We’ve all made mistakes at work, but these Redditors have shared the work screw-ups that took it to a whole new level. Let's just say, none of them are going to be winning Employee Of The Month any time soon. These are the stories of the people who thought the saying was "Go big and go home".
1. Ms. Know It All
My vet tech instructor worked at a zoo in the past, and there was a co-op vet tech student there who had just finished her program. She was very headstrong and did things the way she wanted them done–not the proper way. Well, there was this rare possum, the last breeding male in captivity of its species, who had a cold. They had it in the ICU so it would have the best care. As it was so rare, and it was very important he survived.
It was time to give him his pain medication. This is given subcutaneously. In animals it is given anywhere under loose skin you can lift and inject underneath. This is commonly done at the base of the neck. Tent skin, inject, done. My instructor is in charge of the co-op student, both are in the ICU. The student insists she can give the injection, so my instructor gives her the go-ahead as it is a simple procedure, and she's been trained. You really can’t mess up...easily.
This girl goes to inject at the base of the neck, but isn't lifting the skin out of the way. Instructor says how to do it correctly. This is where things started to go wrong. The student refuses and insists she was taught at school that she didn't have to tent the skin. After a mild dispute the instructor says whatever, he will be fine. And the student proceeds with the injection.
Well, the possum starts seizing. She had given him the injection into his spine. You couldn't do that easily if you tried. At worst, she could theoretically give the injection into muscle...not the spine. The poor guy didn't make it. The LAST BREEDING MALE IN CAPTIVITY PERISHED because of this student’s ignorance. I’m pretty sure my instructor wrote her name down so she would never accidentally hire her in the future.
2. I’m Just The New Guy
Back in the mid-2000s, I was working at a small financial firm. One day, I accidentally clicked the "sort by column" in an Excel spreadsheet with every client’s address and information. We probably had over 500 clients. Well, unbeknownst to young little me–I was 18, far younger than any other person in the office–that shuffled every single address, so none matched up with the clients' names.
That weekend, several pieces of mail were sent to each address. Come Monday, well...NONE of the mail was sent to the right address. It was pure chaos. Clients were mad. Co-workers were mad. Management was mad. Overall? The mistake cost about $15,000 dollars. No one ever found out it was me, as I was young and not high up in the company. And nearly every single person had looked over that spreadsheet at one point in time.
Yeah, I felt awful about it. No, I never said anything. They spent weeks trying to figure out what had happened, and honestly, I didn't realize my mistake until after the whole mess transpired.
3. Spoiler Alert!
I’m a paralegal. I had transcribed a recorded phone call. At home, I was reviewing the tape and the transcription when I received a phone call from my husband. Instead of hitting "Pause," I hit "Record," and recorded over the ONLY copy of the phone call. By the time I realized what I'd done, it was too late. I had to explain to my boss, who had to explain to a judge why in the middle of this heated conversation about a custody dispute they were listening to my half of a phone conversation with my husband about the plot of Lost.
4. Enjoy The Show
I was 18 and just hired at a movie theater in Seattle. The manager told me to clean the bathrooms. I asked him what I should use and he said "bleach and a mop". I grab the gallon of bleach, mop, and bucket. I get to work. Not knowing, of course, that you need to mix bleach with water. So, I pour half a gallon of bleach, with no dilution, all over the bathroom floor.
Within about 90 seconds, my eyes and nose start burning. I walk out to ask if I did something wrong, but I can't find the manager, so I just wait at the concession stand for him. Then, little did I realize, disaster struck. A few more minutes pass, and people start to trickle out of the theater next to the bathroom, complaining about the chemical disaster I'd just committed next to them.
First a few people, then a steady stream, some with tears in their eyes. The manager finally shows up, and by then, the fumes in the bathroom have turned it into a poisonous wasteland. The theater had to be evacuated, and everybody had their money refunded. I didn't get fired, and, in my karmic defense, the movie playing was Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. So, in all honesty, the patrons should have thanked me, really.
5. Jesus Take The Wheel
My co-worker did a tire change, and put the tires back on, but only tightened the lugnuts a few times by hand loosely. They’re then supposed to be secured with a torque wrench to the proper setting. But he forgot to do that. The customer is driving down the highway, when they finally come loose, and the tires just fly off.
6. It Gets Worse?!
At my old job, this was called the Perfect Storm. I worked in a call center for an oil field. The foreman would call in oil. We'd type in the order number, create an order for the oil to be picked up by our trucks, and send it off to dispatch. The poor call center girl got the number off by one digit. So instead of picking up oil in the eastern part of our state, they picked it up in the western part of our state.
Now usually this wouldn't be a major issue, but this particular time, the oil that was supposed to be picked up was H2S, which is extremely poisonous. The foreman, knowing he'd done his job, left for the weekend. The H2S oil kept pumping, filled up to max, and spilled over the edge and onto the ground. This is where it gets expensive.
The EPA has to come out and assess. We are fined for that of course. There also happens to be a farmer who lives right next to the pump. His soil is tainted for the next seven years. Not only do we have to pay fines, we have to pay this farmer for his crops that won't grow now. $15 million+ mistake. Because one digit was off.
7. His Milkshake Didn’t Bring All The Boys To The Yard
He was supposed to make a vanilla milkshake. Add a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream to the tin, add some milk, mix it together with the machine, voila. One problem: we had large tubs of ice cream in a freezer compartment, and large tubs of butter in an adjacent fridge compartment. So this kid ended up scooping about five large scoops of chilled butter into a tin, and mixing it with milk.
Then he served it to a customer. He didn't wonder why the consistency was off, or wonder why the "ice cream" was being kept at fridge temperature instead of freezer temperature. It was just a runny milk and butter slurry. I ended up having an angry customer wave me over from across the room to ask why his milkshake was so disgusting.
8. That Didn’t End Well
His mistake cost him his life. I worked at a box corrugation plant, and this dude was notorious for taking shortcuts that would save him about five seconds of time. At the end of a massive machine was this lift machine where the flattened boxes would get stacked one by one as they came out of the machine. The lift starts high, and as more flattened boxes accumulate in it, it lowers down based on sensors. When you're going to go underneath the lift you're supposed to lock the machine out, which disables that entire section of the machine. Then it places multiple supports under the lift in the event it falls.
Johnny Shortcut didn't do any of that and the two-tonne lift dropped 10 inches right into his head, ending him instantly. Witnessing the aftermath of that haunts me to this day. I heard the insanely loud crash from the other end of the machine, ran over, and there's him lying lifeless. Nothing I could do either.
The lift malfunctioned and I can't move two tonnes. I simply called emergency services. The crazy part was that since the lift was all messed up, nobody could get it to move. So the dude was trapped under there for almost a full day until the company that made the machine was able to get it back online. All while knowing there's a body only a few feet away from them.
9. I’ll Never See You Again
My professor used to work at NASA and was part of a team that was sending up an experimental self-parking $1.1 billion satellite into geosynchronous orbit. Someone got confused and somehow got a decimal place wrong by one order of magnitude. They launch, and the satellite goes up. Instead of self-parking itself into orbit, it blasts off away into space never to be seen again. His whole team was canned, and now he teaches low-level programming.
10. Here We Go Again
Some rookie working on an oil rig accidentally drops a piece of equipment that's about the size of a football down the drilling pipe, jamming the whole thing. This meant that the entire drill assembly had to be shut down and pulled up, all 1km of it, piece by piece. This is a process that took almost an entire day and cost the company a ton of money.
Finally they get it out, remove the part, and put everything back down the pipe. At which point there's been numerous calls from corporate, hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity, and at least a 40-hour delay. The entire crew is standing around the deck of the drilling rig, exhausted and covered in oil, grease, and who knows what, thankful that the entire ordeal is over.
At which point the head of the rig turns on the poor rookie and starts reaming him out, right there in front of the entire team. Calling him every name in the book, telling him he'll never work in the oil industry again, and threatening to ruin his life. Finally, he fired him on the spot. It was brutal—but then I saw the most epic revenge I've ever witnessed. The rookie turns around, walks up the edge of the drilling rig, and punts that piece of equipment right back down the hole. The entire deck was in such shocked silence, you could hear the piece bouncing off the walls around as it made its way down the entire length of the kilometer-long pipe.
11. Are You Sure About That?
My first day working as a receptionist at a vet clinic: I was still pretty unfamiliar with the software used for documenting what was to be done during a clinic visit. I didn't know what to put in for a puppy's first rabies vaccine and no one was around to ask, so I just guessed and checked off something called RabiesLAB.
A few minutes later, the vet seeing the puppy pulled me out back and asked if I'd made a mistake. Turns out, I'd called for a rabies lab test, not a vaccine. Turns out, a rabies test involves slicing a dog's head off and having it shipped off to have its brain tested for rabies. So, I basically called for a puppy to be beheaded on my first day.
12. Silence Is Golden
My mom is an OB/GYN and early on in her career, she gave a woman the scare of her lifetime. She was performing a C-section, and she dropped her scalpel on the floor. Before she could think, she blurted out "oh no" 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.
13. That Escalated Quickly
Back when I tested video games, our senior producer put the wrong year on the first-party submission paperwork. This caused it to be rejected, which caused our game to miss its shelf date, which cost the company $25 million in penalties and fines. This said nothing of how much lost revenue there was from people who showed up to buy the game on the advertised release date, only to learn it wasn't actually out yet. Missing the release date also voided the bonus clause in nearly every developer’s contract, costing each of them tens of thousands of dollars in lost wages. How do you not know what year it is?
14. No Umbrella Big Enough
I have a mile-long list of the stuff our completely incompetent project manager did, but the best was insisting that a $3,000 load of fertilizer still absolutely had to be delivered as previously scheduled. Despite the company warning against it, as we were expecting heavy rains that day. The entire pile was washed away within a couple of hours.
15. Seafood Snafu
While in university, I worked at a seafood retail shop that specialized in lobster. One of my professors came into the shop and wanted to buy a very large quantity to take with her at Christmas to her family in California. She had a very large family and wanted 150 pounds. It was a good sale and I was looking like a champ.
Our company specialized in shipping live lobster around the world. We had special shipping boxes and packed them in two large boxes with gel packs. They were really concerned about them lasting the trip. Feeling like a pro, I suggested maybe packing them in dry ice just to be safe. The next day, disaster is breaking loose at our airport location and I am being chewed out by my manager, the general manager, and the president/owner.
They arrived at the airport and were advised by the airline they cannot take dry ice on the plane. Mad, they go to our retail location at the terminal. The staff don't know what to do, so they start taking the dry ice out of the boxes and dumped it into a mop sink. An employee burnt her hand on some ice as well. When the sink was full, some moron had the idea to run water and "melt" the ice. Of course, a blanket of fog filled the shop and spilled out into the corridor causing general mayhem.
My helpful advice on lobster packing for air travel turned the airport into a Ronnie James Dio concert. Afterward, I dropped the class as I could not face the prof. The company had to express ship replacement lobsters for the customers. All the staff got training on acceptable shipping practices and methods. To this day, I have no idea how or why I was not fired for that.
16. Dairy Disaster
As a teenager I worked at Dairy Queen. First day, they put me in the drive-thru with two female and also teenage co-workers so I can watch and learn how to make whatever they're making. I watch them make a few Blizzards and figure it's easy: You just put ice cream and candy/topping into the cup, stick it in the blending thing, flip the switch and mix it up. Which, yes, it is that easy, except...
One of the girls training me finally says, "Okay, you can make the next Blizzard that gets ordered". Somebody orders one, and it's a Nerds Blizzard. She advises that Nerds have a tendency to push through the side of the paper cup while blending, so you have to use two cups. What she doesn't mention was that when you do this, you have to keep a finger on the inside cup while you're blending.
This keeps it from spinning around in the outside cup. I flip the switch, and the inside cup starts spinning furiously. The contents of the cup begin to fly out, and both girls start screaming. By the time I flip the switch again, I have spackled vanilla soft-serve and Nerds all over every square inch of the drive-thru–not to mention both girls and myself.
17. Nobody’s Perfect
While taking measurements on a circuit board, I accidentally touched a high-voltage power line. I bounced around inside an aluminum and magnesium cabinet for a few seconds before being thrown out the small access panel and across the lab. When I came to, I saw about $10,000 USD worth of military electronics smoldering and fried.
I cleaned up in the lab for the rest of the day. The next day, my boss came and asked "WTF?" I confessed all. He laughed and said, "We were waiting for you to break something. Everybody does it. Just don't hurt yourself next time".
18. Employee of The Month
The office we worked in was shut down due to COVID, and the company went 100% remote. A new senior engineer was hired to work directly with our product team, and also manage a team of developers. During our company-wide weekly Zoom meeting, he turned his camera off, but forgot to put himself on mute after he was done presenting.
Over 100 people heard this man playing Fortnite and talking down about the company to someone else in the background among other things. He only lasted a month.
19. She Paid The Price
I mistakenly charged a customer twice on their American Express Card. Instead of $6,000 it was $12,000. They were having a company Christmas party that night and were going to charge it on that card, but now they couldn't. When I tried to rectify it, I ended up deleting the entire $12,000. But it wouldn't show up on their account for a few days.
This caused my boss to bounce numerous checks, costing her several hundreds of dollars in fees. Not one of my best moments.
20. They Don’t Pay Me Enough For This
I worked at Starbucks, and we made our own whipped cream for the drinks. My coworker, notorious for leaving the place a hot mess, didn't put the rubber gasket for the CO2 cartridge in the whipped cream dispenser. Then he tried to take it apart. I was making a drink for a customer and hear a "PSHHHHHHH".
I turn around to find everything behind the counter was suddenly white, including my black clothes. He just stood there and said "oops," and didn't clean anything. He just left it. I just took my apron off and left for break without saying anything.
21. Thanks For Nothing!
A few weeks ago, another graduate student walked into our shared lab space and unplugged a freezer because "it was making a noise". The battery alarm was beeping. This was a -80 degree Celsius freezer full of several decades worth of cells, including included stable, transformed lines; rare cancer lines, and stem. It also contained purified enzymes, antibodies, and a host of other things. My professor estimates the loss at around $2 million. This is preventing some people in my lab from graduating with their PhDs on time.
22. Poor Guy
I'm going to burn for this, but, when I was 16, I worked at Sears Portrait studio. An old man came in for photos for a dating service. He seemed super nervous but was dressed to the nines, in a wonderful old-fashioned suit and tie. He said he had rosacea, and his face was pretty red and blotchy, so he wanted to make sure we used the glossy lens to help cover it up a bit. Otherwise, he didn't think he'd have any luck.
I took his photos, and was getting everything set up. Then I noticed that I had forgotten to apply the glossy lens and his rosacea blotches were very, very visible. I panicked, because my boss was terrible, so if I had to redo the entire shoot, it'd really be bad. I didn't know what to do. I went to another coworker and explained what happened, and they said not to mention it to him, but try to sell them as they were.
He probably wouldn't ask about it, right? It was the very first thing he asked about. Then, in a moment of terrible, self-preservation fueled teenaged callousness, I told him that I HAD used the glossy lens, and that it was the best that could be done. I'll never forget his face, then. He looked so sad. He bought one photo and left. I still almost cry about it.
23. The Secret Ingredient
Normally cinnamon and sugar are mixed together to make cinnamon sugar which goes in apple scrolls and coffee scrolls and on cinnamon donuts. This silly human mixed salt and cinnamon together. It all got put out the front and people were buying it and coming back very angry!
24. Are You Mocking Me?
I was the new girl working as a receptionist at a large computer wholesale and networking firm. The sales manager approached me and asked me to make a page over the PA "that the Sares Meeting is beginning". I repeated it back to him, double-checking that I was pronouncing it correctly, because I apparently was not. He said, "No, no. Not Sares, Saaaaaaarrrres".
No problem, I got this. I pick up the phone and make the announcement "The Saaaaaaaarrrrees meeting is now beginning in the conference room, the Saaaaaaaarrrrreees meeting is now beginning". Before I could hang up the phone, a roar of laughter erupted throughout the whole office. The look on the poor sales manager's face is one I'll never forget.
The poor guy had a speech impediment. His Ls came out as Rs…SALES MEETING, not Saaaaaaaarrrreees meeting. I felt so bad, but man, it was funny and helped break the ice with my co-workers.
25. Why Is It Spicy?
I work at a zoo and we have some pretty dangerous animals—lions, a tiger, grizzlies, etc. So every single employee has to carry a can of super strength bear mace. You can't just go buy it at a self-defense store. This stuff is made to stop any raging animal in its tracks, so it can cause skin irritation and even nausea without even touching you.
This one seasonal girl saw a can sitting by her computer at the main lobby; it says across the front "COUNTER SPRAY," as in like "counter defense spray. But she thought it was counter as in "indoor countertop desk spray". Long story short, we had to evacuate one of the largest buildings in the zoo, it’s also the only building where we could sell tickets. It was so bad: People on the third floor of the building were having trouble breathing before they even got word of what happened.
26. Horror Show
I worked for a non-profit that hired a guy in fundraising purely for his rolodex. They couldn’t care less about any of his job functions as long as he kept bringing more rich people to fundraiser parties. When the pandemic hit and we were forced to go remote, it became clear how incompetent he was with technology. He’d been coasting for years in the office by sticking to phone calls instead of email.
We had our first major online fundraiser coming up, and I warned my boss that this dude had no idea how Zoom worked; never muted himself, camera up the nose, and treated it like watching a YouTube video. But again, he was the guy inviting all the rich people to the event, so they didn’t want to "lecture him about a computer program" and "hurt his ego". I believe what happened was the worst thing I've ever seen.
In our massive 200+ person Zoom event, he set his laptop on the bathroom counter. He proceeded to take a shirtless, nasty old man dump complete with grunting, splashing, and squelching. It was so loud it drowned out the speaker. They had to end the event early because they had no way to mute him and it kept going for a full two minutes with no sign of stopping. I nearly threw my laptop out a window that night.
27. Nice Souvenir
We had a guy leaving Afghanistan from deployment make it through customs with two forgotten grenades in his backpack. He had them found while trying to clear Qatari customs after landing for his connector to the US. It didn’t go too well.
28. It Happens To Everyone
I dropped a radioactive source while drilling an oil well. That area is now sealed for the next 100 years.
29. Free Advertising
I work at a deli and frequently do catering deliveries. I use the company car, which is wrapped in that advertisement stuff with our name in plain sight. A lady cut me off, so I sped up, nearly side-swiped her, then flipped her off, forgetting that I was in the company car. Later that day, the lady called and complained. I was lucky enough to be the one that answered the phone. I assured her that I would "get it taken care of".
30. I’m Not Falling For That
I'm an emergency call dispatcher, so any mistake can be critical. The worst mistake I made was when I worked for an agency that was in a regional law enforcement building. The law enforcement department, dispatch center, and jail were all located in the same building. Part of our job was monitoring the jail radio channel and keeping an eye on the cameras.
If we ever heard the words "code red" come across the radio it meant disaster was breaking loose, and we needed to get the patrol officers down there ASAP. I was on hour 14 of a 16-hour shift and was feeling super sleepy, but I figured I could make it. Well, lo and behold, "code red" gets called. My coworker and I check the cameras and don't see anything going on.
My dumb self thinks "Oh, they're just messing around. Nothing going on". So what do I do? Get on the channel and go "Nice try, Bud. We can see you". FAIL. Control called up to us and said "Um, are you sending officers? We have a major brawl going on". Uh oh. I didn't get fired, but I got written up and a major scolding.
31. He Meant Well
I worked at a brewery that sold drinks in bottles with an unusual ceramic top. It had a small rubber washer. Ordering these from the supplier was the junior brewing staff's job. The deal was already set up by purchasing with several buy-breaks. New boy gets the job, and figures he can save money by buying a larger quantity.
This is technically true. Unfortunately, when the rubber washers arrived, they couldn't fit in the warehouse. He'd ordered 10 times the usual long-term order–well over 1 million. We ended up having to rent extra warehouse space. At least he made a name for himself.
A guy at work was told to go to the roof of a four-story building, tie a rope, grab an anchor, and come back down. He took this literally and used the rope to slide down the building. He had no gloves on, and proceeded to burn through the skin on his hands down to his bone as he held on for dear life. He kept his hands, although he had a good hospital visit. It was his first and last day on the job. The supervisor also got in trouble for not clearly explaining to take the stairs not the rope down. Unfortunately, this is what language barriers can cause.
33. The Lucky One
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 backward 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.
34. Rules Are Rules
I worked at a care home for a bit and I accidentally sprayed fly spray close to the smoke detector, which set the alarm system off. I was new and had no idea how to turn them off. If they stay on for long enough, it calls the fire brigade. Due to all the health and safety regulations, all 33 of the residents, most of whom had dementia and could barely walk, had to be evacuated despite the fact there was no fire. Still kept my job though.
35. At Least They’re Cute
At a Petco, all the Guinea pigs were in a big plexiglass enclosure with a center divider. Boys on one side and girls on the other. An employee decided that all the long-haired Guinea pigs should be on one side and short-haired on the other. It took forever to sort them out, and all the females were pregnant.
36. Eau De Rank
I worked in a veterinary hospital for a good number of years. One day, unknown to me, some little girl had found an almost lifeless seagull with her family, and brought it in to see if we could help it. But it had passed by the time they arrived. Our veterinary technician took said bird for disposal, but was too busy to deal with it then. Instead, he just packed the box with the lifeless bird into our storage area with dozens of similar boxes and just leaves it there.
Days go by, while he is still working, and I come back on shift and something is seriously rank in the office. Customers are complaining! No one knows what would cause it, but I eventually find the box buried beneath other supplies. I walk up to my head receptionist and say, "So... Seagull?" and watch the absolute fury grow in her eyes. The tech did not last long after that.
37. Snowball Effect
Patient with late-stage Alzheimer's had been progressively getting sicker. He used to be a walker and wanderer, but eventually just got a bit sicker each day and bedbound. Everyone kept giving his meds like normal. Ate less, tummy became distended. He was found unresponsive in his bed, apparently vomited, and passed.
The nurse's aides were in charge of cleaning him up. One went to clean the strange vomit that came out of his nose. She wiped it with her gloved hands. That's when she made a disturbing discovery. It was poop. He had poop coming out of his nose. He apparently had a bowel obstruction and it got so bad to the point that everything backed up and he was vomiting up his own undigested food and fecal matter.
A simple monitoring of his distended stomach would've revealed that. A simple charting of his last bowel movement would have revealed that. Nobody could find when his last bowel movement was, and the charting that should've been done apparently hadn't been done in months. It could've been caught. He didn't have to pass that way. All those little negligent mistakes eventually lead up to one gigantic mistake.
38. The Grudge
I work at a vet clinic. We have a contract with a local pet cemetery to do cremation services for our patients that pass away or get euthanized. The cremains are shipped back to us with a packing list that we have to sign and mail back stating that we got all the urns and that they were in good condition. She unpacked and put away the other urns and signed the form, then proceeded to throw the box in the dumpster...with the last urn still in it.
What made the situation really infuriating was that the urn contained the ashes of my pet. The package came in on my day off and when I came in the next day, I saw the clinic's copy of the packing list with my pet's name on it, but no urn to be found. Fortunately another coworker had the idea to check the dumpster and the urn was still there and not damaged. I didn't like her before that, but I hated her guts after.
39. I Didn’t Sign Up For This
I worked at a Barnes & Noble a few years ago and was bitter about it because I was hired to be a "bookseller" and ended up being a "cafe worker". I wanted to deal with books, not freaking bagels. So one night when I closed up the cafe alone, I wiped down the counters. When I got to the disgusting cutting board, instead of cleaning it, I just flipped it over.
Honestly, it would have been easier to just wipe the tomato slices and crumbs off of it. So the next day, the store manager calls me into her office, and tells me she has something to show me on her computer. Playing on the monitor is a freaking looping video of me flipping the board while I'm looking straight up into the surveillance camera in the corner, winking.
40. That’s Not Supposed To Happen
I work as a nurse's assistant. When I was brand new to this field, I was working at a nursing home. I rolled a 90-year-old patient over onto their side, away from me, to wash their back. Rolled them right off the other side of the bed. Their head landed in the trash can.
41. Never Make The Same Mistake
I worked at a laboratory at a hospital. A coworker gave me a note with a name on it and said "When this patient's sample comes down, please set it aside and let me know. They need to run a test, and it has to be on uncentrifuged blood". Time goes by and I'm doing my normal duties processing the incoming samples. The coworker comes back, and asks me where her patient's sample is. She says it's been marked as received.
I realize I completely forgot to watch for it and had handed it over to the next station. It had been centrifuged. The patient was a very small, and very sick premature infant. The sample collected was a relatively large tube that had to be taken from the vein in her forehead, because that was the only place they could get it. Since the sample was no longer usable, they had to recollect.
My coworker was livid. The NICU nurse was livid. The patient's parents were livid. I felt so bad, I cried. I then had to watch for the new sample to come down. I have never kept my eyes open for a specific name so hard in my life. I apologized so many times that it was obnoxious. I swore to my coworker that it was a mistake that would stick with me and that it would absolutely never happen again.
And it didn't. That experience was so thoroughly awful that it impacted how I prioritize tasks. In the end, it made me better at my job, and better at all positions I will ever hold for the rest of my life. I'm so sorry lil baby girl. I hope you got better and are happy and strong and excitedly waiting for the snow to melt so you can ride the new bike you got for Christmas.
42. Context Is Everything
While my wife was having her C-section for our daughter, she overheard one of the nurses say "there's only nine". 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. I keep assuring her that our daughter was perfect, which she was. We found out about 10 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 2 hours in x-ray because they thought they had left a tool inside my wife, and stitched her up. They found the missing tool, not inside my wife, a couple hours later, so that was a relief.
43. How The Sausage Gets Made
They don't bother to train anyone they send to wash dishes at my work. They just throw them in the pit and tell them to do the job. Sometimes that leads to catastrophic what-the-heck-do-I-do-related failure. One thing that is never explained is that you are supposed to change the dishwater in your machine to keep the dishes actually coming out clean, because the machine reuses the same water over and over.
One line cook got sent into the pit on my day off. Never changed the water once. By 8 PM, the white plates were coming out butter-colored and speckled with ash. It was disgusting. Rather than figure out something was amiss and ask how to fix it, he instead took to wiping down each individual plate with a rag so that the slime wasn't as obvious. Then sent them out to have people eat food off of them. Health department would have had a conniption if they heard about that. I know I did.
44. Stuck With You
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 mom 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"
45. Always Double-Check
I worked at a restaurant. An entire table of six people got up to go to the bathroom. The table was empty, so I assumed they left and threw all of their food away, and emptied all of their drinks.
46. Called Out
When I worked at a retirement plan call center during the global recession, we had some new dumb kid on his first solo day on the phones making outrageous promises to every caller. He said they were either getting their money back or getting a guaranteed profit. On investments in the open market. What? Not only can you not do that, it's against regulations to promise investors a specific rate of return on a variable investment.
The worst part was customers called him on it and said that didn't sound right. His response was "I'm on a recorded line, everything I say has to happen!" He was let go fairly quick.
47. That Was Catty
I worked at a pet store and we had weekly cat adoptions. One day a cat freaked out and got loose. It ran over to the area I was working in, and someone tossed me a towel to help catch it with. Due to liability issues, I was not supposed to get involved, but I was caught up in the heat of the moment. I never should have gotten involved. I wrapped my arm with the towel, and went for the neck, but the cat didn't care. It squirmed until it got out of my grip, then bit right through the multiple layers of the towel. It punctured the joint core of my right pointer finger.
Red everywhere. I had to go to the hospital to get the wound irrigated since that kind of injury is guaranteed to get infected. I disobeyed company policy, and made a big mess of it for myself and everyone involved. Fortunately, I was otherwise a great employee, and my boss respected me enough to never bring it up again knowing that I would never make the same mistake.
48. Switched At Birth
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 passing. He wasn't going to make it. My brother was in charge of informing the families. That's when he made the worst mistake possible.
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 struggling 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 or hope, and have it ripped away from you not even an hour later. That was the most upset I've heard my brother. He felt destroyed.
49. It Didn’t End Well
I used to work for a veterinarian, and one of our tasks was to euthanize sick animals. The veterinarian usually left this task up to the other technicians and myself…until one day, we put the wrong dog "to sleep". I still feel awful about it to this day. Both dogs were sick, and both were poodles. I was instructed to "go get the sick poodle ready for euthanasia..".
50. That’s Gotta Hurt
When I was in 5th year of dental school, I had to treat a very nervous patient. I was in the middle of a crown restoration, which I had only performed a few times up until then. I was concentrating really hard. Suddenly, the patient jumped and her reaction was to close her mouth and jerk away from me. All with the drill in her mouth, spinning at high speed. It was absolutely horrific.
It just sliced through her insides like butter until the drill finally came to a stop. Before I could react and by the time the drill stopped spinning in her mouth, her tongue was almost amputated. My heart and mind experienced sheer terror. Time slowed down and I felt like my head was in a vacuum. I came back to reality hearing my tutor just screaming at me.
The patient survived of course. But I was training in a rural town, and that night was the loneliest night of my life. I knew I had to wake up and go back to that hospital and pick up that drill tomorrow morning. I didn't know how on earth I would do that. I spent the entire night organizing myself. I was going to leave dental school and do something else with my life. I couldn't go back again. It was like a feeling of vertigo now. I wasn't coming back from something like that. I could just hear the screams and the sound of flesh splitting apart.
I woke up that morning and for some reason unknown, don't know how or why, I went back to that hospital. Picked up the drill and made it my goal to make it through the day. For the next year, my plan was just to make it through the day. A year later, it was just make it through the week. Until 10 years later, I now have my own clinic. Life is pretty good, and that was the biggest mistake I ever made.
51. Too Little Too Late
I used to work in the pathology department at a major US medical center. A coworker once caused a case cross-contamination where biopsy material from a patient that was positive for cancer was mixed into a biopsy of a lymph node from another patient's neck. The fallout was absolutely brutal. This caused the cancer-free patient to undergo numerous rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment and, eventually, had a radical neck dissection. The surgeon essentially took out all the lymph nodes in your neck to see how many and which ones are positive for metastatic cancer.
It was only at this point, where all the lymph nodes were found to be benign, that people realized something was wrong and the case was investigated. It was tracked back to the initial biopsy. Besides the horrible few months that patient must have gone through, I'm sure the hospital got sued for at minimum several hundred thousand dollars–more likely millions.
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