We all make mistakes. We’re only human, after all. If we’re lucky, a mistake might lead to nothing more than some embarrassment and an absolutely hilarious story—but of course, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, a tiny error can completely blow up in your face, and all you can do is face the music. From the silly to the terrifying to the tragic, read on for the internet’s best stories of when things go awry.
1. Talk About a Hot Ride
Worked at Circuit City circa 2005 installing car audio. One of my co-workers put a satellite radio in a brand-new BMW but apparently wired something wrong and the car burned to the ground. Oops!
2. Koala Love
My mum cut out an article in our local newspaper, then phoned me up to say that she had seen me in the paper and will show it to me when I see her next.
Turns out she cut-out a picture of DAVE GROHL holding a koala at a zoo and thought it was me.
3. Dearest Ex Wife
I used to work at a call center for a popular gift company. This one couple calls up and says “we need to cancel our order!” I look it up, and tell them UPS already has the order to deliver it. They tell me, “You don’t understand. We are sending this to our son and his wife. We accidentally put his ex wife’s name on the card. It will ruin Christmas if they receive this gift!!!” I was finally able to call UPS and get them to not deliver the package. Not my screw up, but dang.
4. Someone’s Work Performance Smells Fishy
I worked in a salmon processing plant in Alaska. There was a dude in his mid-20s who had worked there before, so they assigned him to run the holding tanks. The tanks were two huge (like three stories tall) tanks that stored the fish from the boats. One day, the dude thought he had drained both tanks of all the fish, so they called it a day.
We didn’t work with fresh fish for two days, when we got back it smelt like death. Turns out he hadn’t drained one of the tanks, so the fish sat in lukewarm water for three days. He destroyed about 500,000 lbs of salmon. After that, he worked in the gutting section.
5. Having Your Heart Ripped Out
My brother is a surgeon, and during part of his residency, he had to work in the pediatric unit. He was working with two newborns. One was getting much better and fighting for life. He was going to make it just fine. The other baby was hours from death. He wasn’t going to make it. My brother was in charge of informing the families.
My brother realized about 15 minutes later that he had mixed up the families. He told the family with the healthy baby that their baby wasn’t going to make it, and he told the family with the dying baby that their baby was going to be just fine. He then had to go back out to the families and explain the situation to them.
How devastating. To be given a glimmer of hope and have it ripped away from you not even an hour later. That was most upset I’ve heard my brother. He felt destroyed.
6. Getting Kidnapped
This didn’t happen to me, but on my friend’s birthday night, a man approached him and asked him “Where’s it at?” My friend had no idea what he was talking about, so they apparently had the wrong guy. They pulled out a gun and kidnapped my friend. Another guy stole my friend’s truck to search for the missing car apparently. My friend told them the car was at a 7-11, where he fled from them and told the 7-11 guy to call the cops. His truck was found shortly after.
7. Always Look Under the Pillow
One of my mentors (in life, not medicine) was telling stories from his college days when he was still an EMT and not a doctor yet. He was called to a house where the parents of an 18-year-old girl had called 911. They said their daughter was feeling really bad and having stomach pains. So they arrive on the scene, him and his partner (both still pretty new to the whole gig), and the girl is laying on the couch in the living room with a pillow covering her stomach. T
hey do standard EMT stuff and get her on a stretcher and into the ambulance. They’re on their way to the hospital when the girl starts saying she’s been shot. And what my mentor was thinking was “Oh she’s in so much pain she’s become delusional and thinks she’s been shot.” Him and his partner decide to look under the pillow, which the girl still has covering her stomach, for the first time to find a bullet wound.
She had tried to kill herself in the bathroom by shooting herself in the stomach. She used a small enough caliber where the bullet didn’t pass through her body so there was no exit wound. On top of that, her parents weren’t even aware of the wound.
8. Sorry, Mom
I was sexting my gf one day and my mom had texted during that process and I ended up replying to her message instead of my gf. I still get crap about it and it’s been about 10 years. Yep, I told my mom I wanted her to sit on my face.
9. Face-First into Unemployment (for Show)
I used to work at Chuck E. Cheese and was taking a pizza from the kitchen to the customer. At the time, it was extremely busy and there were little devils running everywhere and this lady was at the far end, so I had to zigzag through the games to get to her. So, after successfully maneuvering through a bunch of games and small children with two pizzas on my hands, I came within 10 feet of her table and thought I was home free.
Well, turns out there was a two-year-old kid crawling right in front of me. I tripped on the kid, the pizzas went flying and hit another kid, and both of the kids were crying because I stepped on one and nailed the other with pizza. And before you think this can’t get any worse, I then had to deal with the parents…that part alone still makes me shudder to this day.
After about 45 minutes of yelling at me, they pressure my manager to fire me. My manager was a cool guy so he said no, but he pulled me aside and told me he would have to pretend to go crazy on me to make the parents happy. He did and it was the finest acting I have ever seen a non-actor pull off. It even scared me for a minute.
I continued working in that hell hole for another year before I left for college.
10. So That’s How You Really Feel?
I worked at a café chain known for soups, sandwiches, and salads throughout high school. I was good friends with exactly three people. Whenever our group got to close the store, it was always a fun time. We ended up messing around a bit with the drive-thru headsets after hours while chatting and cleaning up the store. There was a particularly attractive new manager who had been hired recently and she was a bit of a hot topic between a group of high school guys.
We were unaware that the store mics and cameras ran to an app on the manager’s phone. We all got called in the next day. They didn’t fire us. Oh no, it was much worse. The manager had a good sense of humor. She made printouts of our conversation and made us repeat it verbatim to the new hot manager, who was in tears laughing at how terrible we felt. Taught us a good lesson. Good managing right there.
11. Not the Best Lie
I had just gotten my first ever job at ACE hardware and a week in, my buddies hit me up asking if I wanted to head to the beach for next week and I was like, “Yeah of course!” So I told my boss at work a family member died and I couldn’t come in the next week. So my boss called my dad who also works for the owner of the company in a different department and starts telling him, “I’m so sorry for your loss please let me know if I can do anything to help!”
And my dad was like “What do you mean? What happened?”
And he ended up telling my boss I lied about the entire thing. I still got the week off and went on the vacation but the next few days at my job were nerve-wracking to say the least.
12. Could’ve Been Worse
I think I was four or five. There was a rock quarry/gravel pit about a mile from my home that my parents didn’t want me going to because a bunch of unseemly youths hung out there. So, of course, this is where my flying experiment took place. I tied four kites to my bike and thought if I rode fast enough and then took my bike off the steepest bank of the quarry, the kites would lift me off and I’ll glide to the bottom.
Probably lucky for me, but the strings of the kite wound into the bike spokes and completely locked it, throwing me and I slid all the way down the edge of the gravel pit rather than make a measured jump. Scraped up to my elbows and from my knees down, all I could think on that painful walk home dragging my busted bike full of kites was how my mom was going to kill me.
Suffice to say, when your five-year-old walks in looking like the finale of Carrie you don’t immediately jump to punishment.
13. So Much for Due Diligence
Financial firm looking to open a crummy cash for gold place. A senior manager led the effort. Secured a property, hired staff, rigged up high-end security, secured partners to resell the gold to. Warehouses ready for storage with their own security. Millions spent. Thing is: it’s a pawn business and this guy never looked into if that was legal on the property/area he bought.
Whole thing was lost, and he was fired immediately.
14. Oh NO
Not me, but my mom. She just retired as an OB/GYN and she told me about a time early on in her career when, while not a real medical mistake, she still almost ruined the operation. She was performing a c-section I think, and she dropped her scalpel on the floor. Before she could think, she blurted out “oh crap” as a reaction.
The mother, thinking something was wrong with the baby, started panicking. It took a team of nurses, the husband, and the mother of the patient to calm her down. This was very early in her career, and she practiced for another 25 years without major incident.
15. Thank You, Facebook Robot
I was sending a porn link to my girlfriend and accidentally shared it to my facebook wall instead of in a message. I don’t know how, I must have been tired or drunk or something. We’re talking some really bad stuff here. I didn’t even realize I’d done it until the following day. I woke up to a message from Facebook telling me they’d auto-removed my post because it appeared to be spam (the message contained a link and my heart almost jumped out of my chest and ran away).
I don’t think anybody saw it, thank god. I’ve never been so grateful to a robot in my entire life.
16. That Escalated Quickly
I was sitting in my back garden with my best friend, and we’d recently acquired an air rifle. So obviously we started shooting it at things in an increasingly destructive manner—because we were 11. We shook up and banged out a can of Coke and then laughed as it went nuts spraying its contents everywhere. Then, we got a can of deodorant and it was even MORE ridiculous because it basically went bang but in a relatively harmless way.
Then we got a can of shoe polish. Turns out shoe polish is…a little bit flammable. A little bit more flammable than you might expect. The explosion set fire to my step dad’s shed. The can itself went straight up like a surface-to-air missile. Armed police arrived shortly afterwards. At the time I lived in reasonably central London, and this was in 1991, which just happened to be slap-bang in the middle of the biggest-ever spate of IRA terrorist attacks on the city and a couple of months after some IRA members had driven a motorboat up the Thames and fired mortar shells at the actual Houses of Parliament.
The bollocking we got from the police was…extreme. But it was nothing compared to the look in my mother’s eyes the whole time it was going on, because my friend and I knew that it was when the police left that things were going to get very bad indeed.
The sense of apprehension was even worse than a riot cop carrying a rifle screaming in our faces about how stupid we were. It was horrifying. We were doomed. And so it came to pass. She went absolutely mental. My mother is a mild-mannered person but not that day. Not that day. It still terrifies me to think of it almost 30 years later.
17. I Meant to Do That
My mom left my eight-year-old brother and 14-year-old me alone at home to run an errand. I don’t remember what he did, but he royally pissed me off, and I had a BAD temper as a teenager. So, I chucked a cordless phone at his face—and instantly regretted it. He started bleeding everywhere and we both panicked—I had knocked out one of his teeth!
So he ran to the bathroom to see which one, bawling the whole time. As it turns out, it was his extra tooth. He was scheduled to have it pulled a few days later. So then, the angry tears turned to grateful tears at avoiding a trip to the dentist. We did still have to call my mom, though, so that she knew why he was suddenly missing a bonus tooth.
He confirmed that he was glad I knocked it out and she went “uh… I have to think about this.” I was grounded.
18. I Spot Trouble
When I worked at Home Depot, we had a guy who was really something special. When driving a forklift during store hours, you’re supposed to have a spotter with flags guide you through the store. It’s pretty much an instant firing if you don’t. So anyway, this guy drives the forklift into the store with a pallet of cinder blocks and no spotter.
He proceeds to hit a shelf, which damages a cinder block on the bottom. He panics, realizing he damaged a $1.00 cinder block and speeds through the store on the forklift, weaving in and out of customers, and gets caught by the manager trying to dump the entire pallet of blocks down the garbage chute to cover his tracks. That was his last day.
19. Going For A Ride
I was walking into a dorm building with a friend one time, and she saw one of our friends coming into the dorm a few hundred feet behind us. She decided to scare him, so she hid behind a big pillar right near the entrance.
The guy walked through the door, and she jumped onto his back, grabbed him around the neck, and started smacking his ass, yelling “Giddyup, Cowboy!”
The guy flipped out and got my friend off of his back. It was not our friend, it was just some random, strange guy. My friend turned bright red and ran up the stairs without saying a word.
From then on, that guy would see her sometimes in the halls and say “Hi, Cowgirl” and she was always too shy to reply.
20. Burned for the Last Time
I cremated a lady too soon (I’m a funeral director). Here’s how it went down: You can’t cremate a person unless you have received a permit for that person to be cremated from the coroner/medical examiner office. Takes a few days to get one usually, and a licensed funeral director (me) has to sign the permit along with the coroner to make it valid.
So, I met with the “Smith” family, the husband and two daughters of the deceased. The daughter wanted to see her mother again before cremation took place, so I set that up for two days later. The next day was an extremely busy day. I was dealing with a very difficult family, among a million other things. I was on the phone getting yelled at by a guy over something that had nothing to do with us (the church he wanted to have his mother’s funeral at already had one scheduled for the day/time he wanted, so he was yelling at…ME, of all people) when the office secretary walks up and hand me a stack of permits to sign.
So, I’m glancing through the files to make sure we have everything we need for me to sign these permits, with the phone to my ear, being called every name in the book. I sign the permits, the secretary takes them and faxes them to the crematory, the crematory cremates the bodies. I literally sat straight up in bed at 1 am the next morning because I realized my lady whose daughter was supposed to see her again was in that stack of permits.
21. Severe Shingles
Someone else’s mistake directly affected me. I was working in Yosemite as a camp counselor, so there was no internet access or anything. I started to get a red rash on my chest, and then on the same place on my back, and it started to expand and crawl up towards my armpit. And it hurt, really, really, really bad. As if you had the worst sunburn ever and someone slapped it really hard every time you moved.
I went to see the nurse (a new nurse gets cycled in every week) and she looked at it and goes “Ohhh that’s poison oak!” I was like, really? I haven’t really gone hiking anywhere… and she assured me that it was poison oak and that I must have accidentally gotten the oils in my clothes or something. She then proceeds to rub in hydrocortisone cream into my chest and back as hard as she can.
I’m literally tearing up its so painful, and all she can say is, “I know dear, I’m sure it’s painful.” She gave me a bottle of the stuff and some antihistamine pills and told me it’d be gone in two days. It wasn’t. I couldn’t move without being in terrible agonizing pain. I returned to the nurse and told her, “I don’t think its working.” She says to me, “Oh, my brother who’s a doctor knows what it is and he doesn’t even need to see you. He says it’s something called ‘Herpes Zoster.'”
For those of you who don’t know, Herpes Zoster is Shingles. I had been living with undiagnosed shingles for like five days, and at this point the rash was the most disgusting collection of painful, pus-spewing pimples ever. Ended up getting driven to the closest clinic which is 40 minutes away, and the doctor said it was one of the most severe cases of shingles she’d ever seen. Gave me some Vicodin to put me in “feel good” mode and told me everything would disappear in three weeks.
Since that time, I have a rare complication called Post-herpetic Neuralgia in the spot where my shingles was that causes me to feel basically the same pain because my nerve endings are too screwed up in those places. Turns out Hydrocortisone cream is the worst thing you could put on shingles.
22. Wait for It
I was about nine years old shopping at Party City with my mom and four-year-old sister. We walked near an aisle full of Halloween masks, so I snuck over and put on the scariest one I could find. I waited for my mom and sister to almost reach the end of one aisle until I started a full on, intentionally loud sprint their way.
At the very last second, my sister turns around to see a demon screaming at her about six inches from her face. I’ve never seen so much true fear in someone’s eyes and I felt so awful, I had never really felt bad for picking on my younger sister until that moment. My mom was furious with me—rightfully so—and swore that she and my dad were going to scare me even worse than I scared her.
For years, I was checking around corners and terrified to take the trash out at night. I even resorted to a nightlight for far too long than I would like to admit. It wasn’t until I was about 20 years old when I finally told them that I had been afraid they were going to scare me for literally half my life. They didn’t even remember me scaring my sister at all and never made an attempt to scare me, but they had me scared for 10+ years so I think it’s safe to say that they got me back.
23. Consider Me Plucked
My first job when I was 16 was at PetSmart. I had been working there for a few months when one night I was cleaning out the bird/small animal habitat. The procedure was to haul a ShopVac into the little room and vacuum up the spilled bird food/seeds/litter. Easy peasy. So, I’m cleaning out the cage with the cockatiels in it, when one of them decides to investigate the loud sucking machine. FWOOMP. The bird is gone.
I opened up the canister, no bird. I take the hose off the tank and, bird. I used a box cutter to rip the hose in half so I could get him out. So, this freaking bird is missing feathers and is bleeding and I am hysterical. I run to my boss crying and say “IJUSTSUCKEDABIRDUPINTHESHOPVACHESGOINGTODIEIAMAHORRIBLEPERSON.” He takes one look at me, then the bird, and starts laughing.
I ended up driving him to another PetSmart that had a Banfield vet in it; he laughed and gave the bird some fluids. My coworkers named him Hoover and he lived in quarantine in the back of the store for months until his feathers came back.
24. Who Said You Have To Be An Athlete To Play Soccer?
I was wearing a Portland Timbers jersey while out running. Someone stopped their car and asked if I was one of the players. I’m 40, fat, and bald—so I didn’t think I could get away with pretending to be a professional athlete for long. So I explained that I was not.
25. Can’t Get Worse Than That
I had a nine-year-old girl brought in one night with her parents complaining of fever and respiratory distress, presenting with coughing and wheezing. The kid was really out of it and the parents were very upset. I thought it was Bronchitis, but I admitted her and ordered treatment for her fever and cough as well as throat cultures.
I was with another patient when the kid started hallucinating, sobbing and spewing everywhere. I figured it had to do with the fever, so I packed her with ice, but she died maybe a half hour after that. This wasn’t my first death, but it was one of the worst. I couldn’t tell the stiff neck since the kid was out of it. She also couldn’t tell me anything else that would point to simple or complex seizures.
She died of neisseria meningitidis. Completely wrong diagnosis. To make matters worse, we called in all her schoolmates and anyone else we could wake up just in time to see three other kids go. The rest got antibiotics quickly enough.
Probably my worst day in medicine.
26. What Momma Don’t Know About the Dryer Won’t Hurt Her
Always growing up my mom told me not to overload the dryer. It was one of those fancy expensive ones and she didn’t want it to break. For years she said this and I never took her seriously. Then one time after I moved out they had me house sit for a weekend. I brought literally all my laundry and washed it in a single load (stupid I know). Ended up breaking the dryer. They were coming home the next day (Sunday).
I went full repairman and took the entire thing apart, or at least getting the whole front off and getting into the meat of the thing. Turned out I snapped the band. Called everywhere and no one had the band. Ended up finding this random store downtown that specialized in washer and dryer repairs. Went in and bought a band similar to what I needed. Went home, put it on, and put everything back together. Took up my entire Saturday.
It’s been three years and my mom still doesn’t know. Hehe.
27. Kid’s Have the Darndest Games
When I was a kid, my friends and I used to play a game on our trampoline called “ladybug”—I don’t know why it’s called that. So, our trampoline had a safety net so you can’t fall off, but ladybug was where one person was on the other side of the net and we had to body check them off. So one day we were playing the game and I body checked the person into a ditch. They broke their arm. I thought I was gonna die.
28. The Bubble Bursts
I used to work at a corn maze with several other attractions, a mini maze (my job), a giant slide, a bounce pillow, a fishing pond. We were all teenagers, none of us really UNDERSTOOD the bounce pillow, it was just always inflated when we got there. One day it wasn’t. The guy who was stationed there thought he could figure it out himself. I heard it explode while I was getting my morning snow cone. The whole staff was replaced the next season.
29. Cruising as Cruise
I was driving a Bentley Convertible when a guy did the whacky flailing inflatable arms guy thing at me, I was very confused. When I stopped at the light he pulled up next to me and yelled: “Can I have your autograph!!!??” I said “sure” then signed a business card and handed it to him. He looked at it confused and asked: “Aren’t you Tom cruise?”
I told him “Nope, sorry” he looked like he was going to cry.
30. Saving The Day
Here is a good one I didn’t cause but “saved the day” as a resident that was surgically assisting. C-section for failure to progress and ugly looking fetal strip… all went perfect, time to take cord blood and I am to fill up the test tube… surgeon looks at it and it has one very large chunk of glass broken off of the rim (3x4cm).
There is an open abdomen in front of us with blood clots everywhere. So as safely as possible we are sticking our hands around to try and find this glass…if it is inside the abdomen the chance of even seeing it on X-ray is minimal and this will dice up this patient’s bowels/blood vessels and God knows what else. Basically, not good.
After approximately 3-4 min (felt like 10) I feel an edge of something firm just inside the edge of the incision… pull up a blood clot with the glass piece inside…didn’t go into the cavity and all is well. Surgeon said she’d buy me a drink…never did get it.
31. Druggin’ Doggie
I accidentally gave a tiny dog 10 times the amount of painkiller he was supposed to have after surgery. I was so freaked out when I realized and watched him like a hawk. He recovered from surgery just fine and probably felt pretty darn good to boot.
32. Speed Racer
I was 17 and hadn’t been driving long. My car was a super slow Saturn that I stuck a fart can on and I saw an equally slow Civic with a fart can and wanted to race him. We took off doing about 70 down a 35 like idiots when in the oncoming lane I spotted my Dad’s car, but too late. It felt like slow motion as we passed each other and made eye contact.
Immediately, I went into full panic mode and didn’t come home for hours as if I was hoping he’d forget. He didn’t bother to chase me down after that. When I got home later he was waiting at the kitchen table and my gut was in my throat. He asked for my car keys and grounded me for two weeks. He kept track of my odometer to make sure I wasn’t leaving the house while he was out.
Didn’t die, but felt like I wanted to be the emo 17-year-old I was.
33. An Incompetent River Flows Through It
I had an employee who was working night audit (hotel). I was the manager, so he called me when I was on-call and told me that a guest complained about water dripping from the ceiling in his room on the first floor. Uhhhh did you go up to check on the room above it? “No”… How long ago was this? “Like a couple hours ago.”
I’ve never flown out of bed faster. I threw on some clothes and made it to the hotel in record time. By the time I got to the second floor, I could hear a WATERFALL. The source of the water was, in fact, not the second floor. Nor was it the third floor. No, no… it was the FOURTH FLOOR. We had the water shut off earlier in the day for work that was being done on the pipes.
A guest got pissed and checked out because it took too long for the water to come back on. Apparently, they had tried to turn on the bath and didn’t think to freaking turn it off. So, the bathtub overflowed for god knows how long, flooded the room, and the room underneath it, and the room underneath that, and finally the room underneath that.
As it turns out, my idiot employee had moved someone from the room on the third floor for the same thing, but he didn’t think to check on it. Instead, he decided to call me when a second guest, now on the first floor, complained of the same thing. THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of dollars of damage.
34. Heartbreaking Experience
As an ICU nurse, I’ve seen the decisions of some doctors result in death. Families often times don’t know, but it happens more than you’d think. It usually happens on very sick patients that ultimately would have died within six months or so anyway, though. Procedural wise, I have seen a physician kill a patient by puncturing their heart while placing a pleural chest tube.
It was basically a freak thing as apparently the patient had recently had cardiothoracic surgery and the heart adhered within the cavity at an odd position. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he came to the realization of what had happened. You rarely see people accidentally kill someone in such a direct way.
35. Bumper Cars
I broke my parents’ car’s front bumper. Then, they didn’t realize right away, drove the car, and totaled it. They never knew. Win.
36. Remember That Time…
Someone had stolen a car and I went to go check it out. I’m driving behind what I think is the car. It had the same color and was the same car and the mistake I made was not matching the license plates. I pulled them over, got out of the car and realized it was my friend with his family. I re-read the license plate and I noticed they were the same except for the last letter on the plate. The last letter on the stolen car was J. The last letter on my friends was I.
I laughed it off and apologized and we went out to dinner later that night.
37. A Spoonful of Acid Helps the Medicine Go Down
I worked at a restaurant and I accidentally lost a tab of acid in someone’s food one time. Didn’t realize it fell out and it landed in the food. Of course, the food had already gone out, so I just walked out the door and went home.
38. Luckily That Tooth Was Bad Too
Dentist here. I was performing a simple extraction and preparing for the case when I didn’t realize that I had the X-ray flipped the wrong way the whole time. I was viewing the film backwards, and pulled out the wrong tooth. When I realized my mistake I started freaking out, only to find out that by some dumb luck, the tooth I extracted had to go as well.
For the record, this happened in dental school, so safe to say it was a learning experience. It was my first and very last time to make that mistake…And yes, we are doctors.
39. On Foreign Soil
I technically invaded Iran.
I was serving in the Navy during the War on Terror, on my second deployment, and was in Navigation. Our Captain was a little… eccentric? And he liked messing with people. So one night he came on the bridge in his robe and fuzzy slippers and asked me to plot out 12 nautical miles from Iran. Which marks the shift from territorial to international waters.
My “mission” for the rest of the night was to ride that line. It was either to let them see us on radar just outside of their waters, or just to give me something to do for giggles. Still not sure which, but for the next few hours I was advising course corrections and doing everything I could to keep us close to but not inside that line.
Except for the little slip up of forgetting to account for drift once. Whoops. So for about… 10 minutes or so the US Navy had technically invaded Iran’s territorial waters. They apparently didn’t notice, and I corrected it quickly. In truth it’s probably not nearly as big of a deal as it sounds, but at the time 21 year old me was sweating bullets, thinking I’d just declared war on a foreign country or something.
40. This Is Not a Playground
One time I was with a friend in the yard trying to hit golf balls over the top of the house—why, I literally have no idea. Ended up whacking one of those puppies into the siding and causing a dent. Also, another time, I hit a tennis ball through one of the garage door windows. I should probably have stopped playing sports in the front yard.
41. Inside Job
I took a report for ID theft/larceny at a Chase Bank. A guy had funds withdrawn from his account without authorization. Keep in mind that my complainant does not have a common name, for example, “Tom Smith.” About a week or so later I am called back to the same bank, as the caller stated that the subject who has been doing fraudulent transactions is currently in the bank.
I’m less than a minute away when the call comes over and they are stalling the guy in one of the offices saying there is a problem with his account. I get there, they point him out, I move in, quickly cuff him up and explain that he’s not under arrest, just being detained for an investigation. I find his ID and it has the same name as my complainant from last week. I think oh wow, this is legit, fake ID and all. I think back to my original complainant and the address and dates of birth don’t match.
Long story short, Chase has been doing transactions for one guy on the other’s bank account.
42. Ocean’s 16,000
Worked at a hospital and sent a $16,000 machine to the wrong place, where it was poorly watched. This resulted in some guy trying to walk out with it, only to be stopped because the person who requested it happened to see him trying to leave out the loading bay doors and called security.
43. I Would Have Noticed
Doctor saw Patient regularly for medication management. Patient came back for a follow-up appointment with a very telling side-effect from a very low dose of a medication and no improvement in symptoms that the medication was intended to target. Because this particular side-effect is relatively mild early on and can also be caused by many other variables, Doctor was not duly suspicious of the medication being the cause of the side-effect and increased the dosage of the medication.
Patient became very gravely ill several days later, and the died a few days after that due to complications of the side-effect of the medication. It was a massive mistake and I ca not help but think that if I had been Patient’s doctor, I would not have overlooked the side-effect, and Patient would still be alive today.
44. Valid Excuse
I went to jail once, but that’s a story for another post. Anyways, while I was in holding there was a guy about my age—25—in a really nice suit. He keeps pacing back and forth and asking the guards what time it is while everyone else just calmly sits around. I ask the guy next to me what his problem is and he tells me they arrested this guy thinking he was someone else.
Turns out this guy’s dad, who has the same name, has multiple warrants out and his son was flying to New York for a job interview. He ended up missing his interview because of this. He keeps yelling at the guards to check the date of birth because they are about 30 years different. Imagine telling your would be boss that you missed the interview because you were arrested.
45. (Almost) Melting Your Face Off
One time, before I knew anything about cars, my ’87 truck overheated on the way to work. I pulled over, walked into a gas station, and grabbed a gallon of water because I knew that when a car overheats you’re supposed to pour room temp water into the radiator. What I didn’t know was that it needs to not have been running for a few before you attempt to unscrew the top. The superheated geyser that resulted missed melting my face off by a cool 6 inches or so.
Never did that again.
46. Flew too Close to the Fuse
When I was about 10 years old, it was a couple days before the Fourth of July so we had a bunch of fireworks sitting around. We had some Piccolo Petes—these horrible fireworks that just screech loudly for 10 seconds and do nothing else—and I took them in the backyard. Now about 10 minutes beforehand, my mom had told me not to light off any fireworks before the Fourth.
So I’m out there playing with my magnifying glass burning leaves and stuff, and I decide to see if the magnifying glass can light a firework wick. But of course, I was going to stop it before it actually went off!
So, I see sparks flying, and I panic. I drop the magnifying glass and run inside where I meet face to face with my mom. She takes one look at me and says, “What did you do?” So I just stood there for a couple seconds sweating bullets, knowing what’s about to happen. Then, from the backyard, you hear the unholy screeching of the firework begin to sound.
You could see the look on her face slowly change from “I know you’re up to something” to “You’re an idiot.”
47. New Tenants
A few years back, my girlfriend at the time—she’s my wife now—just got a new apartment and we moved in together. About a week after we moved in, I was in the shower. The door gets kicked in and I get dragged out of the shower. Butt naked and soaking wet. My girlfriend is on the couch, handcuffed. They start asking me about some Spanish named guy Roberto something.
There were more cops in our apartment than I’d seen anywhere before, like two to three dozen cops in our apartment and you could see a bunch of other cops, through the windows, walking around outside. I have no idea what this Roberto guy did but I’ve never seen such a show of force before. The whole thing ended with the head officer yelling at the rookie who was supposed to verify the address.
I guess it was the right address, but Roberto had moved out the month before.
48. That’s Not Tomato Sauce…
I worked at a pizza place, and one night the oven guy went rushing past and mumbled something about someone taking over an oven. So, I went over and started cutting pizzas without really paying attention to what I was doing. Ten minutes later, the oven guy comes back with his hand all bandaged up and blood all over his arm.
He had cut his hand badly on the pizza knife and bled all over everything, but because the blood looked a little like grease and I wasn’t paying attention I continued cutting pizzas with the bloody knife and cutting board. Many people had human blood all over their pizzas and I didn’t have the balls to go own up and tell them.
49. Glove on My Face, But Don’t Call Me a Gloveface
Not a big mistake but definitely awkward at the time. I was gluing up a laceration on a 14-year-old girl’s forehead. Anyone who has used dermabond before knows that stuff can be runny and bonds very quickly. I glued my glove to her face. Her mum was in the room, and I had to turn to her and say “I’m sorry, I’ve just glued my glove to her face.”
50. No Limits Credit Card
I work for a credit card company. One day our main systems crashed so we had to use the old DOS systems to access the customers’ accounts. So this lady calls and wants to reduce her limit from $3,500 to $1,000. Easy. But what I didn’t know, since we were basically using a system created even before I was born, was that I was supposed to delete the old limit and then put the new one.
So because of my mistake, the lady had for a very brief moment a limit of $10,003,500.
51. Looney Tunes Logic
When I was about ten, I was playing with a friend who lived down the street. His younger brother and my younger sister both wanted to play hide and seek. We begrudgingly agreed and said we would be “it” first. We found this bucket of liquid and for some reason thought it was glue. It was at this point we decided to spread it all around the safe zone thinking if we couldn’t catch them it would stop them so we could tag them.
It wasn’t glue. It was some kind of solvent. My sister ran through it, slipped, and landed directly on her head. Blood and tears everywhere. Thought she was dead. Was convinced I was either going to jail or my parents would kill me. Turned out to be fine. Didn’t even need stitches. Only grounded for like two weeks.
52. A Teacher Gets Schooled in Empathy
I’m a teacher. I had a particularly difficult student who gave me a very hard time on an unusually hard day, early in my career. After class let out another colleague stopped by and without thinking, I said, “Nobody wants (“that difficult kid”) in their class! It’s hopeless.” He was walking in the room to apologize and heard me. However withdrawn and difficult he was before this, it multiplied tenfold, and I felt terrible.
I tried to apologize to him, but he didn’t want to hear it. After that, I didn’t breathe a negative word about a child on school grounds. As an educator, you have to learn sooner or later that your students are the ones who get to act like children. Not you.
53. Butt Shot
When my dad was a resident he had a guy come in with a gunshot wound to the shoulder. The guy had been caught with another man’s wife and had been shot while running away naked. In addition to the shoulder, the patient kept saying he had been shot in the gut. Dad searched all over and couldn’t find a wound. But the guy kept complaining about excruciating pain in his lower abdomen. X-ray revealed that, indeed, there was a bullet in the abdomen. Took a while to find, but my dad finally found the entry wound… The guy had been shot directly in the butthole. Swish.
A few years ago, I saw something very similar on ER. Guess if enough people get shot, there are bound to be a few one-in-a-million shots.
54. Wrong Number
Was texting my brother asking for help with something so that my mom wouldn’t get mad and called her the b-word in the text. Sent it to my mom.
55. Turn up the Volume
So last month we received information that a person driving a certain car with a certain license plate was transporting a lot of drugs and money through our city on a weekly basis. In reality, it’s very difficult to find these people as they use multiple routes and our cameras don’t cover every road in and out. However, as luck would have it, my colleague and I spot a vehicle, same description and same license plate speeding along.
We turn on the lights—he doesn’t stop. Horns blaring, again, he doesn’t stop. So, we get authorized to begin a pursuit. Soon, two, three, four, five cars begin to join until there are around seven of us. This guy is sitting at around 96 km/h (60 mph) in a 50 km/h (30 mph) and we’re fairly convinced that we may get this prolific drug dealer.
Well, that was until he made a hard left into a housing estate and parked up. We weren’t sure whether to approach or wait for a specialist team to come down in case of weapons. Before we could do anything, an 85-year-old man gets out of the car and says he’s sorry for speeding. Turns out he didn’t actually hear our sirens, didn’t see us in the rearview mirror and when he did see the sirens he didn’t think they were for him.
To make matters worse, his license plate was off from the suspect’s by one letter.
56. Near Miss
I missed a gunshot wound once. A guy was dumped off at the ER covered in blood after a rap concert. We were all focused on a gunshot wound with an arterial bleed that was distracting. The nurse placed the blood pressure cuff over the gunshot wound on the arm. We all missed it because the blood pressure cuff slowed the bleeding.
I was doing the secondary assessment when we rolled the patient, and I still missed it. We didn’t find it till the chest X-ray. The bullet came to rest in the posterior portion of the thoracic wall without significant trauma to major organs. The patient lived. But I still feel like I messed up big time.
57. Hiding the Crappy Evidence
One day after a night of heavy drinking, I woke up to find I had pooed myself whilst I was asleep. I was absolutely horrified, as you can imagine. I quickly showered and stripped the bed, taking extreme care to remove any trace. I was just finished when my boyfriend came home. He didn’t suspect a thing.
58. Lift With Your Legs
My bedroom was upstairs and it would get really hot, so I had an air conditioner in the window all summer. I had two friends over and somehow we had a necklace that belonged to a girl we didn’t like. We decided that it would be a good idea to throw it out the window—nine-year-old girls are petty, apparently. The plan was that I would hold the air conditioner, friend one would open the window, and friend two would throw the necklace out.
Well, turns out air conditioners are heavy as hell, so of course, it fell. It landed on the stairs to the back door, and both the air conditioner and stairs were destroyed. I freaked out and started saying my parents were gonna make me do chores for my entire life to pay for it. I ran and hid in the woods and bawled.
My parents weren’t even mad. My dad said, “it’s just an air conditioner, we’re just glad no one was hurt.” Looking back, I really admire them for their reaction. We weren’t doing well financially, and it would have been really easy to get mad at me for being stupid and ruining an expensive appliance. We didn’t even have to replace the air conditioner because my dad is a wizard and fixed it.
59. Should’ve Dug Deeper
I woke up on my day off work at 6 am to police banging on my door. I am arrested, thrown in a police car and hauled to the station. After fingerprinting, mug shots, and everything, I’m finally told why I was arrested. A detective comes in, straight off TV. I’m handcuffed to a bench and he starts telling me everything I had done. Paying cell phone and utility bills for my other homes out of my neighbors checking accounts. I’ve lived in the same house for 10 plus years. No other houses.
I asked the detective if he had bothered to do any detecting before filing felony mail fraud charges against me and asked if the other officer remembered being at my home no less than two weeks ago taking a report of stolen mail and checks. The other cop definitely remembered as soon as he saw me. I have never had a speeding ticket much less anything more serious.
They got super apologetic and put me back in the cell for the rest of the day until they got the charges dismissed. Someone had stolen my identity and opened accounts in my name then paid for those accounts with stolen info from other people. I spent a day in jail while they straightened it all out. Not as bad as some of the stories, but always fun to tell about the time I did hard time.
60. Welcome to the Neighborhood
Tore a front bumper off a minivan I was towing right in front of the whole family watching me unload their van. I felt awful, but they were understanding. We fixed it for them, plus fixed the reason it was broken down as well since it was a cheap/easy fix.
61. It’s Fine, Just Don’t You Ever Do It Again
When I was 17 I worked for the city’s newspaper, and one of my jobs was to add up all the orders for the next day’s papers so they could print what they needed. Once I made a huge error and they printed off thousands of extra papers. I was very lucky, they covered up for me, quietly disposed of the extra papers and didn’t tell the boss.
I was just asked very nicely to never, ever do it again.
62. Dude, Don’t You Ever Wash Your Face?
When I was about nine years old, my mom went out and left my sister and I at home with our dad. He was an extremely heavy sleeper, so whenever he was our sole guardian we knew we had our run of the house after about 10 pm. On this particular evening, my mom had left her makeup on the bathroom counter. This was too tempting for me. I gathered my tools and went to work on my sleeping father.
After a few minutes of carefully applying all of my nine-year-old boy makeup expertise, I moved on and forgot about it.
Fast forward. Apparently, dad slept through his alarm the next day and rushed out of the house to work without stopping in the bathroom. Dad was a truck driver, and not much of a fan of practical jokes. I can still remember when he got home. He opened the front door and just stared at me, not moving. Not speaking.
It was the one and only time growing up that I was genuinely afraid of my dad. I thought, “Crap, he’s gonna kill me.”
63. Unlucky Guess
Traffic stop. Guy gave his name and had no ID on him. We ran it and it came back as wanted for failure to appear at court. We arrested him. Turns out he lied about his name and unfortunately guessed the name of a wanted person. Turns out he was just uninsured on that vehicle. Whoops!
64. Bottoms Up and Down the Drain
I work in the cold room of a busy venue with several bars. It’s my job to change the beer kegs when they run out. When it gets busy, I am literally checking and changing the kegs as fast as I can. After a keg is changed over, you pressurize the beer line by opening a valve called a fob. This wastes a small amount of beer as it creates a siphon to allow the liquid to flow again. The waste beer ends up in a water cooler bottle in the room outside the cold room.
Anyway, one day I was really busy, and I forgot to close one of the fobs. I went off and changed another two or three kegs before going out of the cool room for a break. And stepped right in the middle of a massive pool of foamy beer. Here’s the kicker though: my cold room had 24 of those fobs and I had to check most of them before I found the open one. Then I tried to clean up the mess before a supervisor noticed. I failed, and I got yelled at for wasting at least double my day’s wages in spilled booze.
In short, I flooded a small room with beer
65. Count Them All
Fun story, while my wife was having her c-section for our daughter she overheard one of the nurses say “there’s only nine,” and my wife thought they were talking about my daughters fingers or toes. So she’s freaking out that our daughter is missing a finger or toe, and I keep assuring her that our daughter was perfect, which she was.
We found out about ten minutes later that the nurse was talking about the surgical tools that were supposed to be accounted for, and one of them was missing. So my wife got to spend the next two hours in x-ray because they thought they had left a tool inside her and stitched her up. They found the missing tool, not inside my wife, a couple hours later, so that was a relief.
66. Cake Drop
I made a cake for work, and accidentally swapped sugar for salt. As I was prepping it in the staff lounge, I cut myself a small bite and tasted it, it was horrible! People were already arriving for lunch, and being known as someone who bakes amazing cakes, people were excited to have a slice. Not knowing what to do, I picked up the cake and, using all of my acting abilities, “stumbled” and dropped it on the floor. Left a huge cake mess, but saved my reputation!
Best part was that the boss felt so bad for me (and perhaps disappointed at not getting any cake) that he told me to head down to the local bakery and pick up a cake, and he’d wire me the money to cover the expense!
67. Quick on the Draw
When I was 13 I had my two closest friends over for a sleepover because my parents weren’t home for the night. We were in that phase where we were really into guns and Call of Duty and we thought we knew everything about guns because we played C.O.D. 4 all day, so my friend brought over his new airsoft pistol. There was a small closet next to the new 50 inch plasma flat screen my parents just bought and we were taking turns shooting at cans we put on the shelves.
It was my turn and I tried to do one of those cowboy-quick-draw shots where they take out their gun and fire within a half-second. I shot too quickly to really aim and the airsoft BB went straight into the screen of the TV. The screen went black and I hurriedly turned it off and then back on again and strange lines criss-crossed the screen and spider webbed to the point where the BB struck.
They got home an hour later and I didn’t want them to find out randomly later so I brought my mom down and showed her. Did not go well.
68. Saturday Morning Smackdown
I’m a lawyer for the police. I defended an officer who was chasing a bad guy and lost him in the courtyard of an apartment complex and then ran into the back of the wrong apartment and tackled and tased an old man watching Saturday morning cartoons in his underwear while eating fruit loops. He got tased because he was fighting back, as any sane person would do after being tackled by a stranger while watching TV and eating cereal.
The city paid that man some money.
69. Hello, Mr. Sandman
I worked at a plant nursery that sold bulk soils and sand. We loaded this into customer’s trucks with a Bobcat front end loader. Guy jumps into the Bobcat after improperly attaching the bucket and scoops up ~2,000 pounds of sand. Everything is fine and dandy until he attempts to tilt the bucket down and dump the sand. BOOM, 500-pound bucket holding 2,000 pounds of sand SMASHES the side of a guy’s brand-new Tundra.
Couldn’t even drive it.
70. Second Time Is Not A Charm
A patient had gone in for surgery on their right knee. The surgeon did surgery and everything was fine except he did the surgery on the wrong knee. Fast forward a few days and the patient returned for surgery on the correct knee. The surgeon did surgery on the patient’s knee and forgot a sponge in the knee. The wrong knee, once again.
You can’t make this stuff up.
71. Double Check Your Texts
When I was in high school, I was dating this guy for a few months. I decided to send him a nude while I was getting ready for school. I took the picture, attached a detailed sext (even though the most we had ever done was over the clothes touching…) and hit send and finished up getting ready.
5 minutes later, I’m in the back seat of my mom’s car and I opened my phone to check for a reply. I realized I sent it to my mom instead. I silently freaked out before I realized she obviously hadn’t seen it yet or else everything wouldn’t be so calm right now. I saw her purse on the console between the front seats, phone peeking out with a text notification.
I grabbed it as quickly as I could, she asked what I was doing and I just said: “I’m checking to see if I’m getting texts.” I deleted it, TRIPLE checked, and deleted all evidence from my own phone too. I’m almost 24 now and I still am super cautious any time I send anything even slightly questionable to anyone. I won’t text my sister something with a curse word in it unless I check the recipient box twice.
72. (Thank) God Is Watching
When I was sixteen, I was forced to go to church with my family. They knew I hated every minute of it, and so as a sort of compensation my mom would let me leave a few minutes early and pull her car up front as services were closing. So one Saturday my best friend spent the night and I dragged him to church with me. Well, at the usual moment, Mom handed me her keys and me and my friend went to pull the car around.
Now of course since my friend was there, I just had to show off a bit. I pulled Mom’s car out of the parking space, where she parked right next to my Pop’s truck. When I pulled her out, for some reason I decided I should try a burnout or something funny. Well, I totally had no idea what I was doing and crashed Mom’s car into Dad’s truck.
When the shock subsided a bit, I got out to survey the catastrophe. I was standing there in all my shame and glory as the entire church filed out. Luckily we were on holy ground and there were too many witnesses, because I’m sure my parents would have sacrificed me there on the spot. Can you believe that they never bought me my first car?!
73. Game Night Gone Wrong
I was in the wrong car several years ago. Driving home from a friend’s house late one night, my friend and I got pulled over by a narc. Apparently, some giant drug bust went down and one of the meth cooks fled in the same model vehicle. We found this out because the local sheriff was called for backup to watch us while the narcs searched the car.
The sheriff thought it was funny because my friend and I had been out playing board games, so the trunk was full of game boxes that the narcs wanted to search through. It took something like 45 minutes before the narcs accepted that the boxes of Settlers of Catan and Axis & Allies were not secretly full of meth. Fortunately, after the narcs gave up, the sheriff helped us reload the trunk while the narcs went off to search for their suspect again.
Extra nice thing is that we were definitely speeding but didn’t get a ticket because the narcs had bigger fish and the sheriff didn’t care enough to follow up on the speeding.
74. Blast from Credit Card’s Past
I used to run charges on credit cards as part of my job at a bike parts vendor. One day, I mistakenly charged a bike shop over $1,000. It made the owner of the shop go over their credit limit and get a bunch of fees. I was fired soon after. The only job I was ever fired from. I later moved to the town where that very same bike shop resides. I spoke with the owner and mentioned that I had worked for the vendor long in the past.
She told me in detail about the time that her card was charged by accident. I feigned ignorance.
75. Don’t Burn Yourself Out
My parents are nurses. They knew a doc who’d been on a 36-hour shift. Patient came in with a punctured lung (I think) and the doc had to collapse the lung to fix whatever was wrong with it. Through tiredness, he collapsed the wrong lung, and the patient died. That doctor ended up killing himself not long after being fired.
76.Wax on, Wax off
I spilled red wax all over cream-colored carpet when I was about sixteen. Then carefully cleaned it all up using printer paper and an iron (you lay the paper over the wax, iron on low heat, and it transfers the wax from the carpet to the paper). What made it harder was that my mom (one of those really particular, house proud people) was napping in the next room the whole time. Had to do all of it without waking her up.
When we moved out, there was a tiny stain still there, but she never picked up on it until then.
77. Setting the Mood
I thought it was a good idea to play with some candles while having a Lord of the Rings marathon. Turns out that was a bad idea because I ended up getting distracted and set the family couch on fire. I frantically put it out and threw a blanket over it. I didn’t leave that couch for a week.
78. Get Clean and Then Clean Again
I was working in a sterile hood when a massive sneeze hit me out of freaking nowhere. The force of it caused me to duck my head under the hood and blow mucus everywhere inside. The whole lab froze, and eyes slowly rolled my way in disbelief like this. I contaminated every sample and they had to call in an outside company to re-sterilize.
79. Boy, That Was Close
Nurse here. I was assisting during a vasectomy. The doctor found the testicular artery and thought it was the vas deferens (the sperm tract) and was about to tie it off and cut it. In a very diplomatic way, I told him to double check the anatomy.
80. Doctors Are Humans Too
I was at a holiday party of relatives and friends. My older uncle is a radiologist. He said (a story I’ve heard before) that he wrote left instead of right on one of his X-ray interpretations and because of that error the patient subsequently died (wrong lung with the tumor or something like that, but I really didn’t get the details).
Anyway, a doctor friend of his at the party said, “It happens to us all, it happens to us all” consolingly. So people, it happens to them all. Be really vigilant, don’t have a naive, childlike view of your doctors—they’re human.
81. Vegetables Aren’t Always Good for You
Well, when I worked as a waitress, there was this guy who was allergic to mushrooms. So, he ordered a bacon and egg omelet and I put in a memo saying, “No mushrooms allergic.” As if out of spite, the kitchen left one shred of mushroom in the guy’s omelet. The guy had a reaction, but luckily it wasn’t so bad that he needed to be hospitalized. I apologized profusely but I’m sure he probably thinks I tried to kill him.
82. Just Thought You Should Know
I was transferring 100+ transaction records from a certain company’s old database to a new one. I’m doing great until I realize that I forgot to remove the notification settings on the form I was using so I [accidentally] sent over a hundred emails to the company’s vice president. I only knew this because he emailed me asking me to politely stop.
83. I Was New, It Was My Fault
Doctor here. I assume we mean medical errors and not general life decisions. No comment on life decisions. For medical error, I will not stay anonymous because I strongly think we should feel free to disclose our mistakes in order to improve quality and learn from each other.
My first week of my intern year (year one outside of medical school, when you’re on call overnight and all that, AKA “Season One of Scrubs“), everyone “signs out” their team’s patients to the doctor on call overnight. So that doctor (intern, with an upper-level resident also present overnight to supervise) is covering many patients they hardly know, maybe 60 or more. The situation was that a patient with dementia, unable to really communicate with people and clearly “not there” but conscious, arrived from a nursing home with I think some agitation as the original complaint.
Basic labs ordered in the ER show the kidney function is worse than usual, which could be due to many things, but what really MUST be distinguished is between “not enough blood pumped forward to the kidneys and rest of the body” (e.g. heart is failing and it’s backing up into the lungs) VS “not enough liquid in the blood TO flow” (e.g. due to vomiting a lot or something).
This is critical to distinguish because for the first you give medicine to make them pee out the extra liquid, and in the second you give more fluid. Either treatment for the opposite problem is catastrophic. Fortunately it’s usually easy to distinguish “wet” from “dry,” based on listening to heart and lungs, chest X-ray (is there “congestion” evidence?), blood pressure and heart rate (tend to drop BP and raise heart rate upon going from laying down to standing positions if you’re too “dry”), looking at neck veins while sitting up at an angle (they bulge if too “wet”), and so on.
This patient was unable to cooperate with exam, answer questions, and the X-ray was sort of borderline (unchanged from the last X-ray maybe several weeks ago). My resident instructed me to sign out the patient with instructions to continue a 500mL saline inflow, then reassess to see whether the patient looked more “wet” or less “dry.” I signed this out, and forgot to make the order to stop the saline after 500mL, so it ended up running slowly in all night.
The intern on call (also first week as doctor) forgot to re-assess at all or shut off the saline if it had been noticed because so busy with new admissions. We’d also ordered three sets of “heart enzymes” meant to diagnose a heart attack, one reason for a patient suddenly getting “wet” (i.e. heart pump failure), since the EKG was not interpretable (had a pacemaker which makes it impossible to tell). Lab messed up too, because hospital policy was that if the first set of “heart enzymes” was negative, apparently the 2nd and 3rd sets, each traditionally spaced 6-8 hours later to catch a heart attack if it starts to evolve and become detectable by blood test, were both cancelled.
I came in and first thing in the morning checked on this patient, who was screaming things nobody could understand and the nurses had chalked up to dementia and agitation. I checked the labs and saw the second and third heart enzymes hadn’t been done. I went to the bedside and saw the IV fluids still running. I immediately ran to the overnight intern, who said things had been so busy and nobody had called to notify that things were wrong.
We stopped the fluids, immediately got a heart enzyme test, learned this patient was by now having a massive heart attack made much worse by the addition of IV fluids all night to this frail failing pump.
I can’t get the screams out of my head, and cried a lot and was pretty depressed for a few weeks at least after this. The patient died because the status ended up being decided as not to resuscitate based on what the nursing home had on file, although no family members were known at all.
This patient was totally alone, and spent the last night of their life in physician-induced agony. But I acknowledge the failure of two interns, the nurses, and the lab. Ultimately the blame fell on the lab and I think someone was fired, but I made clear to everyone that I felt to blame and wanted quality improvements made to prevent future errors, or at least catch them early if they happen. That’s I think the best you can do when you make a mistake.
There’s a Scrubs episode where as I recall at the end there’s a brief scene where the ghosts of dead patients representing medical errors follow around the physicians like little trains. It’s very poignant. That’s what it’s like.
84. Engineering an Explosion
As an undergrad in college I worked in a research lab for the school’s chemical engineering department. My partner and I were making a reactor that could contain hydrogen gas; hydrogen gas is the smallest molecule there is, which makes it very difficult to effectively contain. We made our prototype reactor and needed to test it to make sure it was sealed tight and could handle high internal pressure.
To do this we submerged it in a 55-gallon barrel of water and kept pumping air into it to see if any bubbles escaped. We kept filling it with air and didn’t see any bubbles and wanted to know at what pressure it started to leak so we kept pumping air in. It didn’t leak. It exploded, fortunately, the explosion was contained by the water. But all that air being rapidly released blew all the water out of the barrel and flooded our professor’s lab.
There was no drain in the floor; in case of a chemical spill you don’t want that hitting the public water supply. So we had to break into the janitor’s closet and got the entire lab cleaned up. To this day our professor still doesn’t know about it. And it wasn’t even the only time we accidentally blew something up or flooded his lab.
And our project wasn’t to design the reactor, the reactor was one component of the larger project.
85. Automatic Locks
I once locked my mum’s car keys inside her car while she was at work. I was opening the boot of the car and I was going to go into the car afterwards, so I threw the keys into the car, shut the boot, and went to open the car door. It was locked and the keys were inside. My mum had to break the back window of the car to get in to retrieve the keys, and had to drive around with a bin bag taped over the window for like a month.
86. Something Looks Familiar…
My company once lost a six million dollar per year account because sales guy forgot to change the competitor’s logo from a previous contract offer.
87. More than One Option
I was at my boyfriend’s—we’ll call him B—apartment in Louisiana, which is in kind of a rough neighborhood. We were watching a movie on the couch, and after taking my sleeping pills, fell asleep. At about 1:30 AM, there’s loud banging on the door and B gets up to investigate. My pills knock me out pretty hard, so I barely opened my eyes and see B get yanked out the door and about nine officers flood the apartment. They start asking me tons of questions and I’m barely coherent at this point.
“Ma’am, are you okay?” “Did you call the police?” “How long have you been asleep?” “What is your name?” etc. From outside the apartment, B tries telling them I fell asleep watching a movie, and they berate him for trying to answer for me. They are patting him down up against the wall outside and are about to cuff him.
They radio dispatch to call back the number that dialed 911 and are searching the apartment listening for it. I hold up my phone and tell them we didn’t call the police, but they won’t listen. Once I finally was able to get a word in, I ask them what this is all about. Turns out, a woman in apartment 29 was being beaten by her boyfriend and he was dragging her around by her hair, so she called the police.
I tell them this is A29, but there’s also B29, C29, and D29. Suddenly, they all rush to me and are baffled by this new information. They start yelling, “WE’VE GOTTA GO. WE’VE GOTTA GO”, and suddenly they’re all gone. There are dents in the door and we didn’t get an apology, but I’m happy with the way they handled the situation.
If I had called the police for a domestic abuse case, they made me a priority.
88. Inside Jokes Are Not Outside Jokes
At work (on my personal email) I was emailing my best friend who was Polish, we often used “polak” as a joke. Me being part Italian I also referred to “greasy Italians.” Sent the email to my friend, looked again and realize I had typed it up in the wrong email window and had sent it to a client.
I instantly recalled the email and sent an email apologizing to the client saying it wasn’t intended for them. Thank god for old Microsoft Outlook’s recall feature. It saved me that day. The client never got the original email.
89. Jay’s Doppelganger
In college, I was approached by several people on separate occasions that thought I was some guy named Jay. One of these times a cute girl came running up to me and jumped on me to give me a hug thinking that I was this Jay character. It took me several minutes to convince her that I wasn’t him.
Finally, I met this guy at a concert in town when I ran into some of his friends who were there and thought I was him. It was eerie how similar we looked, facial structure, hairstyle, we were even both wearing dark green sublime shirts. I’ll never forget that. It was like a movie.
90. Gambled and Lost
A guy was stealing from my company, thinking I would never fire him because he was my best friend. Big mistake. He hates me to this day, six years later. It was not an insignificant theft. I felt I had to protect the livelihood of the other 1,000 people who worked at the facility.
91. Not Doing The Job Properly
A bouncer at a bar in NYC was holding my ID in his hand when he asked me if I was Jacoby Ellsbury from the NY Yankees. It was right after he was traded so it was plausible, but all he had to do was look down at my ID and realize I’m not him. I said “Yes I am” anyways.
92. No Mars For My Kid
Jay’s mom. This story is a colleague’s. The science teacher said, “for this unit, I’ll be taking you all to Mars!” Jay’s mom comes in—in-person—yelling about how ain’t her kid goin’ to no Mars. She ain’t give permission for dat. True story.
93. Pharmacist Saves The Doctor
I was on rotations as a med student, and we had a lady who was taking VERY high doses of Oxycontin (roughly 240 mg a DAY) for pain. I don’t remember what it was related to, she had a laundry list for her personal medical history. Let’s go with cancer, remission (to give life a good outlook). She is admitted to the general floor with altered mental status. She was out of it. Major side effect of opiates = altered mental status. Okay. No big deal, get the opioid out of there and the patient will probably come to.
Under my care (with my preceptor), the nurses on the floor had to use Naloxone on the patient. This hospital doesn’t mess around with pain control. Naloxone (or Narcan) is an opioid reversal agent. It wakes you up when you have so much that it is negatively affecting your chances at living (such as respiratory depression).
Patient is taken off her 200mg+ Oxy to see where her pain is. She’s down to 20mg a day now. She isn’t complaining about pain. She’s still altered mental status. 24 hours pass, nurses Narcan her six times in 24 hours. SIX TIMES. Unheard of at a small hospital. She hadn’t had her Oxy in almost 16 hours when she got her last Narcan shot.
Due to her altered mental status, patient was put as a “fall risk.” As the nurses are putting the mats next to the patient’s bed, they turn around to get the pads that go over the sensors and the patient falls out of bed. Off the side? Nope. OFF THE END. They think she’s fine, put her back in bed. They find her home med of Oxy that she had been taking in her bed. That explains why she is altered mental status, she’s over-medicated. Problem solved? Nope. Patient is now 20 hours post-dose (of hospital given medication).
I tell my pharmacist that we need to do a CT scan because she could have hit her head. ANYONE that falls should have a CT, especially if they are altered mental status. The nurse said she could have hit her head but the MD didn’t order a CT scan because they wanted to put in a pacemaker. The patient had a low heart rate too, so they thought that was the cause of the altered mental status.
I beg my pharmacist to let me talk to the Doctor myself. I just had that feeling. That bad feeling. I’m good friends with an anesthesiologist who works at this site, so the pharmacist suggests we ask them first. I talk to them, they agree with me and go tell the MD to get a CT of the patient’s head. They do it. Two hours later, patient is in ICU, crashing. Why? Cranial Hemorrhage per CT scan.
Next day, doctor comes to thank me. They were going to put the patient under for the pacemaker right when they did the CT scan.
94. Irresponsible Faculty Meeting
One of my favorite moments: I walk into the school office to check my mailbox. A parent of one of my students sees me and says very loudly, almost screaming, “Oh, FINALLY!!!! LOOK, EVERYONE, I FOUND A TEACHER!!! Do you realize that I left work EARLY to come here after school to talk to my son’s teachers about his report card, and you are LITERALLY the ONLY teacher I have found?!!! I went from classroom to classroom and everyone is GONE!!! Do you know what time it is?!! It’s 3:45 pm! School ended FIFTEEN MINUTES AGO!!! FIFTEEN MINUTES!!!! And you’re the ONLY teacher STILL HERE!!!! CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO ME WHY EVERYONE IS GONE?! CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO ME WHY EVERY TEACHER HAS LEFT THE BUILDING WHEN SCHOOL JUST GOT OUT?!!!!”
I paused, waiting to see if there was more. When I realized he had finished, I said, “All the teachers are in the library. We’re having a faculty meeting.” The look on his face was priceless. He knew he was in the wrong, but by that point, he had committed so fiercely to his anger and righteousness that he couldn’t just apologize. So he said, “Well that’s just irresponsible.” And he walked out of the office.
95. What Time Is It?
One time I woke up late for school because my alarm didn’t go off. I am incredibly blind without my contacts and just glanced at the clock and was very late. In a furious panic to try somehow make it to the bus I put my contacts in, dunked my hair in water and grabbed my backpack and jacket as I sprinted to the bus stop.
It was the time of year where it’s dark outside well into the morning, so it was still pitch black. No one was at the bus stop, so I figured I missed. I still waited for quite some time in case it showed up. When I realized I was so late it wasn’t coming I walked back to my house, knowing I would have to wake my mom up to take me to school.
Fortunately, when I walked through the front door, she was already up waiting for me! She greeted me with, “WHERE THE HECK HAVE YOU BEEN?!?!” I responded that I was sorry, but late for the bus and needed her to take me to school. She glared at me and told me it was something like four in the morning.
I had somehow misread my alarm clock in my state of panic and tried to explain that I really did think I was late and was really at the bus stop. She just assumed I had snuck out with friends the night before and was just coming home, something I had been doing off and on for a while at that time. So, I was grounded for sneaking out, when in reality I just woke up too early to go to school.
96. Taking the Fall
So, I work in a cnc workshop, and we often engrave stuff. This particular guy wanted a nice wooden jewelry box for their wedding anniversary with a custom message he emailed me. For some reason, he chose to give the box to his wife at the workshop (not the most romantic place I can think of but whatever).
The guy’s wife starts to look confused and tear up: “you don’t remember the date?” Guy turns pale, looks at me, says: “no, I’m sure it’s a mistake.” Me: “no, I’ve copied it straight, can’t be wrooon…waaait a minute, omg, it’s my fault, I’m so sorry, I will redo it right away, no need to pay, please accept it as a gift…”
Wife gets angry a bit at me, but they leave with a different box and the correct date. Guy comes back next day and pays triple the original price without a word.
97. Always Check the Decimals
I very nearly injected a premature baby that had Down Syndrome with ten times the amount of Lasix I was supposed to give him: I had put the decimal in the wrong place when I did the math on the dose.
That baby would almost certainly have died if I’d given it to him. I had the liquid drawn up in the syringe and had the syringe actually in the port ready to push through before I looked inside the chamber and realised how uncharacteristically full it seemed. Paediatric IV doses of anything are simply tiny. I was supposed to give him 0.1 mls, and nearly gave him 1.0mls.
I needed a very large cup of tea after that.
98. She Would Swim Any Waters for Me
I’d been drinking one night and pissed the bed…her bed. With her in it. I spent an hour wide awake and mortified, as we hadn’t been living together for very long at that point and I had no idea how to handle it. I eventually woke her up and shamefully told her what happened. Without ridicule or anger, she got up, helped me get the sheets in the wash, and took a shower with me.
It’s been three years since that day, and she hasn’t once used that event as harmful ammunition in an argument, or even mentioned it at all except as private playful banter once or twice. I understood then that she respected that embarrassing things happen to everyone and that I could always count on her to have my back, and to always keep our secrets.
99. That’s No Scratch
I’m a nurse, but I was working in the ER when a guy came in for a scratch on his neck and “feeling drowsy.” We start the usual workups and this dude’s blood pressure TANKED. We scrambled, but he was dead within ten minutes of walking through the door. Turns out the “scratch” was an exit wound of a .22 caliber rifle round.
The guy didn’t even know he’d been shot. When the coroner’s report came back, we found that he’d been shot in the leg and the bullet tracked through his torso shredding everything in between. There was really nothing we could’ve done, but that was a serious “what the heck just happened” moment.
100. Big Pharma
I was promoted to VP of my company. The company was in trouble, and the CEO had asked me to figure out why and fix it. I arranged for a random drug test. All employees, the CEO, me, everyone. All on the same day and everyone went down at the same time. Even said I would ignore weed but anyone with anything stronger would be gone. We get the results back and I fired everyone who had tested positive for any drug other than weed. The CEO and myself were the only two people left working for the company.
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