Working in the medical profession: it’s like customer service, except every single person you see has a problem, and the problem has to do with their own bodies, which is a subject they’re often dumb as a stick about. Doctors, nurses, dentists, paramedics, lab techs, and even therapists—they see it all, from the good to the bad to the very, very shocking and terrible. Whether it’s a patient who makes a stupid assumption about their condition or one who ignores their horrifying and gruesome symptons until it’s (nearly) too late, medical professionals have to deal with a whole lot of patients who could fall under the umbrella of the term “worst.” Here are some of their stories about the most outrageous patients they’ve ever seen.
1. Cup of Broken Water
I work in the ER. We had a very pregnant patient come in needing stitches in her nether regions. Turns out she was a realtor and didn’t want her water to break while she was showing a house, so she put a glass cup in her pants to catch the water. Instead of using a pad or an adult diaper, she went for a literal GLASS CUP.
She sat down while showing a house and sure enough, it broke and cut her up pretty bad.
2. Half-Diet Soda
Was working at a clinic. I was speaking with a non-controlled diabetic patient about her sugar intake and she said she drinks a 32 oz. soda every day. I ask her if it’s regular or diet, and she replies with “It’s half-regular. I let the ice melt first, so there isn’t as much sugar in it.” Sorry, but that isn’t how it works.
3. Smuckers Jelly
Had a young woman with recurring urinary tract infections that began after a recent partner. She had no STDs and we went through the standard questions trying to figure out what could be causing them. We eventually found out that she had been lubricating with jelly. Not KY jelly. Like, Smucker’s. The mix-up had literally been a joke on the TV show House.
It took me some effort to keep a straight face, but we eventually resolved the problem and she stopped getting UTIs.
4. Fart Attack
A lady comes screaming into the ER. Now, she’s all dressed up, and so are her two grown daughters. All of them screaming hysterically that their mother is going to die. I go by them and nearly get tackled by the husband of one of the daughters. “Save her, she’s having an embolism.” Shaken, I examine the lady, asked her where she was coming from—a wedding, that explained the dress.
She apparently ate a bit too much of the potatoes that were served at the wedding. A shot of pantoprazole later, her “embolism” is gone. She just had a bad case of gas.
5. Dehydration Therapy
I had a patient who was a completely non-compliant diabetic smoker who had his first heart attack at 45. His blood pressure was also super high. And instead of taking his anti-hypertensive medications, he went to the gym. In the gym, he would sit in the sauna for a very long time, sweat a lot, and lower his blood pressure by becoming dehydrated.
6. Fast Food Treatment
A patient had low blood pressure. Their self-treatment plan was to eat more fatty foods, in order to decrease the size of their blood vessels in order to increase the blood pressure within their system…
7. Bacon Wrap
We had a diabetic foot patient a couple of weeks ago who thought that wrapping his foot in raw bacon would help get rid of bacteria. He’d apparently been doing it a while, ‘cause it cost him four toes.
8. Radical Cure
I had a pregnant woman whose ultrasound showed the baby had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. It means the baby has half a heart, and it’s 100% fatal without surgery. She stopped seeing her obstetrician so she could have the baby in the forest and bathe it in breast milk to cure him.
9. Home Sweet Home
Most of my own stories go along similar lines to “patient has chest pain driving a coach load of school children, thinks its indigestion, swigs bottle of Gaviscon, later diagnosed with a huge heart attack.” My favorite ever story from a colleague: a patient comes in with abdominal pain. As part of the workup, he gets an abdominal X-ray, which shows the problem as clear as day.
The colleague has then proceeded to remove, from the patient’s rectum, an 8-inch replica of Nelson’s Column, the statue in the center of Trafalgar Square in London. On showing it to the patient, his response was: “Oh that’s Nelson, he lives up there.” Like, what?
10. Shove It up Your Nose
I’ve got two stories that stick out in my mind. The first is the mother of a toddler who came into emergency. The kid had cruddy stuff coming out of his left nostril, and a lot of redness and swelling of only the left side of his nose and the adjacent cheek. Mom was sure he caught a sinus infection and just wanted some antibiotics.
Now, I know some kids like shoving whatever will fit into their bodily orifices, and that this was more than likely given the one-sided nature of his condition. But Mom was insistent that he NEVER puts things in his nose. It took some convincing, but I finally got her to let me take a look. Gave a squirt of midazolam in the good nostril to settle him, then dug with some tweezers through the crud until I pulled out a big ole button battery—like the kind they use in watches.
It would’ve been burning his nose for a couple of days. Hopefully, he healed up well.
11. Bad Diet
I had a patient who had a hard time getting pregnant. She finally conceived but miscarried. She has a procedure to clear the uterine lining so that she can try again, this time with medical help. We monitor her blood to ensure the pregnancy hormone is gone before beginning the new treatment. But she keeps coming back with high levels of the hormone.
Docs are worried because she might have some retained placenta or pituitary disorder and this could be super bad for future fertility. We call her in for a conversation about the hormone levels not clearing up. After talking together about what might be wrong, they are going to go home and think about further tests. She says “I need to go. I have an appointment at the weight-loss center for an HCG shot.”
Turns out that she is on the HCG diet. HCG IS the pregnancy hormone. And this was after an hour of the docs saying “We don’t know why you have these constant high levels of HCG in your blood and we are worried.”
A patient inquiring about birth control was adamant she wanted an IED (improvised explosive device).
13. Making It up
I told a patient’s mother that his heart rate sped up in response to pain as a “physiological” response. She exploded at me and got very confrontational. Turns out she thought I was saying it was “psychological,” or all in his head.
14. Bigger Isn’t Always Better
An ER physician told me this one: a 16-year-old boy presented to the ER with extremely swollen and discolored genitals. Apparently, he has been using his mom’s insulin needles to draw blood out of his arm and inject it into his own genitals. He thought that adding blood would help increase his size. His penis was terribly infected and he was hospitalized for a week or so.
15. Wishful Thinking
I’m part of a military medical unit, not a doctor, but I once had a patient tell me that there was no credible research that smoking was bad for one’s health. Okay.
16. Disease Machine
Optician here. We had a patient who refused to let us use the tonometer, which is a machine that checks ocular internal pressure to diagnose glaucoma. He said that machine gives you glaucoma, and we weren’t going to pull that on him. He told us his father got an exam, and had glaucoma after using that machine.
His uncle and brother also had no signs of glaucoma, and after getting the puff test, both people had been diagnosed with the disease. Glaucoma doesn’t have any outward symptoms before you start going blind. This idiot just told me he has a very strong familial disposition to glaucoma and refused to be tested for it.
17. Annoying Family
An 80-year-old male patient was declining with multiple diagnoses and three bedsores. The daughter was adamant that her father was kept on his strict “paleo” diet because that would “supercharge” his healing. She had a stack of diet books. He simply wasn’t getting enough nutrition to heal the ulcers. He didn’t like the diet at all.
At some point, you kind of have to stop being polite, and just tell patients/ family members bluntly that you don’t have time for this and what you recommend, and they can do what they want and just document everything. It happens a lot but she sticks out.
18. Tales From the Eye Doctor
As an eye doctor, I’ve seen a lot and could write a book about all the weird ways people neglect their eyes, but three stories in particular stick out. I had a patient tell me they clean their contact lens with MILK because it “gets the acid off them.” I had a patient with a 6-year-old translating for them. They basically couldn’t elaborate on the problem except to say that their eye hurts.
Another patient came in with her hand covering her eye. I asked to see the problem. Her eye looked like a shriveled up grape. The optic nerve was holding onto a shriveled up decayed eye loosely hanging in the orbit. She wanted glasses to fix it. I also had a guy recently come in because “wife made me.” He had tried to use tweezers to remove a piece of metal from his cornea.
Didn’t look pretty. I removed the remaining metal rust with a needle and spinning burr tip brush. He needed antibiotics. I told him not to do that again.
19. Paging Dr. Liar
I am a dental student. One patient, in particular, is a pathological liar. During one visit, they claimed to have gone to medical school. Next visit they said that they were in the Royal Army Dental Corps. Last visit was that they had a PhD. The patient will say things like, “Hey doc, do you need me to move my head mesial or distal?”
No. I need you to move your head to the right.
“Hey doc, are these cavities being caused by the anaerobic pathology microbes?”
No. They are caused by you eating snacks all day and not brushing.
20. We Didn’t Start the Fire
Not my story, rather, my colleague’s. A patient was admitted for anemia and a localized cancer was found. She was referred to surgery so that the cancerous cells could be removed. She started telling everyone that it was the doctors who had caused the cancer and that she was doing just fine before coming to the hospital.
She lectured the surgeon and my colleague, who pleaded with her to get surgery, so that the cancer doesn’t advance, and yet she refused, saying she knew better and probably didn’t even have cancer…
21. Walking Dead
I didn’t treat this patient, but I was on shift when this guy came in with chest pain. His EKG showed tombstone shapes, meaning he was in the middle of a cardiac episode. He told the emergency doctor, “I want a second opinion before going to the cath lab.” This EKG is unmistakable. The interventionalist had to come down to the emergency department to tell him he was having a heart attack.
22. Bad Plans
ER nurse here, not a physician, but you may find this interesting. A young adult male presents with multiple abscesses on various parts of his body. He states he injected his boyfriend’s semen into himself, trying to get pregnant. He tells one of the APCs he should have gone with his original plan and tried on his dog first. Somehow, psych clears him.
He’s admitted to the floor and gets IV antibiotics. What.
23. Wrong Kind of Doctor
Not a doctor, I’m an optician and at this point, I was a young lady in my mid-twenties. I had a guy come in saying he was a doctor, and he wrote himself a prescription for glasses and he brought frames. A few days later, his lenses come back, he puts on his glasses, and he can’t see. I start going through the possibilities.
Usually, with progressive lenses, it’s an adjustment issue, and they need to sit differently on his face. He completely refuses to let me adjust them. So I check the lenses, and the RX match what he wrote. I try to explain that there’s only two options, either they need to sit differently on his face, or the RX isn’t good. He tells me, “You don’t understand. I’ve had eye surgery for a disease that you’ve never even heard of.”
I offer to remake his lenses to prove a point. His new lenses come in a few days later, and an older coworker is helping him. I told her everything. Again, he can’t see. She tells him, “The young girl who tried to help you last time was trying to explain that if we adjust your glasses you might be able to see out of them. Will you please let me try?”
He lets her, and suddenly, he can see—but not perfectly. It turns out that the dummy was a lung doctor and not even an eye doctor.
24. Spread of Hysteria
I had a mom in hysterics because she was convinced that her neighbor’s friend’s stepson’s teacher’s dog has MRSA, so her baby was going to die. It took everything within me to not tell her she was being unreasonable. But it took three hours for me to finally calm her down after I called: infectious control, her pediatrician, her gynecologist, and her family doctor.
Yes, I had to call all these people; yes they laughed at me; yes she was beside me the whole time questioning their judgment. I love my job, but at times it makes me crazy!
25. Teaching Moment
I had a patient who was a very young child. She came in with an extremely high blood glucose level. Once she was stable, we did some teaching and kept her for a few days for observation. For some mysterious reason, every time I checked her, her levels would be extremely high, although we were appropriately treating her.
Turns out her family would bring her fast food for every meal and hide it in the side table.
26. Who’s the Idiot?
Picture a middle-aged man, but his index finger is five times the size of the rest of his fingers. It smells, it’s leaking pus, there’s necrotic tissue. Basically, one huge infected cancerous finger. He was a firm believer in not taking any sort of medication; including antibiotics or chemo. He died a few weeks later, but he did manage to tell us we were all idiots before he passed away.
27. It’s Measles, Susan
I was working at a pediatric urgent care facility. A family brings in their 3-year-old unvaccinated son with autism for a weird rash. They couldn’t give me any reason why when I asked them about his vaccination status.
28. Some Extra Skin
Nurse here. The number of American 20-something males who don’t know what circumcision is, is ridiculously high. They think that boys are “born circumcised.” Evidence: New fathers (and mothers) asking me what’s wrong with their newborn son’s genitals. “Ummm… He still has his foreskin. Many parents choose to have it removed when the baby is a couple of days old. It’s called circumcision.”
Often followed by a parent’s question: “What’s circumcision?” That’s when I facepalm.
29. Technical Dummy
I had a patient insist: “I didn’t have a heart attack, I had a myocardial infarction.” That’s just the technical term for a heart attack, genius.
30. Stinky Attitude
Not a doctor but a gastro nurse. We had a recurring patient who was just a really very strange lady. She had a stoma (an artificial opening into an organ needed for certain medical problems) that absolutely stunk to high heavens because, for the last 20 years, she had not been cleaning it properly. Every single day her stoma would come off, because she was twisting the drain tube and wouldn’t allow us to change it.
So this lady was really rude and would shout at us too, and one night shift I couldn’t take it anymore and I snapped at her. I didn’t yell, but I was overly stern about the fact that if she did not let me clean and treat her stoma then the MRSA bacterial infection that she wasn’t able to get rid of would eat her alive. In hindsight, I didn’t handle that very well, but she let me change the stoma.
Throughout this entire ordeal, she’s yelling at me that her stoma bags are not cut to fit her stoma, that they are too small because her stoma is “50cm by 50cm,” to which I corrected her, saying that’s impossible. She was adamant that’s how big her stoma was. When I was cleaning the stoma, she yelled at me because it was hurting, so she wanted to just pop the new one on.
I explained it was hurting because of infection, as she never cleans it. She proceeds to tell me that she knows better because she has had the stoma for nearly as long as I’ve been alive. I eventually ended up telling her to shut up and let me do my job, which seemed to work, and the stoma did not come off again that shift.
When she was eventually discharged—she refused every placement in any nearby care facilities to the point where we almost considered a court order to evict her—one of our staff nearly cried with relief.
31. Whatcha Gonna Do With All Those Lumps
I’m ashamed to say I have a story that fits here. I have a ganglion cyst (pretty harmless) on the inside of my wrist, when it starts getting large, I smash my wrist down on a hard table and it goes away. I developed a similar bump on the top of my foot. I couldn’t smash it down like my wrist so I tried hitting it with a hammer.
Didn’t do anything and it was getting bigger and interfering with my shoes so I got it investigated. Not a cyst, but arthritis in the joint. No wonder my hammer trick didn’t work. The radiologist did find my treatment method amusing, but advised me to get any more lumps checked out rather than randomly hitting things with a hammer.
32. Decide for Yourself
My aunt (who has varicose veins, pretty obvious to anyone who sees it) once asked me why her legs hurt and what those bluish lines under her skin were. I almost went on to explain to her about dilated veins, when she interrupts and decides for herself that those are her nerves. Dying nerves. And the blue stuff was blood clots inside the nerves.
I’m a med student.
33. Who Needs That Money?
I was doing a respiratory system examination on this guy who frequently (about once a month) gets admitted in the general ward with complaints of breathlessness. He’s had COPD for a couple of years. Quite bad. And he tells me that he isn’t going to quit smoking because God told him not to. When asked why, he tells me that the people who are relying on him for their daily livelihood won’t survive if he stopped.
I went on to ask him if he meant the people at the cigarette factory or the health industry. He didn’t get the sarcasm though.
34. Alternative Doesn’t Mean Better
Patient comes to the surgery clinic with complaints of a mass in his rectum. I wasn’t there the first time he came. The surgeon wanted to do a couple of investigations and advised him to get admitted. The guy decided he doesn’t want to. A couple of months later, he comes back to the clinic. Apparently, he went to one of these alternative medicine places or whatever, and they had tied this metal wire—not exactly sure why—around the mass.
By then, this mass had eroded through it, was bleeding, and had gotten much bigger. It turned out to be a cancerous growth.
35. Let the Doctor See You Now
I was a unit secretary and nurse aide on a radiation oncology unit in the early 2000s. We had a patient show up through the ER who was admitted for emergency radiation treatment. She had a fungating mass in her mouth that had consumed half her head. When the doctor tried to examine her and open her mouth, her remaining teeth fell out into his hand.
It had eaten through the bones of her face, invaded her eye socket, everything. Doc said it was the worst case of mouth cancer he’d seen. According to her husband, she had a small lesion on her hard palate (the top of her mouth). Upon receiving the diagnosis of an early-stage squamous cell carcinoma, she decided to treat with essential oils and things like frankincense, because chemo was poison.
Her husband said he had tried to reason with her, but she was adamant about the “natural” treatment. She died in agony shortly after.
36. Positively Priceless
Not a doctor but am a medical technologist. There are plenty of dumb patient moments but this one was recent. I did a fingerstick blood test for a patient, ensured the little cut stopped bleeding, and then put a Band-Aid on it. Told her to collect a urine sample for testing. The test came back strongly positive (4+ reading) for blood.
She complained to the doctor that there is NO WAY she has blood in her urine, and that the blood from her fingerstick must have entered the urine, throwing off her reading. She said it was my fault that I did her blood test before her urine test, and I obviously made a mistake. She repeated the test later in the afternoon, still at 4+.
Came back a week later, still at 4+. The look on her face when I told her “Sorry, ma’am, your result is still positive” was priceless.
37. Nasal Problems
A 70-year-old female tripped and fell two days ago. She came in with hip pain but reported after the fall her nose was bleeding—she had landed on her nose. About a year prior her dentist had messed up an infraorbital nerve block and caused some swelling in that region, but that all was resolved. This old lady became convinced the nosebleed she got after falling on her face was related to an “infection” from the dental issue a year ago.
After multiple back-and-forths on the source of the nosebleed, she became the first patient I raised my voice and put down an authoritative “No, you are wrong, just stop it.”
38. Get Glasses
I work for an optometrist. It was the month before school started and a woman brought in her son to have his eyes checked for the first time. Seems like a pretty reasonable thing for any parent, even if he was a little older than normal for a first eye exam. Better late than never, I guess. The mom was well-spoken and appeared fairly intelligent.
Everything went as normal, the doctor examined the boy and ended up prescribing glasses. The doctor was explaining to the mom that her son had to wear his glasses all the time since he’s nearsighted and basically can’t see clearly past 5-feet in front of him. He would definitely need glasses for school. For some reason, this caused a switch to flip in the mom and she spazzed out on the doctor, saying that her son doesn’t need glasses and that the doctor is only saying that because he wants to sell glasses.
She says that she only brought her son in because there was some form for school that needed to be filled out and that doctors are all con artists trying to push unnecessary medications and interventions. The doctor tried to calm her down and explain that he’s only trying to help them but that she was free to get a second opinion and gave her a copy of the kids’ prescription and sent them on their way.
About four months later the lady is back asking for another copy of her son’s prescription. Apparently, the first-semester midterm results were in, and her son had failed them all, because he couldn’t see the board in his classes.
I’m a nurse who worked in the operating room at a trauma center. I was there for surgery on a 19-year-old who had tested positive for drugs. He was grilling the anesthesiologist about every drug we were going to use in surgery because “he doesn’t like putting chemicals in his body.” Gotta stick with that organic, fair trade, Non-GMO cocaine.
40. Anti-Vaxxer Sources
Med student here…on my pediatrics rotation a mother refused vaccines for her kiddo after “educating herself.” When prompted as to what she was using as her source, she replied, “my own brain.” Lovely.
41. Yahoo Answers
I’m not a doctor, but I’m a patient whose mother was like this. The doctor had to speak to me on the side because of it. My grandmother has Crohn’s disease. Very, very badly. It skipped my mother and her brother. When I was 15 years old, over the course of six months, I went from being 5’9” tall and 190 pounds to being 110 pounds.
I was a skeleton, extremely anemic, and coughing up blood. My mother was absolutely CONVINCED it was something else. I forced her to bring me to a doctor and she spouted off all these possibilities. She then talked about what she Yahoo-ed. Not even Googled. Yahoo. About genetics and such. And “Crohn’s can’t skip generations.”
Well, the doc said, “Just in case. We’re gonna run some tests.” Long story short, I have Crohn’s in my throat and small intestine. So does my cousin. It just skipped a generation.
42. Denial Is Not Just a River in Egypt
I had a patient come in with several pages he printed off the internet. He kinda slammed them down and said, “This is what I have.” He had bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stool, and fever among other things. He insisted he had schistosomiasis. He was being a real jerk about it, like we’re wasting time since he already knew what he had.
So, I asked him when he got back from Africa. And he said, “Africa? I’ve never been to Africa. What the hell would I be doing in Africa?” I proceeded to tell him that schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease one gets while swimming in the Nile River or other rivers in developing countries, like in Southeast Asia. He got mad at me because he thought I was being a smart aleck.
He got seen and diagnosed with gastroenteritis—regular old stomach flu. As for the bloody stool? He had hemorrhoids.
43. Probably Never Heard of it
I was a fourth-year med student seeing patients on clinical rotations. The patient comes in with a laundry list of chronic conditions he suffers from—fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc. Guy is wearing over-the-counter braces on all of his fingers and both thumbs, as well as both wrists, forearms, knees, and shins, because of a rare bone disorder he has.
When I say I’ve never heard of it, he says, “Well that doesn’t surprise me, doctors go to med school to learn how to prescribe drugs and make money, not heal people.” Alright. He tells me that he suffers from a rare disease that I’ve probably never even heard of called myalgic encephalomyelitis. True, I’ve never heard of it. Again: “that’s because doctors don’t care about educating themselves about illness and healing, they just care about giving patients drugs and getting money from big pharma.” Ok.
I don’t have a vested interest in this patient thinking I’m smart, so it doesn’t really get to me. He continues “educating” me throughout the appointment, and I just make conversation with him, the third time he tells me about how all doctors just go to med school so they can put all their patients on drugs I just say, “Well, lucky for you, pharmacology was my weakest subject!”
That actually gets a laugh out of him, and I listen to his explanations of all of his rare diseases and disorders. The appointment ends, and he leaves. I look up myalgic encephalomyelitis. It’s the British term for chronic fatigue syndrome, which the patient also had. He has a weekly standing appointment with my teacher, which is the only thing that keeps him from visiting the local ER every day, sometimes multiple times a day.
His diagnosis is Illness Anxiety Disorder, although he would tell you it’s 800 other things you’ve obviously never heard of. He swears that my teacher is the only honest doctor in the country, because he basically just has him come in once a week and talk about all of his various illnesses for 20 minutes, after which the patent returns home feeling validated.
The ER docs love my teacher for sparing them. The patient is mentally ill, so I’m not insulted by him or anything, but you’d be surprised how many people come to the doctor to be treated for something, all the while telling the doctor how horrible they are and why all doctors are evil puppets of big pharma. It’s like when I worked fast food and people would say “Every time I come here you guys screw up,” and I’d just think, then why do you keep coming here?!
44. What Do Nurses Know?
Not an MD, I’m an RN that works with oncology (cancer) patients, some of which are on clinical trials. I got a patient and, before starting his chemotherapy, reviewed some of his lab work with him. I told him his glucose level was 73. Normal range is usually between 70-100. He got really upset at this point, so I asked him, “What’s wrong? Your labs are within range!”
And he said, “I need it to be zero.” I said, “what? Why would you want your glucose to be zero?” He said he’s trying to meet requirements for a new clinical trial that requires his glucose to be zero. I told him, “I don’t know what clinical trial you’re trying to get into, but if your blood glucose was zero, you’d be dead or dying.”
He was not convinced because I’m “just a nurse,” so I sent a message to his doctor asking them to educate their patients better.
45. Dumb Doctor
I’m a physical therapist and vestibular (inner ear/balance) specialist here, with a dumb physician story. I had a patient come in with unmistakable signs of BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), a condition where the salt crystals that fall on hair cells in your ears to tell you which way is down and which direction(s) you are accelerating in get stuck.
When this happens, your ears and eyes disagree about your current position and acceleration and you get really dizzy. She went to an urgent care where the doctor told her that she had BPPV. For treatment, he told her to go home, lay with her head hanging off the bed, and just let her husband (a retired accountant) shake her head around for five minutes.
Imagine being on the most intense rollercoaster you’ve ever been on, feeling like you’re going to throw up, and then having someone who has no medical training shake your head around for five minutes. She spent the next two days throwing up before she could get in to see me. For reference, there is a very specific set of motions, pre-care, and post-care that must be given in order to appropriately treat BPPV, and sometimes when you do it right your patient will still need to throw up once after you’re done.
46. Organic Cigarettes
Paramedic here. I transported a guy who was adamant about only using homeopathic medicine, natural/healthy living, etc. He was refusing meds/interventions/X-rays on this basis. He also smoked a pack a day. The ED doc called him on this nonsense with something along the lines of “You smoke, so you’re not that homeopathic, you’re getting a chest X-ray.”
47. Can’t Control Everything
I had a patient with a Hemoglobin A1C (a blood test for diabetes) result of 13, which is high. This guy believed that he could control his liver’s production of glucose with his mind. He believed himself to be very fit and active and felt that with his mental control he was a better athlete than most other people, because he could ramp up his glucose production when he needed to. He was in the hospital for a diabetic foot ulcer that required a part of his foot to be removed.
48. DIY Plastic Surgery
A male patient injected kitchen oil into his own cheeks because he saw a plastic surgery TV show where a surgeon injected something similar to a model. He was amazed that the bumps of the oil didn’t go away, and were turning red and painful.
49. It’s My Poop In A Box
Patient made an appointment and brought in his poop in a box. He was concerned about the size of his turd, and if it’s normal. All he got from the visit was, “Normal turd. Yes, it’s pretty wide.” Turd box was set out with biohazard waste. Waste guy thought it was a misplaced package and put it on the front desk. Secretary got quite the surprise that day.
50. How Do You Fix It
I was treating cavities on a very nervous 4-year-old. Had finally gotten into a cooperative groove when genius mother looked up from her phone and noticed that I was drilling teeth. She was in the room the whole time—I had reviewed treatment with her, she knew we were fixing cavities. She proceeds to curse me out under her breath, saying, “You’re drilling holes in her teeth! this is freaking ridiculous, you people are scammers making holes in people’s teeth!”
I kept my calm and said “Ma’am if you have questions I will be happy to answer after I’m finished”—I’m shaking with rage at this point, because she was 20 minutes late to her appointment, and I’m bending over backward to make sure her kid has a good visit and doesn’t end up scared of the dentist. When the appointment is over, the kid jumps down, high fives me, and gives me a big hug.
I turn to mom and ask her how exactly she thought cavities were fixed? She said, “You don’t drill, my mother is a dental assistant.” I then proceeded to explain in excruciating detail the scientific process of how we remove decay. She said, “That’s not true.” I then told her that she can go ask her mom, ask Google, or go to dental school if she wants to know more, but I won’t be treating her child anymore.
51. Not Fazed by Basal Cell Carcinoma
This lady came in and literally half of her face had been basically eaten up by basal cell carcinoma. One of her eyes was completely missing. According to her, it had been this way for years. And here’s the kicker, that’s not even the problem she came into the hospital for! She had come in for an umbilical hernia as big as a basketball that had been there for months, and she’d started vomiting over the past week so she finally went to the emergency department.
52. Junk in a Box
I had a guy present to the ER requesting an ice chest (a cooler full of ice). After a lengthy discussion, this is the narrative that we managed to sort out, as the story was erratic. This guy went to a party. Guy met gal. They had fun dancing. She asked him to her place. She asked for some sexy, sexy time. She asked to kick things up a notch. He said, “Why not?”
She pulled out a syringe and injected a drug into his genitals to make sexy time last longer. They proceed to have lots of fun sexy time. A few days later, things are sore. Somethings not quite right in his genitals. Some red spot starts getting redder, larger, and darker across time. Things start turning black, and smelling bad. He decides it’s a good time to take some initiative, so he pulls out a knife and starts sawing at his genitals to carve out the dead skin.
Then, he hits a nerve. At this point, he changed his mind to see if he can fix the issue, and covered it in olive oil, then wrapped it in Saran wrap. You know, to fix it. Some more time passes, and he goes to the bathroom in a restaurant. He pulls down his pants, and his junk slides off of his urethra like a corn dog off of a stick, and lands on the floor next to him.
He picks up his junk, goes and gets a cup from the vending machine, fills it with ice, and puts his genitals in it—to help keep it fresh, of course. He wanders around for a few more days, then decides that his cup is getting too smelly, So…he goes to an ER and asks for an ice chest full of ice. He gets taken to the ER. The ER docs consult Urology, and it turns out that when he goes pee it just flings around everywhere like an unbridled firehose on full blast.
The hospital won’t let him keep it, as it is a bio-hazardous tissue at this point, but he won’t let the hospital take it…until they decide to give him a receipt. Then the junk is taken to wherever they incinerate penis, and the dude wound up admitted with a surgical/ urology consult. Moral of the story: Don’t inject stuff in your junk. Even if it is from random strangers for sexy, sexy time.
53. Look it Up in the Dictionary
This one happened to my ex-father-in-law, and it’s funny, but it’s not. He was a surgeon. He is a very gentle, soft-spoken guy, and came out to tell a patient their biopsy results, to which they responded: “Praise Jesus, it’s malignant.” He had to explain that malignant meant bad.
54. One Disease at a Time
A guy brings his wife to the ER, Her leg has a 7cm x 7cm wound (diabetic ulcer) with greenish-yellow pus, and what looked like a few maggots. Now, I took one look at her and referred her to the surgery department for admission. But the hubby is adamant about his wife’s kidney disease. He says: “But doc, it’s just a wound, you gotta fix her kidney first doc, I read online that diabetes can cause kidney failure, and you gotta do something for that.” I spent an hour convincing him that his wife would probably die before the kidney damage sat in by sepsis from the clearly infected wound.
55. Learning Experience
One day during my pediatric internship period, I was in charge of the general ward. Basic things, look after the kids, solve small complaints (coughs, breathlessness etc.), evaluate new admissions. Now where I work, interns are supposed to draw blood from children for tests. So I went about my job and there’s one little tyke who’s a bit too active, and jumps around when he sees the needle. The mother gives me a vile look and says, “You lot are just puncturing my child for your education.” At which point the kid just screams even harder. Yes, I’m studying a blood draw at two in the morning by waking up a kid. That’s what she thought.
56. Protect Yourself
Lady walks into the office. The smell of cigarette smoke is so strong on her that I start coughing. Her dry leathery skin cracks while she talks, from years of sun abuse. She tells me, “I’ve stopped using sunscreen because I researched that it causes cancer.”
57. Growing Pains
One thing I will never forget is how I learned never to be mad at a patient. Now, this was when I began as an intern, A patient had intestinal obstruction. We inserted a nasal feeding tube, as the patient could not eat anything orally before the surgery. The problem was that they would always come and complain to me about how I didn’t stick it properly.
After two to three such episodes where I reluctantly redid it, they complain that the tube is out of the nose, and lo and behold, it is out. It’s very uncomfortable, most patients try and pull the nasal tube out. I replaced it like four times. Poor guy was fed up by then. On the morning of the surgery, his wife comes and asks me, “Doc, can you just remove that tube so that I can give him some coffee?”
Now, I got totally mad. I was working a 72-hour shift, So I scolded her by saying that if she or he didn’t want the surgery then I couldn’t do anything, and it would be nice if they gave me some peace. She didn’t say anything. The patient, 50 years old with no other complications, died on the table. I couldn’t face her. The moral being, doctors know more things than patients. But it’s not always wise to bite their heads off. I could have convinced her it was impossible to remove the tube before surgery in a calm way. Since then I’ve tried to be a better speaker to patients.
58. Very Superstitious
I’m still just a medical student, but our hospital sees a lot of poor and poorly educated patients, since we’re a big tertiary hospital in a developing country. Worst I’ve seen so far are the old ladies who everyone in the family turns to for health advice, their only qualification being seniority. They usually have a bunch of superstitions that end up contributing to the patient’s condition in the first place.
I once saw a baby brought to the ER for a really bad oral infection, and the mother clearly hadn’t taken a bath since the delivery (it’s a common superstition here that mothers shouldn’t take a bath a week or so postpartum), so we figured that’s the source of the infection. While we’re assessing the patient, the doting grandmother in the background decides she has to comment on everything we’re doing—remember, she’s probably the one who advised her daughter not to take a bath.
I just had to shut her down because: A) It was late and people were running out of patience in our understaffed, under-equipped ER; B) They’re more worried that device monitoring oxygen in the blood is hurting the baby’s tiny widdle toes when there’s freaking pus leaking out of the baby’s very inflamed salivary glands. I mean, I get that infections like these are a disease of poverty, that their poor education is just indicative of a wider systemic problem that society fails to address time and again, but by golly, does it get annoying.
59. Flea Treatment
I have one. I got this from my friend, who is a doctor on the children’s ward in a rural hospital. These parents bring in their child, whose hair is infested with lice. The lice were visible to the naked eye and could be seen crawling on the child’s clothing. While the medical staff examined the kid in order to determine a course of action, they discovered the child was covered in a white powder and smelled heavily of chemicals.
They asked the parents what the substances and the smells emanating from the child were. The parents said, quite matter of factly, it was Sevin powder (a garden insecticide) and flea and tick spray they used on their dogs on the family’s farm. Needless to say, social workers were notified about this case.
60. Take One Apiece
One day in the pharmacy, a girl comes to the counter requesting a refill for her birth control. We pulled up her profile and realized we couldn’t refill it because she just got a 28-day fill less than two weeks ago. When we asked what happened to the pack she’d been given, she said she was out. Apparently, both her and her boyfriend were each taking a pill each and was adamant that was how they needed to prevent pregnancy.
61. Skipping Meals
We had a patient come into our hospital with anorexia requiring treatment, which, as usual, she didn’t want. However, she appeared to be eating her prescribed meals. After a few days it becomes clear she’s not putting on any weight, but the room is clean and she’s supervised for her bathroom visits, so we know she’s not flushing it away.
It turns out her family are going through some tough times and her dad’s down on his luck and out of money. So when he’s coming to visit his anorexic daughter in hospital every day, he’s eating the food prescribed to her because he can’t afford to feed himself. Meal time is unsupervised if there’s a family member there. The dad was blocked from visiting when the daughter fessed up.
62. Feeling Blue
I had a patient present for a blue hand. Good pulses. Normal temperature. Sensation and motor intact. Resolved with an alcohol prep pad. It was garment dye transfer from her not-yet-washed denim jeans.
63. Game On!
Work in a vascular office. Had a middle-aged woman come in with complaints of numbness and tingling in her feet and legs. Happens frequently, very painful, can’t walk. Me: “Do you notice these symptoms more when you’re lying down or walking?” She said: “Neither. It only happens when I’m sitting on the toilet. I like to play games on my phone, but my legs and feet go numb after I’ve been sitting a while. I’m afraid I got poor circulation.”
Took everything I had to continue that conversation with a straight face.
64. Uneasy Queasy
I had to explain to a 17-year-old girl and her mother that she was not in fact “allergic” to alcohol, but she was just hungover. She complained that on nights when she drank too much vodka, usually on an empty stomach, that she would feel nauseous, flushed and sometimes vomit in the morning. But it didn’t happen all the time, and there were no other typical symptoms of an allergic reaction.
65. Covering All the Bases
Irate mom who wanted to speak to the doctor because we took an “unauthorized” urine pregnancy test on 16-year-old daughter just before x-rays. “I never consented and now she’s traumatized.” Explained that it is standard in females of child-bearing age and that consent to treatment was signed upon entrance to the facility. Not good enough.
They were rich and I suspected that this routine standard was perceived as an insult to their status.
66. Fool Yourself Twice
I once had a child who swallowed a sizeable magnet that passed to the intestine, and we were just waiting for it to pass in his stool. The next day, when he came for follow up, we just found out that he swallowed another one that got stuck to the first magnet in the intestine through the stomach wall resulting in intestinal obstruction, and he was transferred to the OR immediately to have them surgically removed.
67. Getting to the Bottom of This
Guy in the ER for an infection caused by shooting meth into his hand said he had never had surgery. Then when I was examining him and saw his large abdominal surgical scar and asked about it, he told me he had liver surgery for cancer but never finished the chemo treatments. I was a naïve intern at the time, so this caused me great concern, and I asked him where he’d had the surgery/incomplete treatment, so I could get the records.
He told me, signed the waiver, I faxed them, and they faxed me his record. He had never had cancer but what he did have was exploratory abdominal surgery to remove the shampoo bottle that got lost in his rectum. He was the stupidest patient not for the shampoo bottle in the ass, or the meth, or for lying about cancer, but because out of the many hospitals in the city, for some reason, he directed me to the ACTUAL PLACE where he had his ass-bottle removal done.
68. Bon Appetit
I worked at a pain management clinic. In an attempt to combat opioid use/addiction/abuse, a lot of patients were prescribed a medicated cream. It looked a lot like sunscreen, and you just rubbed it onto the areas affected by pain. I watched the nurse carefully and slowly explain how to rub it onto the skin, using small, uncomplicated words and going through the motions of applying it several times…
But every so often, patients would complain that their cream “tastes bad.”
69. Don’t Give It the Dignity of Attention
Paramedic… Got a call for a stroke. Patient had facial droop and slurred speech, says that it feels just like the last time she had a stroke (ten years ago). Says that the symptoms came on about “four days ago,” and she knew the moment it was happening that it was a stroke but didn’t go to the hospital because she “thought she could make it go away on her own.”
70. Let’s Just Be Safe
I asked a patient if there was any chance that she was pregnant. She said no. I then asked if she was sexually active, and she said yes. So I asked one more question: “Why do you think that there’s no chance that you could be pregnant?” She replied, “Because I’m not married.” I told her to pee in a cup for me.
71. Cut It Out
My dad is an orthopedic surgeon who does a lot of hips and knees and cries with laughter every time he tells the story of a woman who didn’t understand how hip surgery works and thought they were going to take her leg off, fix the hip, and then reattach her leg.
72. Having a Ball
A guy came to the outpatient clinic with a swollen left ball. He said he was injected with some cajuput oil by his friend (with his consent) to enhance his performance in bed. I’m a female medical intern and I tried so hard to keep my expression as neutral as possible.
73. Walk It Off
Not an emergency patient. I did just have a chiropractor tell me he had more training than a medical doctor. I changed the subject to something else. I’m an eye doctor and when I was looking at his retina, I found a new choroidal nevus—essentially a mole. Almost always benign, depending on size, elevation, location, and a few other factors.
He asked me what supplements I’d recommend to make it better or stop it from worsening. Took everything in me not to roll my eyes. On another note, yesterday had a patient walk in over the lunch hour. It’s always Friday when these ones walk in. The ones with serious problems that they should have seen someone months ago or weeks ago but didn’t because they thought it’d go away.
His vision had been worsening and distorting. Finally wanted to get it looked at. Giant choroidal melanoma. I’m sending him to a specialist, but I’m afraid at best he’ll lose his eye. At worst he’ll have a few more months. Would have had a better prognosis had he come in months ago. Don’t just wait for problems to resolve on their own guys.
74. So Every Instagram Tutorial is Deadly
I know a guy who went to the doctor in a panic thinking he had cancer because when he tugged his eyebrow hairs some came loose.
75. They Say It’s Only 99% Effective, After All
Not a doctor, work in Ultrasound. A patient told me that she’d been trying to get pregnant for five years with no success. I asked if she was on any infertility drugs. She replied, “No, but I have been on birth control for the last seven years.” I blinked and said, “You are currently on birth control but also trying to get pregnant.” She said, “Yes, I like to know when my period is coming.” Unbelievable.
76. The “Die” in “Diet”
I have a few examples: Patient who recently been diagnosed with diabetes, we needed to adjust her blood sugar levels, but she kept eating sweets. So we had a talk for like 30 minutes with her about not eating sweets and so on, she seemed to understand. Five minutes after the conversation, she went around drinking a soda.
Another guy who had a benign arrhythmia—an irregular heartbeat. He knew that he could get the arrhythmia from time to time, but as long as he didn’t faint or have any pain in the chest he could just take a beta-blocker and let it pass. But he went to the ER like six or seven times before he understood that we couldn’t do anything.
One patient came in for something—can’t remember what—and when we ran tests we found that he had a pH of 6.97! That is on the border of what the body can have and still have any function at all—read: he should literally be dead. But he was totally awake and clear. We wanted to admit him to the ICU and adjust it with the utmost care.
But he needed to go home to eat a shrimp sandwich. Yes, a shrimp sandwich. We sat down and talked to him and his mother for 30 minutes, telling them that no shrimp sandwich in the world is worth your life, and if there is something else you need to get help with we can help him. But nope, he left. He came back a couple of hours later and we cured his acidosis.
But that must have been a mean shrimp sandwich.
77. Under the Counter
I’m a CNA, not a doctor. With that being said, the other day a patient was telling me that they want the doctor to prescribe them heroin. I told him I’m pretty sure they can’t prescribe anyone heroin. Being new to the field I have learned the opioid epidemic is a very real thing that affects an insane amount of people.
I knew it was bad, but I didn’t think it was this bad.
78. Doctor Roboto
Not a doctor; however, recently talked to a patient that is getting ready for surgery that involves usage of robotic arms to help remove the tumors. Allows for smaller incisions and greater precision. This patient starts insisting to meet the doctor when it seemed like the consult was wrapped up. So we get him back in there, thinking maybe she’s got another question.
The patient says, “I still want to meet the doctor.” And the doctor points at himself and says, “I’m the doctor.” She kept insisting she wanted to meet the doctor. The doctor explained that he’d be the one doing the procedure. Finally, exasperated, the patient said: “No, not you! I want to meet the robot that’s going to do my surgery! I feel like we should at least shake hands first!”
Apparently, the patient was expecting some metal man to walk through the door. The patient also had “cancer cure” recipes and was insistent we take notes.
Not a doctor but dental nurse. My favorite was a 30-something-year-old woman who came in for a check-up at the emergency low-cost clinic I worked at. Teeth were broken and almost black and gums are angry swollen, bright red and bleeding by just moving her tongue against them, needed multiple scaling/hygienist appointments and a debridement.
Honestly, YouTube has some amazingly disgusting videos of this treatment but maybe keep the sound off if you don’t like the scraping sound. The x-ray showed she had all but her wisdom teeth and 10 fillings, root canals to try and save some teeth and extractions for I think 3, but more if the root canal didn’t work. Explained everything and did the usual explanation of proper oral hygiene.
Asked her if she had any questions to which she says “It’s okay if I lose this set of teeth, my others will come through.” Me and the dentist just looked at each other probably a lot longer than we should have. No words. I couldn’t think of anything to reply to that comment. I had a lot of weird and disgusting things happen at that clinic. I actually miss working there.
80. The White Stuff
Student here. A guy came into the ER one time because he noticed dandruff. Dandruff. Like, have you not heard of Head and Shoulders?
81. Where There’s Smoke
I was asked by a patient on the respiratory ward if I thought his lung cancer might have had anything to do with his 50-a-day smoking habit. Because he smoked roll-ups and he wasn’t sure if they counted. I struggled to keep a straight face, and said yes, and busied myself in his chart.
82. Just Get It Over With
My wife is an RN who works at an outpatient surgery center. Cataract surgery is one of the common surgeries that they do. Patients are told that after the surgery, they should put eye drops in four times a day for one week, so 28 drops altogether. One patient asked if it would be okay to just put the 28 drops in all at once so they didn’t have to deal with it for a week…
83. You Never Know Until You Try Twice
Maybe the guy who had previously had an anaphylactic reaction to a foodstuff but wasn’t sure he was “really allergic,” so thought he’d test it out by bringing some to the ED waiting room and eating it. Spoiler: he was really allergic.
84. Don’t Breathe
Respiratory Therapist here. Was working ER and was told we were getting a patient in respiratory distress. When she gets in she is having problems breathing and needs oxygen. I’m placing an oxygen mask on her and she yells, “I’m allergic to oxygen!” I heard the doctor laugh behind the curtains.
85. Let It Go
My one patient used to hold in her farts to the point of being in antagonizing pain because she thought that there was a certain amount of air inside a person, and if you let too much out you’ll deflate.
86. Make It Stick
Not a doc, but work at an ER. I was putting in charges one night and one of the doctors had forgotten to mark the chart appropriately, so I looked at the diagnosis. It read “Imagined object in vagina.” I went back to joke about this and got the story. A woman came in and said she’d accidentally sat on a cactus and had spines in her vagina.
The doctor (with a female nurse in the room) had to go looking and never found a single thing, including any wounds or signs of irritation. When I sarcastically asked why someone would do that, the doctor on at the time said, “Well, I guess if you’ve got nothing better to do on a Friday night.”
87. Take It Away
I had a patient on my OBGYN rotation who was in her 50s and decided that her clitoris was actually a growth that needed to be removed immediately. She came in three different times to talk to different residents over the course of a month and could not understand that she’s always had a clitoris and that it’s supposed to be there.
We even printed off a diagram of normal female anatomy to explain. Then she started saying her urethra was actually the growth and she wanted that removed. We explained she wouldn’t be able to empty her bladder without it and she then demanded her bladder be taken out too. I think she should have been referred to psych…
88. Tunnel of Love
Surgical resident here. Had a man in his 60s who came in because he’d inserted a plastic jar full of supplement pills into his rectum. This is despite the fact that a few years prior, he had done the same thing, it had perforated his bowel, and he ended up requiring an emergency laparotomy (big cut down the middle of his abdomen) and a Hartmann’s procedure (cutting out his sigmoid colon which had perforated).
It left him with an end-colostomy (the loop of bowel before the part that had perforated was brought out to his skin, emptying into a bag he had to change). He had the bag for 2 years, and then another procedure to reverse it. He must’ve really enjoyed it. We went for a dig with a colonoscope and eventually got it out.
89. Not Morning Person
Medical doctor here. I saw a young woman in the Emergency Department. Her primary complaint, per the triage nurse’s note, was “lethargy,” but she was awake and alert when I went to see her. I told her that she didn’t look lethargic, and most patients who are lethargic come by ambulance rather than walking into the ED, so I was wondering what she meant.
She started to tell me, “Well, last night while I was sleeping…”, and I interrupted her because, of course, people are a bit lethargic when they are sleeping. But I caught myself and asked her to continue. She then tells me this story: “So last night when I was sleeping, I was talking in my sleep. People have always told me that I talk in my sleep: my family, room-mates, you know. So anyway, I was talking in my sleep, and I was saying, “Mary, (that’s my roommate’s name), Mary—wake me up!” And it was really hard for her to rouse me from sleep.”
Me: “And that’s why you’re here today?” Her: “Yes.”
90. Jumped the Gun on That Confession
A patient of my dad’s (a dermatologist) had a visit from a city councilman who presented with a large brown growth on the tip of his penis. He started by confessing, “I haven’t exactly been faithful to my wife recently.” After a close-up inspection, my dad asked him “Have you done any camping recently, Ted?” He replied, “Why yes, I took the boys to Arkansas two weeks ago. How did you know?”
“Because you have the largest wood tick on your penis I’ve ever seen.”
91. Mr. Hot Pants
I had a fella come into the ER who was stone sober, but only because he had spilled all of his rubbing alcohol onto his pants, which meant he couldn’t drink it. The reason why he was in the ER if the first place was because he tried to burn the alcohol off of his jeans by lighting the alcohol on fire, thinking the alcohol would burn and not his pants.
He had some pretty rowdy burns from the calves down because he couldn’t get his pants off of his shoes. To be honest, pretty nice guy… absolutely the kind you’d expect to light themselves on fire, but he was very pleasant considering the circumstances.
92. Back Off That Acne
Had to explain to a nurse that what she is seeing inside her daughter’s ear on an otoscope is normal (cone of light) and NOT a pimple as she had thought initially and that she should NOT pop it with a needle as she had originally planned. She was my nurse at the time (I’m a physician’s assistant), texted me the night before saying she found a pimple in her daughter’s ear and that she was going to pop it with a needle.
Called her immediately and told her to leave it alone and bring the child in the next morning for me to look at.
93. A Part of Us
After my sister helped to deliver a baby boy she had to explain to the mother, the grandmother, and the great-grandmother what the penis and scrotum were. They were all pointing at it and acting very confused.
94. I Doubt That’s in the Scriptures
I had a patient who was paralyzed from a lower back problem that was reversible by surgery. The night before surgery, his blood glucose was getting up pretty high, like 500ish and climbing. I told him we had to start an insulin drip to control it. Wound healing and infection risk are greatly affected, and no surgeon would do this surgery with BG this high.
He then drops this line: “It is against my religion.” Ok, in fairness, I get religious issues all the time, so I try to be a good doctor and ask. He states he is Catholic. It took me an hour of my life at 3 AM to get him to take his insulin. He was ever so close to spending another day without the use of his legs because he made up a religious objection to insulin.
I can’t fathom the stupidity that had to be conjured in order to roll that dude.
95. Threads of Confusion
Not a doctor, but when I was in college this girl I was dating called me all freaked out that her skin, “was turning black.” This was midday during the week. She said she was going to the hospital. My house was across the street from the university hospital, so I decided to head over to see what was up. She was distraught.
I went into the examination room with her and she explained her situation to the doctor and showed him her arm. The doctor just licked his thumb and rubbed her arm. Turns out she was wearing a brand-new black sweater and some of the fibers rubbed off on her arms.
96. Wrong Direction
Had a patient that got pregnant while on the pill. She was devastated and couldn’t understand how it happened. I asked her how she took it. She said: “I just used one before sex.” I replied: “Ma’am, you need to take a pill every day for 21 days to for it to work and then you are supposed to take a 7-day break while you have your period.”
That’s when she said, “What!? I am supposed to shove one of these up my vagina every day!?”
97. Out of Mind, Out of Womb
Ob-Gyn doctor here, 40 years experience. About once a year would take care of someone in full-blown labor, full-term, who did not know she was pregnant. Very hard to wrap my head around, I guess the denial power of the mind is substantial.
98. Puppy Love
Put a very expensive implanted device in a patient with government-funded care. She came to the follow-up appointment with a gaping wide infected wound. Said she thought it would help healing if she had her dog lick it. The device had to be removed and discarded.
99. Something’s in the Way
Had a patient come in stating that he couldn’t bend his knee. Asked him to remove his trousers so I could examine his leg. After he removes his trousers the reason that he couldn’t bend his knee was that he had a plaster cast around his knee. Checking his notes, he had been sent numerous letters asking him to come in for removal of this plaster cast and as he hadn’t attended any of the outpatient clinics, the hospital had assumed that he had removed the cast himself.
100. Tell Her the Bleeding Truth
I had a mom and grandma bring their 12-year-old daughter/granddaughter to the emergency room because she was bleeding. Not from trauma or a wound mind you, the poor girl had started menstruating and the mom didn’t want to explain what was happening or started to happen, nor that it would continue to happen—as mom and grandma well knew.
On the upside, it was a very quick ER visit once they were actually seen.
101. At Least He’s Well-Exfoliated
Paramedic here: Called for a diabetic. I get there, and the patient is an older gentleman who is laying on a bed with what looks like a white mask on. I ask what’s going on, and the family goes on to explain that he’s a diabetic, and the doc told them to give him frosting if his sugar gets low because the sugar content will perk him up.
Turns out he didn’t explain that they should put it in his mouth. That’s right. They put a white frosting mask on this poor guy. Shocker: It didn’t work.
102. Baby’s First Attempted Chemical Lobotomy
So, I’m a therapist and I work with kids. Worst misdiagnosis was a family with a two-week-old who was convinced the baby had 1) anxiety—because he cries, 2) autism—little eye contact, and 3) bipolar disorder—because the baby would seem content then suddenly angry. I spent HOURS explaining child development, what these diagnoses mean, how they would present in kids.
I provided them with books, handouts, etc. They insisted on going to see my co-worker and a psychiatrist as I was surely lying to them. Even after meeting with the other two professionals, they still weren’t convinced. They requested psych meds from the doc.
103. It’s Eating Me, Doctor
There was a 24-year-old patient who was brought in from a jail in a rural county. He was working roadside cleanup when he found a bottle in a ditch that he thought contained alcohol and he quickly chugged it down. To be fair, it did look like whiskey. It wasn’t. It turns out it was a substance that contained sulfuric acid. Its pH was less than 2.5…it just ate up the litmus paper.
So ,shortly after he gets to the ICU he is in excruciating pain. The gastroenterologist took him to do an EGD (basically a procedure where they can look at the esophagus, stomach and duodenum with a camera attached to a flexible tube) and the pictures were horrendous. You could literally see his stomach and esophageal mucosa eroding away.
He had to be sent off to another hospital where they had an esophageal surgeon who could repair the mess. He, of course, needed multiple surgeries and had a very long hospital stay. I saw him a few months later when he was admitted for another issue. He was down to 90 lbs. from about 150 and was getting fed through a PEG tube.
He was very lucky to be young and otherwise healthy—but obviously not very smart.
104. Seeing Red
I’m that patient. My dad is a doctor, and as a kid, I called him in a panic because I was peeing blood. Mind you, we were in Africa at that point and he was doing development work. Told me not to flush and rushed home.
Just to clarify, my dad was in the middle of a meeting with a bunch of big kahunas from different NGOs and I ruined that instance for him.
I’d eaten beets.
105. The Milk Is For The Baby
I saw a patient who was concerned because she was still lactating, despite the fact that she stopped breastfeeding her twins two years ago. She said: “Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and find my husband sucking on the breasts. He says he’s trying to drain the milk for me.” I had to explain to her that breastfeeding her husband will lead to continued lactation.
106. Allergic to Everything
Registered nurse here. I see some crazy stuff, but one thing that stands out was the time I was admitting a guy to the hospital. I can’t really remember what for but he was diabetic, had heart disease, and was generally unhealthy. Anyhow, I’m at the computer going over some admission questions with him and his 10 family members who are crowded in the room with him.
A few minutes in, he starts complaining that he’s thirsty. He needs something to drink right now. So I get on my phone and call the nurse assistant, and ask her to bring in some ice water. As soon as the words are out of my mouth the whole family screams: “NOOOO! NO WATER! HES ALLERGIC TO WATER!” Well, this is going to be a problem.
Turns out the guy had been drinking nothing but Sprite and sweet tea for years, because of his “water allergy.” The next question his wife had was “Where are we all supposed to sleep?” The whole family, 10 people, were planning to stay at the hospital with him. You can’t make this stuff up.
107. A Flesh Wound
Heard this from an emergency doctor friend of mine a while ago. Female patient comes in complaining of severe abdominal pain, nurses take vitals, ask questions, etc. Eventually, my friend sees her and, after a few questions, he has her lift her shirt.
The “severe abdominal pain” on the chart was in fact due to a gash so severe that part of her intestines were sticking out of her. No one had noticed and she hadn’t thought to mention that her organs had started leaking out. In fact, she seemed just as surprised as he was.