on her chest and demanded to be physically examined only by male doctors. When the psychiatrist I was rotating under declined to perform a physical exam, she asked me to do it during my daily patient interview.
I also declined the physical exam, but had a bit of a hunch to check her medical records. It turned out she had an ultrasound done a week before that found only normal tissue without masses. However, apparently this this lady had frequented many doctor's offices with various complaints of an unspecific nature and would usually focus on particular complaints when she visited male physician's offices.
We diagnosed her with factitious disorder, formerly known as Munchausen syndrome, and histrionic personality disorder. It seems her goal was mostly attention from medical professionals, but we also had to be careful to make sure she wasn't fishing for a lawsuit. Patients like her are why doctors document everything meticulously.
The patient wouldn't admit to making things up all the time. According to the psychiatrist I was working with, she didn't believe any of her "health problems" existed and her primary goal was the attention from medical professionals. If she actually believed she was sick, we would have diagnosed her with illness anxiety disorder, commonly known as hypochondria.
19. An Impressive Secret
In the ER at 4 am, a teenage girl and her parents arrive. She has been constipated for days and no poop has come out at all. I was busy, so I ask the nurse to check if the patient indeed has poop and needs an enema. So, a rectal exam is needed. Welp, we were in for a shock. A few minutes later, the nurse urgently calls me. When we uncovered the girl, we just saw this cute little head popping out. A baby on the way.
We asked why she didn’t tell us, but she kept saying "I'm not pregnant" even while I was cutting the umbilical cord. She somehow lied to her parents through the whole pregnancy, even though she lived with them. I had to explain everything to the parents. They didn't have a clue, and judging by their face, I believed them.
Years ago, two firemen that were injured on the job were admitted to our unit. Both shared a room since we did not have private rooms, and they wanted to be together. The firemen thought they will play a trick on the nurse, so they switched beds and went by the other's name. The nurse was doing the vitals, assessments, and starting an IV on the one fireman and documenting it into the chart.
She was ready to administer the medications, and looked down at his hospital band, realizing that this was not the correct fireman. He was going to take it too. Both firemen were smirking like school kids. The nurse was so mad, saying how dumb they were, and began to lecture them for their childish game. The fireman was going to take the other patient's blood pressure meds when he did not have a history of high blood pressure.
21. The Best In The World
I used to work in physical therapy. I had an extremely sedentary patient in her mid-50s who had a body type out of a Tim Burton film. Think like an apple on two toothpicks. She told me that when she was in the military in her 20s, she was the strongest person on her post. She said she could bench press 500 lbs. She said she was 135 lbs when she could do this.
After I told her the world bench press record for that weight class for women was 300, which is incredibly impressive, I offered that maybe she forgot and was thinking 225-250, which would still be incredible. No, she doubled down. She proceeded to tell me that she could leg press 900 lbs, and overhead press two men sitting on a 2x4. For the record, this lady didn't even know how to perform a bodyweight squat in a pool with correct form.
22. To Get A Doctor’s Note
My patient presented over several months with recurrent huge abscesses that we couldn’t explain. She was in horrible pain and had to stop working. We tested for everything. Eventually, her husband told me he made a chilling discovery: She had syringes in her medicine cabinet. We think she was injecting herself with fecal matter. When the syringes were found, she stopped coming to her appointments.
I think she has Münchausen syndrome. She wanted the attention from being sick. I started getting suspicious when she always would get a new abscess before any court dates for her personal issues, and needed a doctor's note to get out of it. She denies everything, and it’s very hard to have someone committed unless they are acutely suicidal.
23. The Pain Meds
When I was a medical student, we had a patient on one of my rotations that was getting oral pain meds but insisting that we switch them to a stronger IV pain medicine because they had been getting nauseous and vomiting up all their meds. When our team rounded on the patient to check on them, we walked into the room and were quickly greeted by an eager patient that had been waiting to show us their vomit bag.
Turns out that it was filled with a lovely mixture of liquids and topped off with a handful of pills the patient had thrown in there to make it look like they couldn’t keep the meds down. When we called them out, the patient was in total denial and tried to reason with us that it must be vomit since it was in the vomit bag.
24. A Sore Subject
I was in med school and an elderly patient was admitted to the medicine ward. She had these pressure ulcers and sores on her skin which develop in persons that are bedridden, and can't move on their own, so the skin gets "sandwiched" between the mattress and their own bones, causing ulceration. Her daughter, an adult woman, tried to convince me those sores developed because her mother had been waiting a couple hours in the ER until everything was ready to get her to her hospital bed.
A few days later, I listen in on the daughter talking to the head of medicine and the doctor in charge of her mother's case, about treatment options and whatnot. The following morning, I do my rounds and when asking about the patient, this woman goes "the other doctors told me there was nothing to do for her!" and I wanted to say, "No lady, they told you exactly what they were gonna do for her."
But since I was the student, I had to keep quiet and nod.
25. A Hairy Problem
A patient came into the lab for a KOH and culture for his "bumps", which were itchy around his inner thigh. We collected his KOH—a fungal test—and a bacterial culture, as his dermatologist wanted to figure out what was wrong. We're in a pretty big international hospital down in South East Asia, so we get all kinds of consults, including those who can pay for stuff that they don't need and coerce doctors into prescribing.
This particular patient didn't actually have "bumps", but his legs were really hairy and you could tell he had bad personal hygiene, so we figured he was a hypochondriac. Nothing pointed to bugs either. He was hysterical with the receptionists and doctors who spoke to him. His KOH came back negative and he started harassing and chasing people at the lab by pulling his pants up and showing his "itchy" inner thighs.
When we told him we collected the samples already and it was his doctor that was going to prescribe meds, he did Dr. Google on himself and tried to make us collect more for his pending culture (it doesn't work that way). We outright refused so he disappeared for a couple of minutes and he came back with wounds all over his inner thighs telling us we missed it and it was our fault.
They were clearly scratch marks he inflicted on himself for attention as he was making a scene. In the end, he barged into the laboratory demanding his "positive" results for his bacterial culture as he insisted the lab could prescribe him antibiotics.
26. I’m Eating Enough, I Swear!
My mom lies to doctors all the time about the stupidest things like how much she exercises, and how much help she requires at home. She lies and says she can move around fine on her own even though it's not uncommon for me to have to help her to the bathroom supporting her the whole way. She does this because she doesn't want to be chewed out for her poor decisions.
For example, she's just been diagnosed with cancer, needs stents in her heart and renal arteries because they are barely getting blood into them, and her kidney function is dropping scarily low. The problem? She currently weighs 67lbs, and the doctors refuse to perform surgery on her and the anesthesiologists all adamantly refuse to put her under until her weight is high enough.
She barely eats, but lies to her doctors about how she's eating a bunch and doesn't know why she's not gaining weight. It's not uncommon for her to eat less than a single bun with some lunch meat on it in a 3- or 4-day period. I don't know what to do anymore. She insists to us, her family, that she's eating plenty and she'll gain weight. As her full-time caregiver, I have tried to explain to her that she simply will not gain any weight until she is out of a calorie deficit for a sustained period of time.
That is just basic biology, but she refuses to accept that and will either outright deny that she's not eating enough or will get so abrasive that it makes anyone in the family trying to talk to her about it back off because they don't want to deal with her.
27. A Hole In One
My little brother was a nurse for about a decade. He has said many times that people stick anything up their butts. From lightbulbs to hairbrushes to a golf shoe. And at first, it's hilarious. Then, after a year or so it's not funny because you've seen way too many cases. Then, after a decade or so, it starts to get funny again because you think you've seen everything, and then one day a 45-year-old man is driven to the hospital by his wife.
He has a golf shoe lodged inside him and he told his wife that he and the boys were golfing, he slipped in the locker room and it got rammed up there, completely disregarding the fact that the part of the shoe that is inside him is covered in Vaseline...
28. Lying About That?
I have a friend who I took to the ER because he was upset a girl he liked rejected him. He was a little unsteady, and we were at a party. He punched the brick wall in the basement and gashed his hand open. I was surprised he didn’t break anything. Anyway, because he was drinking and I wasn’t, I drove him. I figured it would be an uninteresting visit, but then he straight up lied to the ER nurses about his hand saying he got in a fight and he cut his knuckles open on the teeth of the other guy.
I just shook my head with disbelief and they explained to him how he’d need antibiotics now.
29. They’re Healthy Oils!
Many years ago, I was working as an assistant to an occupational therapist. We got a call out to help mobilize a woman who had been morbidly obese and was told to lose weight. We learned from the daughter she had gained weight, but her mother would refuse to come clean about what she was eating. All the daughter knew was that her mother may have been eating deep-fried food due to the vast amounts of cooking oil she found in the pantry.
When we arrived, she had gained an extra six kilos but insisted she had lost weight. She did not look it. Before we began mobilizing her and checking her living room for trip hazards because she also had horrendous knees. We took a look at the pantry. Olive oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, any kind of common cooking oil you can find off a supermarket shelf, she had it. A vast stockpile of oil. I'd never seen anything like it.
We asked what she was frying with the oil. She insisted that she wasn't frying anything and that she was eating healthily since the oils she used were "healthy". We had to explain to her that oils are still fatty and will still contribute to weight gain. After a bit of poking around the pantry, I noticed that for the amount of oil she had, she had very little in food that could be traditionally fried.
She also had little in other foodstuffs that could explain the obesity. I brought it up with the therapist and the therapist then demanded the truth. We couldn't provide complete healthcare until we knew everything. That's when the truth finally came out: She admitted that she thought healthy oils would help her lose weight and suppress her appetite so she had taken to drinking the bottles of oil whenever she got hungry.
Needless to say, we disposed of most of the bottle of oil and set her up for a home visit with a dietitian.
30. The Small Mass
A middle-aged man enters ER in sweatpants. He worked as an accountant but was currently unemployed. He tells me that a urologist had diagnosed him with inflammation of his epididymis three years earlier, but he hadn't followed through on the treatment, and that he now wanted to get things taken care of.
During the physical exam, I see a grapefruit-sized mass. It was not subtle in any way. I call in urology and order a CT scan. I tell the guy that this isn't inflammation, it is a tumor and we need to do more tests to find out what type of tumor. He stops me and tells me he didn't understand what I had said, could I please repeat it. Then he pulls out a pad of paper and writes down my exact words and sits there staring at the words for a few minutes.
I just felt sorry for the guy.
31. A Stupid Challenge
A few years ago, I had one kid, maybe 16 or 17, who evidently had heard of a challenge where you can fully insert a lightbulb into your mouth, but when you try to pull it out, you can’t open your jaw wide enough and the bulb shatters inside. Well after about three hours of picking glass from out of his mouth, I asked what went down, and he just would not admit that he put the lightbulb in his mouth.
His main story was that his friend must have slipped it in his mouth when he was sleeping and punched him in the jaw, however upon talking to this friend in another room, he confessed that the boy had tried to beat the challenge, his friend even showed me videos of other people trying it. So, I go back in with the patient and bring his guardians in, in this case an aunt and uncle, and explained the whole lightbulb challenge without giving his friend up.
When asked what I was talking about, I explained and said there are many videos on the internet about the exact thing I’m talking about. They also revealed that he had tried several dangerous stunts and challenges before, but even still the stubborn teenager wouldn’t admit a thing; he was adamant that he had absolutely no part in his injury and that everyone was out to get him.
It’s just crazy to me how arrogant and thick-headed some people will get, they’ll do anything before admitting to doing something that stupid and short-sighted.
32. That’s Not Yours...?
I had a first job out of school doing Medicaid risk assessment for insurance companies. I basically had to do complete family/social extensive reviews, complete PE and head-to-toe, and make any new preliminary dx and referrals for the insurance company in 60 minutes... It was very taxing but it definitely helped me hone my skills in getting information from patients quickly and efficiently and especially with my charting, but that's a different issue.
I have this one patient, and doing my thing getting their family history, etc, and we get to substance use. I normally get pretty good disclosure about obvious things, especially if they are being treated for things like alcoholism. I get to smoking history and expect to hear 20 PPD for 15 years, given the smell in the house and the opened blunt on the table that was pretty clearly going to be rolled before I arrived.
This woman with a 10-month-old on her lap looks me in the eye and says no to all smoking history. I stop and look at her in the eye and say, “Are you absolutely sure? What's this?” I point to the opened blunt. She says “Yeah, that's not mine.” I ask “You have roommates?” She only says no. Oh. Ok.
I had gone over my self-imposed time limit on that charting section so I just wrote down 'no' in the chart and had her referred. I wasn't about to argue with a woman who couldn't admit an issue so clearly right in both our faces.
33. Just Practice
I’m a med student. I went to see a patient for my practice physical. These are all volunteers and we don’t get charts or anything, just a slip of paper with their name and chief complaint. I walk into the room and this older gentleman is holding his cup of coffee and didn’t shake my hand, which threw me off guard. Then I noticed one of his hands was much weaker and kind of scrunched up and he didn’t move it.
So, I asked him about it and he was like, “Nah it’s fine. See?” and proceeded to move it like a 1/2 inch. It clearly was not fine. I’m sweating now, because these are mainly just opportunities to talk with patients and they’re supposed to be a breeze, but this guy looks like he had a stroke and had no idea. Turns out he was just messing with me, but I was ready to call in a real doctor because I was freaking the heck out!
34. Seeing The Problem
Optician here. A few days ago, a man called asking if he could see an optometrist asap. I told him we had no spots left and asked him what seemed to be the problem. He told me he felt he had an eye infection and it's been four days since he can't see properly from his left eye. Sometimes, clients can complain of overtearing or swollen eyelids but no...
He told me part of his field of vision was off for the past four days. We have indicators that tell us if we are dealing with an emergency worthy of being sent directly to the hospital for emergency intervention from the ophthalmology department and this was clearly it. I told him he has to go to the emergency room. NOW. He tells me he has a busy shift at work and is a supervisor.
I told him again to go to the hospital ASAP and to take it seriously. He tells me that he can't because his day will be scrapped. I told him to stop putting work over health and that this needed to be dealt with now. He still argues with me and tells me that he doesn't feel like waiting in the emergency room for hours. I insist that he must go. He then tells me he'll go after his day's shift!
I tell him to cut it out and GO!! He then asks me if it's an emergency and to tell him what he has. Given that I'm not allowed to give any diagnosis by the phone I told him to hurry to the hospital. He told me he would and I'm pretty sure he stuck to his plan of finishing the day. Retinal detachment can usually be treated if noticed quickly.
35. I Want To Stay
I’m not a doctor, but I work in the hospital. We have a regular at the ER. She comes every single day - she figured out that we can’t send her home before a doctor examines her if she complains of trouble breathing or chest pains. So she always does this. No ward wants her to come there and no doctor wants to be responsible.
She’s super manipulative, treats the nurses horribly, and is very demanding. She is an addict and usually wants more drugs and someone to take care of her like she’s at the Hilton. Her goal every visit is to get admitted. She succeeded a few days ago when there was some issue with her colostomy bag. To avoid being sent home, she smeared poop in her IV trying to cause sepsis, just to stay at the ward.
36. Leaving Out The Details
Massage therapist here. During an intake, I always ask, "Any medications, surgeries, or medical conditions?" Even when they have a full detailed paper intake, I always ask this question verbally as well. It's amazing what people won't tell me, but this one guy stood out... I get to his lower back and there's a medical device on the table. It scared the heck out of me, I just was not expecting to bump into something.
I asked him what it was, and he said "Oh that's my insulin pump, it doesn't matter." Not only did you not tell me you have diabetes, which absolutely matters, but you have a pump attached to your body and on my table?! I 100% needed to know that! I'm touching your whole body, yes I need to know if things are inserted into it!
37. The Colostomy Bag
I work with people occasionally in a hospital, and one day, I was sent to pick up a woman for transport to a different facility and she was being treated a host of different things. She has complained of a lot of pain in the area where her colostomy bag was attached. Long story short, she was diagnosed with a host of things wrong with the stoma and the doctors were all guessing how she had gotten some of those complications.
She eventually admitted to me and the rest of the room that men would pay extra money to make sweet love to the hole where her colostomy bag was attached. What??
38. A Snack For My Stomach
One patient will haunt me for the rest of my life. This 360lb woman was wheeled in complaining of severe stomach pain and itching. They took her in and started examining and asking questions; as she’s talking about the area that’s in pain, they lift up a heavy roll of fat and there were two twinkies squished in there all moldy and almost necrotic smelling, it was apparently there for nearly two months. Want to know what was inside those twinkies? Maggots.
There were hundreds of them. All of her pain was caused by the maggots trying to burrow into her necrotic skin. We believe she put the Twinkie there so they would eat the Twinkie and not her necrotic tissue. She denied that she put/left them there and “has never eaten a Twinkie in her life”. She kept going on and on about someone had stuffed them there while she was asleep.
39. The Cat Lady
I heard this one second hand in residency. A woman had a gangrenous toe that had to be amputated. When I say that it had to be amputated, that means that if it wasn't amputated she would get septic, so it really pretty much had to be amputated. Anyway, she kept refusing, and nobody could really figure out why.
Long story short, it turns out that she was concerned that if she had a surgery and had to stay in the hospital, then nobody would feed her cat, so she didn't want to do it and abandon her cat to starvation. Once this was clear, then they arranged a cat feeding service of some kind and she did the surgery. That's how I remember the story, anyway.
Obviously, she wasn't thinking it through too well, because if anything serious happened, she wouldn't be able to feed her cat anyways...
40. What A Plan
A 16-year-old came in with their mum with lacerations all over his face and shoulder. He told me somebody threw a bottle at him from a moving car. I was treating the cuts and stitching his chin and he quietly mentioned his arm hurt. I took his jumper off and his arm was purple and swollen. I asked what really happened.
He was drinking with his mates in a park and they forced his hand into a piece of PVC pipe to use as a baseball bat to hit beer bottles. They hit a few bottles and he cut his face in spite of the precautionary baseball cap and face mask. He cut his face and wanted to take his arm out of the pipe. It was stuck. His friend had the great idea of backing his Suzuki Swift ever so delicately over the pipe to crack it.
Except he reversed over his arm. They got the pipe off though, which probably also stopped his forearm from popping like a sausage.
41. Worse Than He Thought
I’m a paramedic rather than a doctor, but definitely had some fun times. I once lifted a joyrider out of a garden who'd stolen and crashed a bike, tried to run away, then collapsed after hopping over the nearest wall when he realized he was actually quite messed up. Lying there in someone's flowerbed, he had a really nice handlebar-shaped bruise on his pelvis.
As we're wheeling him away from the scene, with the assistance of some police, I ask him how fast the bike was going when he came off. "What bike?" he replied.
42. Find My Phone!
One of my coworkers was a student nurse on our surgery floor at the time. She had this patient who called out saying the student nurse had stolen or lost her phone. She kept insisting and it got to the point that risk management was getting ready to be called because she was going to file a complaint. Student nurse swears she never even saw a phone, and didn’t know the lady even had one. Several of us went in and tore the room apart looking for it.
As patients often lose belongings in their bed linens, we began taking each blanket/sheet off and shaking them out. At this point, the lady refuses to get out of her bed so we can take off the bottom sheet and check between the mattress and bed. She suddenly is too weak to stand. So, we assume the standard position used to roll patients so a bed can be made while the patient is still in it.
The patient is first rolled to the left side where she’s facing the accused student nurse. Another coworker was on the side where the woman’s back is facing and she happens to hear a phone start ringing. We think it must be under the woman or under her mattress. Still can’t locate it and all the while she’s screaming her head off about how this hospital is going to buy her a new phone and she “ain’t accepting no cheapo generic one either.”
Upon rolling her to the other side, the student nurse sees a “black dot” on her bottom. Yep, you guessed it. Her cell phone was shoved there and the ringing we heard was her phone. No one says a word except “Oh look we found your phone.” She swears it’s not hers and that we planted it there so we wouldn’t have to buy her a new one. It was a flip phone, and the black dot was the pull-out antenna.
A pet rat bit my patient. But I only found out from their partner confronting them in front of the team, asking if the patient had told us about the rat bite. The patient looked like they wanted to hush their partner. I got to update the rat-bite fever and talk with the micro people. It wasn't actually the bite that was the problem, and the broad-spectrum antibiotics would have covered it, but was an interesting experience.
44. The Mind’s Power
My friend is a psychologist, and she had a patient refuse to admit she wasn't pregnant. That's right, wasn't. My friend was working in a very poor area of Venezuela, and this woman hadn't had any medical treatment or formal confirmation of her pregnancy. Venezuelan women don't consider themselves adults until they are mothers, so this young woman wanted to be a mother so badly she convinced herself she was pregnant.
It got to the point she had an actual psychological pregnancy that caused her to genuinely swell, getting what looked like a third-trimester belly. My friend tells me that when she finally got through to her, her belly started deflating like a balloon. The mind is an amazing thing.
45. A Couples Conundrum
This happened when I was still in med school. One time I was doing my gynecology rotations, my doctor and I encountered a 37 y/o female accompanied by her husband complaining of lower abdominal pain. After having a look at it, the cause was pretty obvious. There was a fist-size bruise on her left ischial spine (the rim of her hip) and from the looks of it, black, deep blue and a dark brown diffusely spread out, it was pretty fresh; not older than a day or two.
I had a literal brain spasm and was about to accuse the husband when my eyes met with my doctor’s. Instantly, I knew she was more qualified to handle the situation than I was and I decided to keep my mouth shut. She proceeded to examine the area, asking basic questions while carefully palpating the area. She then asked her patient to undress so that she could do an overall assessment and to get a better picture of what she was dealing with.
After some initial reluctance from the wife, her husband managed to convince her that it was in her best interest to let the doctor examine “everything”. My jaw dropped. There were bruises all over her upper abdomen, stomach, back, inner thighs, and buttocks. Her chest was practically lumps of red inflamed tissue with blotches of bluish-black. Every part of her body that could be covered with clothes was covered in bruises in different stages of healing.
I have seen my fair share of gruesome things, but this one image has stuck with me. My doctor was also noticeably disturbed by what she saw and asked how she managed to injure herself. To my astonishment, the woman claims she slipped from the stairs and fell down a flight of stairs and hit herself on the handrail.
This woman had tracks along her back which were definitely inflicted by a belt of sorts. And even after a good 20 minutes of going over most of her injuries, she wasn’t ready to claim otherwise. Meanwhile, her husband grew more and more restless and there was a worried look on his face. The doctor then asked both me and the husband to leave, as she needed to do a gynecological examination and she needed to do it alone with the patient.
If you ever did your rotations in medschool, you know that doctors almost never ask students to leave as we somewhat become a part of the ambiance. Always there and learning. I instantly realized she needed to establish trust with the patient one-on-one and needed the patient to be comfortable. I head out along with the husband, and we both stood on opposing ends of the corridor.
The husband, now visually disturbed, seemed to want to talk to me. I thought to myself “Serves him right.” After about five minutes of awkward silence, he finally decides to move closer to me and says “Hey! Can I speak with you for a minute?” I am now obviously angry at the guy and throw a quick “what?” glance at him.
“Can I say something to you that you can pass along to the doctor? I want to tell you what really happened. I just want my wife to be healthy.” Now he had my attention. He proceeded to tell me about their marriage of 11 years and how happy they were until about six months ago. That's when the truth came out. I could barely believe it. He told me that she had taken a liking to BDSM and had been increasingly asking him to inflict pain on her in various ways.
When he was outright against it, she would insult him and his parents and everything he held dear, sometimes for days at end, until he literally couldn’t put up with it and gave in to her demands. About two months ago, when he said he wanted a divorce as he was done with her, she showed him pictures of her bruises on her phone and threatened to sue him and report him.
She had effectively trapped him. But last night was worse than every other time. She apparently forced him to hit her multiple times over and over until she almost passed out. He asked for what we could do to help her heal. I looked into his eyes. He was crying where he stood. I went in and pulled my doctor aside and told her the entire story.
They did an ultrasound and found out that she had a reputed ovarian cyst and that she needed emergency surgery. She underwent an oophorectomy and the couple were referred to a psychiatrist and a couple's therapist. I don’t know what happened to them after that but I sure hope the guy got out of that relationship.
46. A Complete Betrayal
I'm a CT tech and I was to scan a woman's abdomen for belly pain. She and her girlfriend were there. I have to do a pregnancy test. I always have to have one done because I can't radiate a fetus. I even ask nuns, so there are no exceptions. She denies up and down she's pregnant, and then, after the test I did, it said she was. She denied it and demanded a blood test, since she was a lesbian and never slept with men.
Well, the blood test came back positive also. The argument that ensued was biblical. She was arguing with her girlfriend and the nurses and the doctor. I never ended up scanning her and they chalked up her pain to her being pregnant. The look on her girlfriend's face when I said it came back positive was one that I will never forget.
47. A Mountain Out Of An Anthill
A teacher once told me a story about a lady who brought her young child into the emergency department complaining that the child was "sick" from eating ants. The doctors struggled to see how that would make her sick. It wasn't until after some time and the child beginning to get very sick that the mum said she gave her own child ant poison to get rid of the ants she ate. But the stupidity didn't end there.
Then, she told the doctors it must be the ants and not the poison.
48. It’s Not Mine!!
I work in a big, busy hospital. We had a 20ish-year-old obese woman come in complaining of severe abdominal pain. Before she was even examined it became clear that she was about to give birth. Side note- my hospital does not have labor and delivery; that is at our other campus a couple of miles away. This woman proceeded to give birth to a full-term 8lb healthy boy in our ER and denied that she was pregnant.
But here's the psychotic part: She denied that the baby was hers. The placenta was still in her umbilical cord not cut, the Dr said "it's a boy!" and she said "that's not my baby!" Mmmmmmmkay. Needless to say, psych was called along with a team from the other hospital to take the baby over to their campus. I often wonder about that baby, and hope he is doing ok... Hopefully the mom put him up for adoption and he ended up with some great parents.
49. Is It Covid?
A six-year-old girl arrived at the rural hospital I was in because of shortness of breath. As it was during mid-2021, we were thinking it could be COVID, so after the first assessment and stabilization, a chest x-ray was taken. She had a 50-cent coin in her airway. When we asked the mother, she completely denied the fact that she had swallowed a coin, despite the fact we were showing her the X-ray. I felt like I was going crazy.
After a while, the grandad of the girl arrived and finally told us that indeed she had swallowed a coin but it was six months ago, and in the end, they didn't bother to check what had happened to it.
50. You’re His Mom
A mom directly lied to us about her 12-year-old’s pre-ENT surgery. We always confirm with the patient and legal guardians the pre-surgery checkup: Name, age/date of birth, any past medical history, common medication, medication taken in the last 24 hours, the surgery, and the last time they ate or drank anything.
The thing is, in the last item of the checklist, the mom lied. Her answer was "No he didn't eat anything since yesterday", and the kid confirmed. Note that it was 4 PM.
The surgery went well with no problems. When comes the time to remove the tube...the kid starts vomiting tons of rice and beans... When I say tons, I mean at least 1kg of said food. It was like nothing I've ever seen. The kid aspirates part of the food against our best efforts, and we do everything we can. Everything ends up ok, the kid survives, there were no further complications, and he recovered to full health in only two days.
When confronted about the lie, and explained how her son could have been seriously hurt, the mom said, "What could I do?! He was hungry and eats like a bull! Who am I to say he can't?" We all lost our patience and just said "YOU’RE HIS MOM!!!”