Even though they see dozens of patients day in and day out in their line of work, every doctor, nurse, and medical professional still has that one case that stays with them, whether it's hilarious, tragic, or somewhere in between. Well, button up those lab coats people, because these Redditors have shared their most outrageous stories below.
1. Worse Than Crying Over Spilt Milk
I had a patient who was lactating, but not pregnant or breastfeeding. A previous doctor told her it was residual from her baby that had been weaned for 14 months...it was very bizarre. I sent her immediately for a brain scan. Well, it turns out that she had a brain tumor. She had surgery a week later to remove it and, thankfully, is doing very well now.
2. Spick And Span
I’m a surgical tech, and we were doing a skin graft on a burn patient. In those types of surgeries, you have two different operative sites if you're taking the skin graft from the patient and not using cadaver skin. This means I have two different surgical teams going and only one me bouncing back and forth and assisting both the teams.
This was also at a university hospital, meaning I have attending surgeons, residents, and medical students all working alongside. If you work in surgery, you know that unless you're the tech, YOU DO NOT TOUCH THEIR TABLE OR ANYTHING ON IT. As we're doing the skin harvest, you have to keep the skin moist until it's ready to be transplanted on the site.
I wrap mine in damp sponges and keep it on my table. I bet you can see where this is going. I turn back to my table and the sponge WITH THE SKIN IN IT is gone. I look everywhere and finally stop everyone from working to ask who has the damp sponge that was on my table. A resident told me my table was "too cluttered" and he threw the sponge in the trash. I saw red.
I've never had to scold a doctor so bad in my life. Not only did he touch my table, he threw away an item that needs to be accounted for after surgery, and it had specimen in it. Since the skin was no longer sterile, we had to use cadaver skin, and you know who pays for that? The PATIENT. So, a note to all the baby docs, please don't touch your scrub's table unless we okay it.
3. What An Old Wind Bag
I'm not a doctor. I’m a dental hygienist. Back when I first started, I had a client who came in to get her teeth cleaned. She was the sweetest little old lady with tons of energy and was full of life. I got her comfortably seated in the chair, leaned her back, and started scaling away, which is the dental term for removing plaque/tartar or "bringing the pain".
Halfway through the appointment, I got a terrible feeling. My stomach started to grumble. She poked fun at me for it and we both had a laugh. Minutes later, the grumbles in my stomach made their way down…like way down. It took everything I had not to pass gas with this sweet lady's head between my legs. Despite my best efforts, I had to let it out.
I figured that if it’s going to force its way out, I might as well make it a silent one. I straightened up my posture and leaned ever so slightly towards my tray of instruments to "swap for a new one." I must have miscalculated or something because what was supposed to be silent gas, turned out to be one of those toots that sounds like an earthquake.
That nice old lady looked at me with a look that was one part bewilderment and another part amusement. All she said was, "There you go, dear! Now I don't feel so bad for letting a few go myself out in the waiting room!" Needless to say, she has been my favorite client to this day.
4. Measure Twice, Cut Once
I work in the pathology lab where the hospital sends all the specimens. One day, a surgeon did a double mastectomy based off a different hospital’s pathology report. The report said the woman had the kind of cancer where both bosoms need to be removed. But when we examined her specimens, we made an utterly disturbing discovery.
We found zero cancer in either bosom. Obviously, the surgeon was beside himself and made us look through both parts IN THEIR ENTIRETY...It’s unheard of to submit all the tissue like this, but he needed to find cancer. I’ve never seen a surgeon stand there and watch the pathologist like this guy did. We all felt so bad for him and of course the patient.
He was so upset, cussing up a storm the whole time and screaming about “this is why I never take outside pathology reports!” Turns out, the other lab had mis-labeled her tissue, so some other lady got the all clear who had cancer, while she lost all of her bust when she didn’t need to. All around a horrible situation, and the surgeon was sick over it all.
5. Epiphany Moment
When I was in medical school, one of my professors used to tell this story all of the time. He was giving a routine exam to an 18-year-old girl who was about to go off to college. Before the exam began, he noted that she had a very athletic build, healthy complexion, and was very good-looking. After viewing her medical charts, he noticed that she was not on birth control.
Since she was rather pretty and about to go off to college, he asked her about it. Apparently, this 18-year-old girl had never actually had a period. When growing up and going through puberty she visited other doctors who told her to keep waiting because her body fat percentage was too low to have periods. My professor had one of those “A-ha” moments.
So, he asked her if she would like to have a pelvic exam and she agreed. Halfway through the exam, he discovered a "nub." That’s when it hit him. It all made sense; “she” was actually a “he.” This beautiful 18-year-old girl was actually born a boy with high amounts of estrogen and had inverted reproductive organs. It was quite the discovery.
Instead of breaking the news himself, my professor referred her to another, more sensitive, female doctor. I don’t know how that conversation went. “Hey, you're actually not a girl. You’ve been a guy your whole life and you need to have your inverted reproductive organs surgically removed because they could turn into cancer. Oh, and you probably shouldn't go to college right now."
6. Cut Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face
This patient came in with an abdominal bleed. The doctor was in the middle of surgery and the current patient's vitals were good, so we monitored her until the doctor is finished with his surgery. Two hours later, the OR sent for the patient, but she refused. Her reason made me shake my head. She said that if the doctor could make her wait for surgery, then he could wait for her...as if it was a game of petty revenge.
Nothing worked to change her mind. After several rounds of doctors and nurses educating her and begging her, the surgeon came down to see what was going on. After speaking with her for a while, he came out of the room and said, "Keep monitoring her and don't feed her—she'll come one way or another." Several hours later, I was taking a set of vitals and talking with the patient when she just flatlined in the middle of a sentence.
Luckily, she came back right away. It’s safe to say the incident shook her to her core. After she felt a little better, the patient apologized profusely and signed consent for her surgery. We rushed her to the OR. It just boggled my mind that she almost did herself in. Some people have more bitterness than brains, apparently.
7. A Swing And A Miss
Recently, my eight-year-old grandson went for his surgery to have a cyst removed from his thyroid gland. It’s supposed to be a simple surgery—you go in the morning, and come home in the afternoon. An hour later, my son (the dad) calls me. Something went horribly wrong. My grandson is being rushed by ambulance to the local hospital with a children's wing.
Apparently, the damage was so severe that the surgeons at the new hospital didn't even know what to do. The original surgeon had cut my grandson's vocal cords, and he cut a hole in his larynx. They then called to talk to experts at Seattle Children's Hospital. My grandson has been sedated and ventilated this entire time.
The following day, the doctors recommend my grandson be flown to Seattle Children's Hospital. The mom gets to fly with my grandson, my son drives over by himself. They arrive Friday morning, and the new surgeon does the six-hour repair surgery from 5-11 pm on Friday night. My grandson spent the next week under sedation and on the ventilator.
After that, the new surgeon opened my grandson up again to take a look and told my son and daughter-in-law that everything looked better than he had even hoped for. The surgeon had three goals. First, that my grandson would be able to breathe on his own and not need a tracheotomy. Second, that he would be able to eat and swallow on his own. And third, that he would still have his voice.
Yes, that’s how bad this was. But after two weeks in Seattle, they came home and my grandson is doing fantastic! He does have to go to Seattle to see his wonderful surgeon every few months to have scar tissue scraped from his vocal cords. Still, he is doing awesome, and that surgeon succeeded in meeting every one of his goals.
Two other items: My grandson has wanted to be a voice actor since he was four years old. And then finally, the worst thing. The original surgeon that messed up called my son and told him that once he opened my grandson up, he saw that it was not a cyst on his thyroid gland, but a lymph node. Yet he continued to perform the surgery! My son and daughter-in-law have a malpractice suit against this doctor.
8. Forgive And Forget
When I was a kid, I often had surgeries to treat my genetic condition called osteochondromatosis. My surgeon came highly recommended, and although he didn’t have the best bedside manner, he was very good at his job. I went in once to get some plates put in both knees to correct the bowing growth and also to have a bone spur removed from my left foot.
Surgery went well, I’m put in recovery, and my parents come see me. My mom, however, notices something strange. “Weren’t you supposed to do both knees?” She asked my surgeon. I don’t know what his response was, as I was in dreamland, but I gather he was horrified. He’d done my right knee and my left foot...but had literally forgotten to do my left knee, which lead to me having to undergo two more surgeries than I would have.
He overall was a good surgeon. Still kind of upset about how he sort of misled us on the possibility of me developing cancer, though, but that's another story.
9. Cutting Your Teeth
Six years ago, we had a female patient in her late 20s who wanted to have a dental implant done. We told her she needed a sinus lift for her body to really accept the implant, otherwise, we could very easily perforate her sinus with the implant. She kept saying no to it even after we explained everything to her. We eventually draw up the consent form and said we needed her to sign.
She would basically agree to let us perform the procedure against her best interests. In addition, if any problems arose in the future, we would still be able to help her, but we would not be liable in any way, shape, or form. After a bit, she ended up signing the document and even took a picture of it. We did the surgery. It was just one implant, so it was a 30-minute job for us to do, not a big deal. I wish I knew then what I know now.
It was a successful operation and initial stability was achieved with no perforation of the sinus membrane. A healing cap was placed on it to prevent her from playing with it, and she was required to take antibiotics for two weeks as well as maintain her dental hygiene before she returned in six months. A month later, she called us up and said she was having a really sore throbbing pain on her cheek, which either meant a pinched nerve or a serious infection.
We prescribed amoxicillin. Two months later, she called back and said that her implant fell off and she was intending to sue. Apparently, greenish-yellow pus was oozing out of the failure site, which indicated peri-implantitis as the cause. Still, the infection should have ceased by now. At this point, we started to get suspicious, so we got the dental association involved.
Nonetheless, we offered to treat her infection for free and replace the implant for free, but she didn’t reply. Three months after her scheduled appointment, we finally heard from her again. I’d never been so horrified. She called back crying after she heard the news from her ophthalmologist that she was now at risk of going blind in one eye.
Another physician said she had a major infection along all the major nerves on one side of her face, a massive amount of pus in her nasal and optical sinus, pus squirting out of the corners of her eye, and possibly even an infection at the lower parts of her brain. That’s when she confessed everything. She admitted to us that she never bought any of the prescriptions. She regretted all of it, and couldn’t stop crying over the phone.
We wanted to help her still, but she hung up and we couldn’t call back. We don’t know what happened to her, but we hope to this day that she’s OK.
10. Fatal Flaw
When I was in medical school, I had a gentleman in his late 60s come in for chest pain. We found he had suffered a large heart attack, but he refused surgical treatment because he wanted to bring his car home and planned on taking an ambulance back to the hospital. Apparently, he was in the parking ramp and it cost $20 a day to park, so he didn’t want to pay.
He came back by ambulance and my worst fears happened—he went into full cardiac arrest with no pulse and quickly passed. The doctor had to call his son and explain what happened. The son was like, “Yeah that sounds like dad, he’s always been cheap.”
11. Dr. Feel Good
I remember this one patient I had. She was in labor and I had to check her cervical dilation. Now, the way that's done is by doing a digital vaginal exam and estimating the gap with the index and middle fingers in a “V” shape. Most of the time this is pretty routine and, to be honest, the patient is usually too distressed by the contractions to care.
This one patient, however, seemed to respond to my examination in a totally unexpected way. She went from, "Argh! Ouch!" to "Ooh. Mm," very quickly. Needless to say, it took me all I had to keep a straight face.
12. You Know I’m No Good
I was working on a general surgery unit as a new nurse. An elderly diabetic patient ran over her second toe with the bedside table and her nail was ripped off. She was incredibly mean and didn’t want anyone touching her. I tried to explain the severity of her injury, especially because she was an uncontrolled diabetic and already had compromised circulation to her feet.
She still refused to let me treat the wound. She also refused care from the physician. There was really nothing we could do other than a gentle cleansing with antibiotic ointment and sterile dressings, which she eventually relented to. She was refusing everything else despite not being demented or disoriented. We just had to respect her wishes.
She had overall poor hygiene and still refused more than just the bare minimum care days later. All of her objections would eventually lead to the worst-case scenario. When she came back to the hospital, she needed to have her leg amputated. That toe was now gangrenous and everything below the knee had to go. The doctor told her she likely would have been fine if she didn't refuse treatment.
Except, after her amputation, she again tried to refuse care. We did what we had to do and eventually she was discharged back to the nursing home where she came from. Reportedly, she still sabotaged her own healing several times by introducing new infections to her wounds via neglect and carelessness. I saw her obituary in the newspaper a few weeks later.
13. Breathe Easy
I was the patient in this story. When I was between 7 and 9, I had my first port put in, which is an IV catheter attached to the main vessels in my heart. When I woke up, I knew something was wrong. My lungs were horrible already, but this was way worse. I couldn't breathe and I was in so much pain. The doctor, however, thought I was just being a kid and not handling the pain very well.
My nurse knew me pretty well, though, and after me crying and struggling to breathe for a few hours, she convinced the doctor I didn't normally act like that and that something was really wrong. He ordered an X-ray and we found out that the surgeon had accidentally sliced my lung when he was putting the port in, and my lung had collapsed.
14. I Can See Clearly Now
This happened to me with an optician. I went for my annual eye test and to get a prescription for the next year’s supply of contact lenses. I usually get the same optician every year and that visit was no different. He gave me a warm welcome to the big machine that tests your eyes. He started the test and was utterly shocked to read the results.
In great excitement, he came up to me and said, “Ma’am, we have only come across this in theory and I never knew this is really possible. Your eyesight has corrected completely! You don’t need contact lenses or glasses anymore!” I actually believed him for a moment before I sheepishly replied, “Are you sure you negated the effect of the contact lenses I am wearing?”
Turns out I was supposed to take them off at least 30 minutes before testing my eyes. Oops. The man was at a loss for words. Not sure if he was more embarrassed or I was.
15. The Failure Of The System
The caretakers at the facility where the patient was living made things so much worse. I used to visit the various board and lodge facilities in my area for adults with mental illnesses. I'd meet with clients to discuss their mental health, help them get job interviews, therapy sessions, and also set up their medications for the week if they were unable to do it themselves.
Most of these facilities were places for people who had left the hospital and were deemed stable enough to have the freedom to come and go as they pleased in a shared living situation, much like a dorm. Despite having a place to stay, they were usually pretty poorly supervised by the mental health staff workers there.
I often hated these places because, while they were ideal for some people who were truly getting back on their feet, they were way too lax for many of the sicker, more isolated patients who were not at all well and slipping under the radar. Many times, they were not watched closely enough to take their medications as directed; which, by the way, was one of the requirements for keeping their housing.
There was one man with paranoid schizophrenia who was extremely quiet and kept to himself. I had met with him a few times and he seemed to be going downhill in his appearance. I urged the facility staff to closely monitor him and his medication intake, as I saw in his logs that he often skipped coming in to get his medication at all.
I was told that they were going to be sitting down with him to remind him of his living agreement and that he had 30 days to be med compliant or else he'd be kicked out. I was also told that his psychiatrist was aware of his situation and that they were thinking of sending him back to the hospital that week. Apparently, this never happened. The consequences were devastating.
He acquired a knife and used it to slice up his roommate in the facility while his roommate slept. He carved him from mouth to ear and pierced him in the stomach several times. The man survived the attack, but the man who had gone off his medication claimed the roommate was poisoning him through the window AC unit.
For anyone with a violent incident like that on their medical report, it is incredibly unlikely he will ever be able to find a better rehabilitation house ever again that will accept him. The system basically screwed over two people that day, as the man who was hurt was already there for PTSD...As you can imagine, it not only scarred him physically for life but exacerbated his problems with more trauma.
16. A Mistake Of Magnitude
I had a throat cancer patient. We offered him surgery to remove the tumor and it was actually a fairly conservative procedure. He left because he didn't want a “mutilating” surgery. Instead, his daughter-in-law had been studying magnet therapy and she was "quite good with it" (his words). He came back a year later, it was all too late—he was out of reach from any treatment. His cancer was so advanced that there was nothing we could do for him.
17. Just A Little Tinkle
I was once checking stitches on a patient’s leg. For whatever reason, she was wearing a skirt but had decided to go commando. I’m a professional so that didn’t bother me—it just seemed unsanitary. Then, she sneezed and, well, yeah, it was definitely unsanitary. The force of the sneeze contracted her bladder and squeezed out a little urine…directly onto me.
I stood up and, in an effort to alleviate the tension, she gave an awkward grin and said softly, "I guess I did have to go." I was like, yeah, looks like you did but didn’t say anything to her. I left without a word and cleaned myself up before telling her doctor she was ready.
18. Built To Spill
We had a college student come into the ER with a wonderful case of appendicitis. He needed to get surgery ASAP, as surgery is way easier and safer if done before the appendix ruptures. He called his parents to let them know, and their response chilled me to the bone. They told him to refuse because he had a test later in the week and they didn't want him to miss it.
He left the ER “Against Medical Advice” despite all of us telling him that if his appendicitis got worse and ruptured, it could definitely be fatal. The kid luckily came back about 10 hours later after it ruptured. He got the emergency surgery and the amount of time he got to spend in the hospital probably doubled, so I’m sure he missed his test anyway.
19. Faking It
I had a repeat patient as a medic who would always call for a severe allergic reaction to shellfish every other month or so. She always had an allergy and I knew her reactions were getting worse. After a year of this silliness, my crew and I stayed in the hospital ER with her and talked at length about the situation. Beforehand, she'd always stay mum about how it kept happening.
But she finally told me the truth and what she told me made my jaw drop. She told us that she comes from a patriarchal culture and her father always made this amazing seafood soup. If she didn't eat it and "force her body not to reject his gift to the family," she would lose her car, phone, or whatever punishment her father deemed necessary.
We pleaded with her to do whatever it took to show him it was deadly and to also carry her Epi-Pens with her. Fast forward a few years later when I went into nursing and joined that ER. There she was, back at the hospital with a bloated face. Turns out, she had gone off to college in another state and hadn't been home for a while, so she visited her folks for a holiday.
Of course, she had the soup...Despite hitting herself with the Epi-Pen when her throat started tightening, the reaction continued. Her mom, who I had never seen before, told me she tried to eat it fast and rushed to the bathroom, where she was found on the floor. The medics couldn't tube her in the field, so they tried medical management until they could drive her to our ER.
The doctor performed a tracheotomy at the bedside and she went to the ICU. It took a week for her to recover and I was told by the ICU nurses that her father "finally got it" that her allergy was a real medical condition.
20. Sweep This Under The Rug
I’m not a doctor. This story comes from a good friend of mine who is a doctor though. Generally, the main question that hospital staff face when talking about work is, "What's the weirdest thing you've found in someone during an X-ray?" Well, this one old fella came into the ward via an ambulance and clearly didn't need an X-ray.
The guy’s problem was obvious from the minute he set foot in the hospital. He had a giant broomstick handle stuck in his bum. Usually, when questioned about these kinds of awkward situations, people come up with loads of excuses. But when hospital staff asked this old what happened he did not even try to come up with a tall tale.
"Well,” he started, “I was riding the [heck] out of this broomstick, holding onto the washing machine for support. But when I finished, my knee gave out. I slipped and it went right up in me. I tried to pull it out but couldn’t reach around to grab it with both hands so thought it best to come to you guys seeing as you've got to sort my knee out anyway."
21. An Unclean Cut
I’m not a medical professional, but my aunt is and I'd like to share her horrifying story. She once had a patient, a young guy in his early 20s, who had very poor hygiene. He didn't shower regularly, didn't brush his teeth, wore the same clothes for days on end, etc. One day, he came in with a nasty rash on his lower abdomen that was starting to show signs of infection.
My aunt provided antibiotics and extensively stressed to him to improve his hygiene, otherwise, it would just keep coming back. Well, as the story goes, he didn't pick up the prescription and apparently choose to just keep putting A&D Gold ointment on the area. He would live to regret this so, so much. She later found out he ended up in the ER after going into shock at work.
Turns out, he ended up getting gangrene in the area and it had spread to his scrotum, which had to be removed.
22. Mistaken Identity
I was so embarrassed for this doctor. Many years ago, I had a suction lipectomy done on my neck to remove excess fat. When I went back for a post-surgical follow-up, the doctor asked me to remove my blouse and bra. Never having been shy or modest around medical professionals, I figured he must have needed to see my neck in relation to the rest of my chest.
So, I happily disrobed and was standing there with my “stuff” hanging out when he realized that he had the wrong patient. He had confused me with someone else who had gotten an…implant surgery. He calmly asked me to put my clothes back on, and apologized for mistaking me for the other patient. I got a good chuckle out of it. But the doctor was blushing like crazy.
23. Keep Calm And Carry On
I'm a nurse. I had a very polite and lovely patient try to remove all of his chest tubes and IVs after his motorcycle accident. He was obviously delirious from the pain medications and the head injury, but he was still a nice guy. I left him in the care of my co-worker for my lunch, and 10 minutes into my lunch break, I saw him stagger past the breakroom door.
He was trailing blood everywhere, but that wasn't even the worst part—a couple of seconds later, he collapsed. He said he needed the bathroom! I don’t know how the heck he pulled his own chest tubes out. Removing them always makes me cringe, but he did it himself! He was put back to bed, this time in the ICU, and he got some more sedation.
Even though ripping it all out set him back a couple of weeks, he was still eventually discharged. He later came to say hi and thanks on the way out. The happiest delirious patient I ever had. What a bloody trooper.
24. The Mad Surgeon
I am the son of a surgeon. I went with my dad to see an elderly patient who needed to have a cast removed. I was about nine and we were going to an assisted living facility to take of this lady's cast off. She couldn’t make it to the hospital herself on account of her being so old so he was kind of making a house call. He had a little saw to remove the cast.
It was actually pretty loud and intimidating. But he touched it while it was on to show this little old lady that it wasn't going to cut her. Apparently, that little demonstration hadn’t been enough. Upon him touching the saw to her cast, she started screaming like a banshee and freaking out. She was yelling, “He’s cutting my arm off!" The poor thing was so scared.
I was also pretty scared because my dad just kept going. When we got in the car to go home, he burst out laughing saying it was just hilarious. I wasn't as amused. I’m sure that old lady nearly had a heart attack.
25. Use Your Head
When I was in school, I had an instructor who took a job as Vice President of patient care at a big American hospital. She said there was a patient who had been on the unit for a year and the hospital was footing the bill. When they told her why, it was just about the worst thing I’ve heard. He was in for a brain surgery and they had removed a large section of his skull to access the brain.
Then they dropped it on the floor. They tried to clean it up and they apparently gave him lots of post-operative antibiotics, but he inevitably developed encephalitis or meningitis or well, probably an infection of the whole head.
26. Knock, Knock
I created a pretty awkward situation for my surgeon once. When I was 21, I broke my back in a car accident. I had pretty gnarly back surgery (fused vertebrae, rods, and pins inserted in my spine, etc.). Part of my recovery involved regular check-ups with my surgeon. I didn’t mind that because the receptionist at his office was way cute.
Every time I went in for my check-up, I got the vibe that this receptionist was into me. I was too chicken to ask her out so I did some research first. I asked the doctor during one of my visits if he knew if she had a boyfriend. He pretty much told me he didn't really get into her personal life. I could respect that. It was their workplace.
Fast forward a few weeks. I saw her at a bar and started chatting with her. We sort of hit it off and exchanged numbers before going our separate ways. We set up a date about a week later to go to the beach. It went well, and she invited me over to her dad's place. She said that he would be grilling some steaks and had plenty to go around.
Well, when I got to her house, I wanted to be the one on that grill. The door opened, and I nearly fainted. Who answered it? My bloody surgeon, AKA her father. I think it was as awkward for him as it was for me.
27. Didn’t Get The Memo
After my heart operation where they went in through my femoral artery, they forgot to tell anyone outside the theatre that they had given me anticoagulants. Long story short, when I got back to the ward, my mom and dad came to visit and see how I was doing—only to walk into a horror show I had two doctors and two nurses around me, caked in blood with the back wall of the room dripping with it.
I should have been in this tourniquet thing for like 12 hours minimum after surgery, but they removed it and asked me to get up and move around after four hours. Suffice to say, it wasn't pretty and the first nurse (the one who removed it) went absolutely white. No one answered the emergency buzzer for about 10-15 minutes to help her, either.
She just kept panicking and saying, "You are bleeding out!" to me. Oddly, I was completely calm and kept offering her advice. I think it was the shock, since I tend to get very analytical instead of scared. I should also mention that the advice I gave was rubbish: "Would you like me to hold that while you go and get some help?" She met this with, "You'll be dead before I get back." "Oh ok, best for you to hold it then."
28. Cracking Up
I had one really embarrassing moment during a normal checkup. The doctor was doing the back tapping routine for any soreness because of a history of kidney stones. He was progressing towards my sides and entered the tickle zone. Now, I’m insanely ticklish but I didn’t want to break out in a giggle fight right in front of my doctor.
I managed to resist the urge to laugh, choking back my laughter. But it was a futile effort. After a while, I broke and let out the most hideous screech of laughter, unlike any sound I had ever made before. The doctor didn’t acknowledge it. The rest of the examination passed very quietly. And awkwardly.
29. Starved For Sense
This patient was supposed to have starved for eight hours for her morning-scheduled chest surgery. During the procedure, we were treated to the most disgusting sight—she regurgitated what can only be described as a partially digested English breakfast, with identifiable sausages, egg, beans, and possibly black pudding, up into her unprotected airway as she attempted to inhale the lot.
We managed to prevent the majority of it from going down, but she needed care for a day or so for her lungs to recover from the stomach acid.
30. There’s A 50% Chance It’s Raining
Before I got into medical school I worked as an orderly in an ER. At the time, the university hospital was getting all the "good" trauma and we got the routine stuff. Some of the younger and more enthusiastic nurses really wanted the more “challenging” cases, the kind of stuff you see in movies. They were a little too eager for it, maybe.
This one day, an old guy came into the triage office and the nurse asked him what his chief complaint was. The man answered, "I was shot—,” and before he could finish, the nurse leapt into action. She called out a trauma code on the intercom overhead and demanded a stretcher. All of a sudden, everyone came in running and threw this old guy down on the stretcher, and began racing him to the trauma room.
Everyone was in full “TV nurse” mode. The nurse started cutting off the man’s shirt and yelled, "Sir, where were you shot?" The man, a little confused at this point, yelled back, "In Korea!" We all looked at each other and slowly came to a halt in the hallway. Everyone turned to the nurse, who was looking quite sheepish. The old guy looked around and continued, "My knee hurts when it's going to rain.”
31. You Make My Heart Skip A Beat
I was in the hospital a couple of months ago for chest pains. The various specialists that I saw subjected me to many scans and tests because I have a heart condition. They even had to give me special medication to lower my heart rate for a CAT scan. But this one specialist wasn’t helping my situation, whatever it may have been. The reason for this was mortifying.
He was just so cute and every time he walked back into the room my heart rate would spike. Eventually, the other specialists had to kick him out. We all had a good laugh about it.
32. It Could Happen To You
I'm not a medical professional, but I used to get allergy injections to build up my immune system because of the crazy amount of allergies I had. I would get these injections every week, and I was instructed by my family doctor and the allergist to wait in the waiting room 30 minutes after the injection in case I received a reaction.
Well, one day, I decided I didn't want to wait anymore. This was also because I had already gone a few months without a reaction, so I left immediately after my appointment. Well, that ended up being the worst decision I could have ever made. I went into anaphylactic shock not even 10 minutes later. It was crazy because I didn't even know what was happening at first and I also didn't know how to use an Epi-Pen at the time.
33. Sleep Tight
I have one. It's not about a patient, but rather, a patient's family member. I had a patient in the ICU for some respiratory issue. He had chronic pain and some mental health issues at the baseline, but worst of all, he had this co-dependent girlfriend who was always VERY present at his bedside all the time.
She was constantly worrying that he wasn't getting enough pain medication or sleep. We kept reassuring her that we were giving him his medications and not to worry. The day he transferred out of the ICU, I was working a night shift and heard a code blue paged overhead.
It was for him. He had gone into respiratory arrest. Fortunately, he was found right away, intubated, and resuscitated. Back to my ICU he went. After some digging, we discovered the blood-chilling truth. We found out that his girlfriend was worried he wasn't going to be able to sleep, so she bought some Seroquel on the street and gave it to him.
He was already on his home dose of Seroquel and opioids, plus some additional opioids for the acute pain he was dealing with. The sedation from that extra Seroquel in conjunction with the rest of his medications tipped him over the edge. Once he woke up, he was mortified and asked that his girlfriend not be allowed to visit him anymore.
Of course, this presented a different problem. I had to call her and tell her she was not allowed to visit him anymore and that hospital security had been alerted. She was…not happy. The lesson: If someone is hospitalized, WE WILL PROVIDE THE APPROPRIATE MEDICATIONS. You do not need to bring in extra medications. We got it.
34. Don’t Go Alone
I was the assistant manager of a group home. We had a resident who had epilepsy and was also very reclusive. He would get agitated if we came into his room or even knocked on the door. However, our policy said he had to be checked on every 30 minutes because of his seizure risk. That wasn't being done, so I brought this up to the manager.
She said she was aware but it was okay to bend the rules because he would get really upset when we checked in on him. I really wasn't comfortable with her answer, but I was young and assumed she knew better than me. When I was on duty, I checked on him every 30 minutes and he would yell at me, but I didn't let it bother me.
About six months later, after I had been reassigned to another group home, I was met with shocking news. He had a seizure while he was alone in his room and was found cold and lifeless a day later. Now I'm older and a little smarter. When I find a problem like this, I stick with it and don't let people talk me out of it. Not again. Rest in peace. You’re gone but not forgotten, and you deserved better.
35. Doctor Handsy
This was super awkward I guess for everyone involved. I was the patient in this case. I went to the hospital to have a cyst removed from my armpit. I suppose because the armpits are so close to the chest, they needed to give me a chest examination to make sure there was nothing bad going on there. I didn’t make a big deal of it.
So, there I was in one of those ghastly gowns. The curtain twitched aside and in came a young male doctor and a female nurse (I guess male doctors are not allowed to examine female patients without another person present). The nurse, on one side, held my hand and made small talk in an effort to distract me from being embarrassed. It was kind of awkward anyway.
It got really awkward when my nips became really pointed. I was blushing from head to toe. The poor doctor who probably hadn’t examined many younger women slipped up. He said, "You have lovely [bosoms]. Uh…healthy [bosoms]." The nurse (she was of a certain age where she had clearly didn’t tolerate any nonsense) was still holding my hand and I felt her grip tighten.
I looked up and she was giving him this frightening glare in awkward silence. The doctor blushed as much as me. Those few seconds felt like an eternity—they were probably worse for the doctor. The nurse told me I would be transferred to another ward later and to relax.
36. Behind Door Number One…
I’m an ER doctor. I had a really outrageous experience when I was in training. I had a chart in the rack with a chief complaint of psychiatric evaluation. As soon as I picked it up, some of the older nurses in the department started giggling. I had no idea why until I opened up the curtain to the room. I’ll never forget the experience. In front of me was a relatively normal-looking female in her 20s.
As soon as I started asking her basic questions, I knew something was off. She was providing very bizarre answers. Then, out of nowhere, she took her hand and reached under the blanket and her gown towards her back. Her hand came up with a fistful of poop. She then proceeded to go straight to her mouth with it. It caught me so off guard I actually started laughing and walked directly out of the room and called the on-call psychiatrist.
The nurses outside had been laughing because this wasn't the first time she had been in for similar behavior.
37. Your Own Worst Enemy
I had a patient signed out by another ER doctor at a shift change pending a chest X-ray. The X-ray showed aortic dissection, meaning this guy should’ve been gone already, and I had no idea how he was even still alive. This being a small hospital in the middle of nowhere, we called the closest big hospital to transfer this guy.
The ambulance showed up for the transfer, but we were met with the totally unexpected—the guy suddenly decided he was not going. Apparently, he had enemies in that city and they’d track him down. After a standoff in the ER hallway involving security, officers, EMTs, multiple doctors, nurses, and a very scared scribe (a.k.a me), the guy got on board with the plan.
Later, we found out from the EMTs that he tried to jump out of the ambulance en route to the other hospital. Once he arrived, he left immediately against medical advice. No clue what happened to him after that, but darn, the dissection was INSANE.
38. Inside Out
I worked in ER admissions throughout college. A teenager and his parents came in one day because he went over the handlebars on his bike. The staff wanted to keep him in observation overnight, but his parents refused even after they offered to put him in a recovery room that was near the ER (and normally only used during the day for outpatient surgeries).
They came back the next day and how he looked shook us to our cores. He was white as a ghost. It turned out he had punctured some part of his digestive system in the fall and, I think, had some internal bleeding. It's the only true emergency surgery I saw in the four years I worked there when the staff actually ran to the OR with a patient. He was lucky to survive.
I'm not a doctor but an ophthalmic assistant. Part of my job is poking people in the eye with a tiny ultrasound "pen" (tonometer) to test eye pressures. It's not too uncommon for people to faint during this test, because they hold their breath or just get freaked out from sitting still having their eyes poked. It’s a common phobia.
I was administering this test to a young man, around 18 years old, while his father was in the room. His dad was going to pay for laser eye surgery and was there for support. Well, despite playing brave, the kid fainted. He fainted right into my chest. My chest was huge at the time because I was three months pregnant, so he got a soft landing.
I would normally catch a patient and assist accordingly, but this kid just fell forward before I could catch him. I dropped my pen and put my hands on his shoulders to push him back into the chair. Then he moaned, then kind of rolled his head side to side, with his face disappearing into my lab coat. All the while his dad was in the room, staring, stunned, and wide-eyed.
After the kid recovered (his dad finally stood up and helped me get his head between his knees) he was a little disoriented and glazed. He looked at his dad, who said "Attaboy." I nearly fainted from embarrassment.
40. A Little Tickle
I’m not a medical professional, but my dad had a really serious cough and I told him he had to get it checked out. He ignored me for weeks and just kept coughing away. At some point, he started coughing up blood and I essentially forced him to go to the doctor. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis which was scary enough, but then the doctor revealed an unsettling truth— if he had left it any longer, he would have been a goner.
Most of the time he had the cough, he was overseas—he gets paid to work in places like India, China, Korea. We FaceTime regularly, so luckily, I wasn't around him very much for most of the duration of his cough (or presumably when he first caught it). It was maybe a day after he came home after being abroad that he coughed up blood.
I later found out that I guess I'm really lucky I wasn't around him a lot, because I probably would have caught it otherwise.
41. Bet Your Life
Eye doctor here. I had a patient who came in and during her evaluation, I determined that her diabetes was out of control by the look of her retinas, which required immediate intervention. I sent her straight to the retina specialist who then scheduled her for an OR. She decided that day not to go in because she had work and couldn’t afford to take off any days.
She was cleaning houses and the sprays made her sneeze, causing massive hemorrhaging in her eyes due to their weakened vascular state from diabetes. The consequence of this was absolutely shocking—she went immediately blind and got into emergency surgery that day. It took months of recovery and injections to reverse some damage and she now (years later) has functional vision again.
Her kidneys were also failing her and she had no idea. This kicked off a massive lifestyle change and a chain of doctors’ appointments that saved her life. All starting from an eye exam. Of course, I understand the economic reasons to have no-showed for her surgery—it was an awful situation, but the reality is that she had to choose: go blind, or go to work.
The specialist was even willing to curb the cost of her emergency surgery due to her extenuating circumstances. She chose to go blind. Modern medicine thankfully saved her, but the decision she made was objectively the wrong one. You can’t make much money blind either. Hindsight, however, is 20/20, and she was taking a gamble.
42. Approach The Roach
A doctor friend of mine told me about a patient that he had once. This patient was morbidly obese and needed surgery for something or the other. When they were cleaning the patient to prep him for surgery, they made a shocking discovery in the folds of his skin. There was a cockroach in there. Good thing the man was out cold or he might have passed out from embarrassment.
They didn’t know how long the thing had been in there but it was obviously long enough for the thing to suffocate. Apparently, they can’t survive everything.
43. Know Thyself
One time, I went for a mini-vacation in Batam, Indonesia where our villa had a private pool. Throughout our 48-hour stay, I spent more time in the water than out. Any time I wasn’t in the water, I was in our air-conditioned villa room with just a damp T-shirt over my swimsuit. In the daytime, it was blazing hot, and at night it was super windy because we were near the sea.
I am also asthmatic. While it’s mostly under control, I usually get a tight chest feeling when I am ill. I fell sick after the trip: runny nose, cough, etc. I am also a healthcare professional—I studied life sciences and diagnostic testing, so I am hardly bothered when I get sick and can take care of myself. Eventually, most of the symptoms went away and I was left with just a cough.
The week after the vacation, I was still having that “cough,” but I ignored it. One day, we went to play paintball and I completely overexerted myself running, ducking, crawling, what have you. After the game, we went to a friend’s place to have lunch and chill. I fell asleep but woke up coughing with the feeling of something being stuck throat.
I thought it was phlegm, so I went to the bathroom to cough it out...but nothing was happening. I lost track of time and apparently, I was in the bathroom coughing away for about 30 minutes. My friends asked if I was alright and I just kept saying, “Yeah, it's just a cough, I think there’s some phlegm stuck and I’m trying to get it out.” Clearly, I wasn’t really in my right mind even then.
Finally went to see a doctor the next day. Turns out, my condition was way more serious. I was having a very serious asthma attack. I just couldn’t recognize it because I hadn’t had one in many years. The worst thing is, this was the same doctor who told me to always carry my inhaler around JUST IN CASE, but I just wasn’t diligent about it. Even now, my friends will yell, “IT'S JUST A COUGH, I’M FINE” whenever I make even the smallest cough or sneeze.
44. It's Not What You Think
A couple came into the hospital one day. The woman, who was very obese, was complaining about severe stomach pains. It didn’t seem like she was in any kind of immediate danger so the doctor just took her in for a routine examination. What he found floored him. The doctor found out that she was pregnant and that she was experiencing contractions. She was about to deliver.
The woman was in total disbelief. She said, “I take the pills every day.”
45. Fresh Produce
I work as an OB-GYN. An attractive blonde international flight attendant—a regular patient of mine—called for an emergency appointment. She sheepishly told me that she was beginning to get very concerned that she kept finding Costa Rican postage stamps inside her. Now, I had been in my job for 24 years and never heard of anything like that before.
After a full examination, she was relieved to learn they were just the stickers from the bananas.
46. I Don’t Scare Easy
My dad is an interventional and cardiovascular radiologist. Years ago, he was doing an operation on a prison inmate. The guards had the inmate handcuffed to the table and remained in the room during the operation. The inmate, in an effort to scare my father, told him that he was behind bars for manslaughter. Well, my dad doesn’t scare easy.
Without missing a beat, my dad replied to this inmate with, "The last guy I did this operation on didn’t make it either." The security guard chuckled and the inmate didn’t say another word for the rest of the procedure.
47. Take It On The Chin
I had an ingrown hair on my chin that I tried to squeeze out. In the process of doing so, the pus around the hair must have backfired and erupted. Over the course of the next few hours, my chin began to swell as if I had an abundant amount of gum or a jawbreaker stuck in my lower lip. Seeing as something was wrong, I went to the doctor the next day.
It was my first time with that particular doctor mind you which made the whole thing even more awkward. I told her the story of how my chin came to be with the added blurb of, "But at least I got that sucker out!" After examining my chin, she called in what I assumed to be a resident to see the golf ball lump that had formed on my chin.
I reacted by exclaiming, "Gee, this doesn't make me feel showcased or awkward by any means.” Apologies and laughter ensued. The doctor prescribed me some pills and my lump infection was gone within two days.
48. You Are What You Eat
I had a patient who was NPO (not allowed to eat) because he had a bowel obstruction. He didn’t like that we weren’t feeding him, so, unbeknownst to the nurses, he called up Papa John’s and ordered some garlic knots. He ate the entire box, then his ignorance came to punish him—he vomited them up, aspirated his vomit, went into respiratory arrest, and coded.
We did CPR and got him back. He had some underlying lung issues so we never could get him weaned off the ventilator. He spent a month in the ICU and was eventually discharged to a long-term care facility with a tracheotomy on the vent.
49. Lights Out, Pants Off
I was seeing a urologist in a hospital once. During my visit, there were a couple of power cuts. The lights dipped out but the generators kicked in, thankfully. As the urologist was finishing the examination, mid-sentence, the lights went out again. This time, however, the generator did not kick in right away. The urologist got up and walked out to check on things.
15 minutes later, the lights came back on. I was still sitting on the bed with my old chap out and pants around my ankles. A nurse walked past the open door and does one of those comedy double-takes. “Do…do you have an appointment?" she asked. Turns out, the urologist had actually finished the examination and returned to the ward a while ago.
To the nurse, I was just some guy who had walked in and pulled his pants down and left the door open. Awkward.
50. A Long Way Down
I reported to a car accident on the highway when I was working as a medic. The guy involved in it was fairly messed up. He adamantly refused treatment and transport. Instead, he signed himself off and started walking down the slight decline off the road where his car had come to rest after the accident. Yeah, bad idea. He made it about 10 feet from the back of the ambulance until he lost consciousness and tumbled the rest of his way down the decline.
What started off as a smack on his head and a few cuts turned into a broken left arm, serious concussion, and a nasty gash on his head.
51. You’re Not My Doctor
Although I am a doctor this story happened to my great uncle, who was also a doctor. He practiced in a rural town in Australia. So, my great uncle had a practice with another doctor named Dr. Snow. Snow had a son who had some form of intellectual disability. The way the story has been passed down, they make it sound like he was an imbecile.
Anyway, one day Dr. Snow was seeing some patients and his son, aged in his mid-20s, was hanging around the practice. Dr. Snow went off to do something and in the meantime, his son decided to play doctor. He put on the white coat and opened the door and the next patient came in. It was a pregnant woman. He asked her to undress and turned his back.
When he turned back around he looked her up and down and said, “What, no Johnson?” The woman ran screaming out one door and he ran screaming out another. I think they were both pretty embarrassed.
52. Delicious, Not Nutritious
This patient was extremely overweight and unable to swallow properly because of it. Also, being diabetic, he was put on a strict diet while in the hospital. In the middle of the night when the patient should have been sleeping, the family would wake him up and feed him KFC, chips, cakes, and other things the patient should not have had.
The result of this was so, so sad—the patient just stopped breathing. During CPR, he aspirated the fried chicken they consumed about an hour before. We were unable to bring him back. But somehow it got even more disturbing than this—the family had a “picnic” in the waiting room while we were coding the patient. That was a bad day.
53. Hard To Accept Help
I work as a medic in an ambulance. I got called in for a female who was short of breath. She was in her 50s or 60s, and when we got to her, it was obvious that she was having a really hard time breathing. Her oxygen saturation said it all—it was 60%, when normal levels are 95% or higher. We gave her oxygen and got her loaded up, but then the weirdest thing happened—she didn't want to go.
We did everything to try and get her to go, but she absolutely would not. We explained that she wouldn’t make it if she didn't go, but she still refused. So we reluctantly took our oxygen off and left. Two hours later, another crew was sent back for a person who was full-on not breathing. They never got a pulse back.
54. What A Nut
I had a guy come in with an allergic reaction to peanuts. I told him hey, no more peanuts because each allergic reaction will get worse and worse. I sent him home with a prescription for an Epi-Pen just in case he is accidentally exposed to peanuts, and I also advised him to follow up with an allergist. THE NEXT DAY, he was back—but something was very, very wrong.
He was barely breathing and his vital signs in the dumpster. His wife was with him and she told me he filled the script for the Epi-Pen, gave himself the shot ahead of time, and then ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He went through with that decision despite my strict instructions for him to stay away from peanuts. His wife said she also told him not to do it, but he didn't listen.
The guy ended up intubated and with chest tubes on both sides because his allergic reaction was so far along. He was in the ICU for two weeks because they couldn’t wean him from the ventilator, either. Last I heard, he had permanent lung damage and is on a bunch of medications just to get through the day. All for a PB&J.
55. Not Worth It
My grandmother fell and broke her hip. She had it repaired and was in a skilled nursing facility during her recovery. Now, she also had emphysema. Accordingly, she roomed with another older woman with emphysema and as I understand it, she was told repeatedly about how there was only one place outside that she could light up, and everywhere else was off-limits.
Yes, she had emphysema and flatly refused to quit even as it progressed. One night, her situation suddenly turned into a total nightmare. She got up and went into the bathroom in the middle of the night, lit one up she was on oxygen (which she wasn't accustomed to), and quite literally blew up the room. She had third-degree burns over 25% of her body and she received a bunch of grafts for them. She remained in the burn unit of the ICU for a while until her heart gave out one day.
Visiting her in the hospital was the most traumatic thing I'd ever seen. It's been about 15 years now. I miss her all the time.
56. Self Care Is Important
My friend's family member simply over-regulated his diabetes. The miracle of insulin was just so great that he ate whatever he wanted and only took insulin whenever his blood sugar got too high. Well, here's why you don’t do that at home, folks—His body lost all means of blood sugar regulation. He let a manageable case of diabetes degrade into a constant seesaw of eating too much sugar, taking insulin to stay alive, and eating more sugar when he took too much insulin.
Sometimes he would literally ask someone to go to the store for a Gatorade or a candy bar because he couldn't get off the couch. He passed a few weeks ago, after having called the ambulance from his car after taking a solo trip to a fried chicken joint. He was gone about 10 minutes before anyone arrived.
57. A Pregnant Pause
My mother is a nurse practitioner. She had a patient who wanted a pregnancy test done in the lab. She had taken multiple home tests, all of which came back negative, but she was very convinced she'd gotten pregnant after having unprotected intimacy while visiting her family in El Salvador six months earlier. My mother tried to convince her that a test given at the clinic wasn't needed and that she was most certainly not pregnant.
This incident had occurred so long ago and she was clearly not six months pregnant. My mother also pointed out that the lab fees would be expensive. But the woman still persisted. She collected some saliva and just pretended to send it to the lab. The woman was very relieved when my mother called the next day to tell her she wasn't pregnant. But there's a kicker to all this...The woman was 90 years old.
58. Cast Away
I had a patient come in stating that he couldn’t bend his knee. I asked him to remove his trousers so I could examine his leg. After he removed them, I nearly gasped. I saw that the reason that he couldn’t bend his knee was that he had a plaster cast around it. Checking his notes frantically, I learned he had been sent numerous letters asking him to come in for removal of this plaster cast.
As he hadn’t attended any of the outpatient clinics, the hospital had assumed that he had removed the cast himself. Well, I guess not.
59. Young At Heart
My cousin had cystic fibrosis, but she always wanted to feel normal and live as her friends did. She would regularly not listen to her doctors about medication and would fight against new procedures to avoid having to deal with an extended hospital stay. She was such a smart girl, but things eventually took a turn for the worst. She passed in her sleep at 22 years old when she could have had at least another decade.
Seeing some of the improvements and innovations in treatments for CF in the years since gives me hope for the kids growing up with it now. Please listen to your doctor. Days or weeks of inconvenience are far better than decades lost down the line. I miss her every single day.
60. A Head Case
We had an older patient in his late 60s who fell and hit his head. He was on anti-platelet medications for an irregular heart rate. He was reportedly stable when we were called for the fall, but we told him that because he hit his head and was on that medication, the risk of internal bleeding was very high. A CT scan was necessary at that point.
He ended up refusing, and even signed off against our medical advice. Fast forward several hours and the family called us back. What they told us made us shake our heads in disappointment. The patient was unresponsive, and at that point, we were certain that he had massive intracranial bleeding. He passed that very night, but it could have been completely avoided with a little caution and responsibility.
61. Joy Ride
I had a middle-aged neighbor in the lower apartment of our duplex. He was on oxygen continuously due to extreme COPD and he had severe memory loss, so he complained about everything all the time. The icing on the cake was that his "girlfriend" would light up like a chimney. I put girlfriend in quotation marks because I'm fairly certain that she was a predator who was only after him for his money.
Anyway, I was working in the garden one afternoon and he came flying into the garage. He parked his car and stumbled toward the door. He made it about four steps before throwing me his apartment keys and shouting at me to run inside and grab a new tank of oxygen. I was so confused until it hit me—he went out to test drive a new car…and completely ran out of air.
He was in the apartment for about another six weeks until social services moved him into a home. I hope they took his driver's license away, too. I never saw him again.
62. The Difference A Letter Makes
A nurse assisting in the imaging center obtained an order for an anti-anxiety medication called Versed to be given to a patient getting an MRI. This patient had issues with claustrophobia, so this was necessary to obtain good images with the patient. The nurse went to search for the drug in the pyxis machine. Then it went so, so wrong.
So she has to type the medication name in like a Google search in the screen to pull the drug. She types in only "Ve," which pulls up relevant substances by alphabetical order, and without looking, she clicked the first medication and gave it to the patient. Almost immediately, the patient suffocated and passed, right there on the spot. It was only afterward they found out what happened.
When the nurse typed "ve," the first medication alphabetically wasn't Versed, it was Vecuronium. The difference being an anti anxiety medication versus a paralytic medication, which paralyzed them while conscious and suffocated them.
63. Parental Advisory
I used to work in the mental health field on a hospital diversion unit. This teenage girl got admitted to my unit because she tried to end herself in a bathtub. As soon as she got admitted, she started convincing her parents to pull her out, since she could be discharged with parental permission. Against my advice, the parents pulled the girl out of the unit early. They soon learned their mistake in a brutal way.
Within the next few weeks, she successfully completed what she started in a busy part of town. It was a big story in the local papers, and that's how I found out.
64. Lend A Hand
I was assured by a patient who underwent major head and neck cancer surgery that he had a safe home plus family help waiting for him after we discharged him. After all, he’d need it, with new medicines and wound care. Days later, I came across a shocking news report on the TV. He was found unconscious in a shed with no electricity and no running water in—get this—his cousin’s backyard. It was really sad. Some people suck.
65. Free And Clear
I’m on dialysis and one of the nurses told me about past patients who, after kidney transplants, just will stop taking their anti-rejection meds after a few years because they think they don't need it anymore. It's really frustrating for the nurses because the patients who do this full-on ruin their second chance at life and put themselves right back in the same position as before.
66. Pearl Of Wisdom
I went to the doctor when I was around 16. I'd started developing allergies for the first time and wanted to get it checked out. She checked my nose and throat. Yup, sure enough, it was allergies. Then she checked my right ear and literally said, "What the heck is that?" I was like, "Oh, sorry. Yeah, I get a lot of ear wax." And she was like, "No. It's shiny."
Backtrack to four days before that. I was a rebellious teen and wanted to stretch my ears without my mom knowing. So, being the smart kid that I was, I had hot glued some pearls to the plugs so they looked like earrings. One morning I woke up and one was missing and I couldn't find it. I had to tell my doctor that my "earring" broke and I'd been looking for that pearl for days.
67. The Girl Can’t Help It
My friend told me a slightly overweight homeless woman doing substances and her butt had a necrotic spot. She came in with sepsis but was somehow still standing and talking with what he could only describe to me as near full-body organ failure. They stabilized her and she somehow survived, but her life was forever changed. At that point, she was missing half of her butt. Then, two years later, she came back again with her foot rotting off.
It was the same condition but on the leg. They amputated it and she survived again...except two weeks later, she was pushed back in on a wheelchair, drooling, and nearly gone from an OD. They put her in the ICU and her son came to visit her. At this point, the hospital staff and my friend knew her by name. Apparently, she hadn't seen her son in nearly a decade.
He convinced her to promise to try to clean up for her grandchildren. Less than 24 hours later, she OD'd again, inside the hospital bathroom, having somehow snuck her kit in.
68. Parting Gifts
I went for a physical when I was 14. At that point, I'd had my first period but it wasn't very regular yet. At school that day it just happened to start and it started with a vengeance. All I had with me was panty liners and that wasn't going to cut it so I ended up going into the bathroom and stuffing my underwear with toilet paper, like you do.
Of course, when I get to the doctor she said, "Since you're a teenager and you're going through a lot of changes, I’d like to do a check of your [crotch] just to make sure everything looks ok. Nothing internal, just external." So, I pulled my underwear down and a ton of bloody bunched-up toilet paper fell out. I tried to pick it up before she noticed but she definitely did.
She was cool about it though. Before she left the room, she gave me a "goody bag" (just a little bag with a sample of acne cream, candy, and random little toys she gave kids before they left) and slipped a pad into the bag as well. What a pal.
69. Release The Floodgates
I used to have to get regular prostate checks. The doctor doing it was a family friend. This one time, I was bent over and when it was done, I looked him in the eyes and said, "I usually make people buy me dinner before doing that." He couldn't help it he started cracking up and his nurse looked shocked. I tried to keep it fun and funny.
I was always coming up with new jokes, every six months when I would go in to visit. This one time wasn’t very funny though. I don’t think anyone was laughing. I was making fun, moaning, and staring into the nurse’s eyes. She looked so angry and the doctor started laughing. But then his hand started shaking…while he still had his hand you know where.
I couldn’t help it. My bowels relaxed because of his shaking hand and I just let it all out. The unholy motherload. All over him.
70. Let’s See Your Ink
My dad is a doctor so this is his story. Way back in the day, maybe 30 years ago, he had a patient that used to creep out all of the female nurses. He always used to tell them, "I have your name tattooed onto my [junk]." One day, one of the more curious and braver nurses decided to take a peek while the patient was asleep. Sure enough, he literally had the two words "Your Name" tattooed on his member.
71. Baring It All
My father went in to see the doctor once. After a preliminary exam, a nurse told him that she would be coming back to give him a shot. Naturally, he removed his pants completely and sat on the exam table. When the nurse returned, she looked very confused but kept her composure and gave my father the shot. In his shoulder. It’s funny now but that poor nurse was probably scared at the time.
72. Kiss And Tell
We had a mom in the NICU who would constantly kiss her premature baby on the mouth. Several nurses educated her around why that’s not safe for the baby, and thankfully documented their teachings. This was during the cold season, and it became even more concerning when the mother was coming in with related symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and obvious congestion.
She still continued to kiss the baby right on the mouth. The baby was almost ready to go home by this time, but things took a turn for the worst—the baby got extremely sick and ended up on a ventilator. It had quite the extended stay with many, many close calls.
73. Nothing Hurts Like Family
I have had family members un-restrain an intubated patient even after being told why it wasn't safe when the nurse wasn't looking. I remember one patient—his family encouraged him to extubate so he did, but he was too fragile to survive it...so yeah. Congratulations, you just ended your loved one's life because the restraints bothered you.
I’ve also had family members cough in an immunosuppressed patient’s face. It probably added a month to their ICU stay. Poor lady.
74. Eat Your Vitamins
My wife is a labor and delivery nurse. When a baby is born, they give it a vitamin that the baby can't produce for the first 6 months of its life; I think it’s Vitamin K to help with blood clotting. Obviously, if the baby doesn't get this, it’s potentially lethal, as they can bleed out internally. Welp, one mother didn't want their kid getting the vitamin—a sentiment she would soon regret.
The baby ended up meeting a heartbreaking end in the NICU. There was no way to know if the lack of Vitamin K was a factor, but I think most medical professionals would point to it being part of the reason. The cause was related to a bleeding issue. I don't recall the cause of the bleeding or what the specifics of the issue were, but the lack of Vitamin K likely played a role.
75. It’s Just A Flesh Wound
My grandpa was the patient. They told him at the hospital, "Come straight back if you have any chest pain." He didn't go back and he paid the price—dearly. He ended up getting a blood clot in his brain, which caused three strokes, hemorrhaging, two more minor strokes, a paralyzed left arm, and Broca's Aphasia. It completely ruined his life.
My grandpa had an old-school mentality. He worked as a school crossing guard, grew all of his own vegetables, fed the birds, built tables, biked six miles on the weekends, walked everywhere, and was still able to play darts despite his eyesight being that of a visually impaired gnat, just because he knew the board so well. He went from that to living in a care home and being unable to talk.
Has he lost his stubbornness? Nope. He won't do his rehabilitation, and so even though he could get his speech back to some degree, he doesn't want to do the therapy. Using communication cards humiliates him, so we're left trying to decipher random eyebrow movements so we can guess what he's trying to say. One of these days, I swear on my own bloody eyelashes, I'm going to shake him until his teeth rattle.
Him and his brothers. They're all the same. My uncle, who is my grandpa's younger brother, didn't go to the hospital at all and was found on his bedroom floor, whimpering. He had flipping sepsis.
76. Too Little, Too Late
The patient had vague abdominal symptoms, so I recommended a CT scan. He refused because he was afraid of radiation. He also refused a colonoscopy, so all we could do was an ultrasound, which found nothing because he was fat and abdominal ultrasound is a difficult, inconclusive examination anyway. A year later, he was admitted again, and this time. he couldn't refuse a CT. That's when we found massive colon cancer. He's probably gone now.
77. Hello, Operator?
I worked on the switchboard at a major hospital. The calls are normally pretty straightforward. But I had this one lady call up with the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. She was saying that she had spinal fluid coming out of her nose. I had to somehow explain—to an adult—that the fluid coming out of her nose was mucous. It was an awkward phone call for both of us.
78. Please Set My Alarm
My grandfather lived in the countryside and was the only doctor working in a wide area. He was a general doctor, a surgeon, an OB. Basically, he was whatever kind of doctor his patients needed him to be. Needless to say, being the only doctor around for miles, he worked really long days and often got very little sleep. As you can imagine, there were no cell phones at the time.
My grandma took the calls and he often came back home to learn that he had to go right back out. Anyways, one night he got a call from a pregnant woman far from his home. She was expecting any minute and needed him to be there. It was pretty late after a really long day but he agreed. He went to see her and laid down next to her in the bed. He told her to wake him up when she went into labor. She must have thought it was pretty strange. Pretty sure the screaming would wake him up.
A very attractive nurse friend of mine had to give an old guy in his 80s a bath on her second day on the job. She was nervous about the whole thing so one of the older nurses tried to comfort her. She told her that there wasn’t anything to see, everything down below would be shriveled, and that she would get accustomed to it pretty quickly.
My friend took that as fact. She mustered her courage and went to disrobe the old man to get him ready for the bath. When the robe dropped, however, she got the shock of her life. Apparently, the old guy was still packing some heat—seven inches on the flop. He must have been proud because he was grinning from ear to ear.
80. A Leg Down
My grandfather’s friend needed to have his leg amputated. Somewhere between him leaving the hospital bed to go into surgery and coming back out, someone had mislabelled the leg and they amputated the wrong leg. He went back into surgery three days later—he’s very old and they were worried about him going under once let alone twice—and they removed the other (correct) leg.
This is one of those stories that I couldn’t believe until I actually met the guy and realized he really does have both legs amputated, for no good reason other than negligence.
81. Better Safe Than Sorry
Once, I was the only doctor on duty in a rural village with diminished medical supplies. The village is called Shinafiyah and it lies in the desert in southern Iraq. A four-year-old child came to what was supposed to be an ER with diarrhea and some dehydration. They didn't have tap water and they drank directly from a nearby river.
From what I gathered, it seemed that the child had cholera. Cholera has a unique reputation in medicine that I will skip here for the sake of your appetite. I strongly urged his father to keep him longer for observation, but he refused. A few hours later, he came back and the child was very ill from severe dehydration. He was also drowsy...but then it got horrifying.
He looked like a rotten wooden doll with the sunken eyes of an old man. I couldn't get an accessible vein for IV fluids and I didn't have a central line set. I had to cannulate one of the large veins of his neck and he barely made it. Cholera wasn't usually seen there, so I had to make some calls and provide some samples to be tested about 200 miles away and send the child with an ambulance after he was stable.
82. Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
I am a psychotherapist who has worked extensively with addicts. Most of them don’t take the advice to quit their substance of choice, but one particular case comes to mind with this question. Not only did I impress upon him how important it was for him to stop drinking, but so did his psychiatrist and PCP. His PCP eventually fired him as a patient because he wouldn’t listen.
The guy was jaundiced, in liver failure, and looked like a walking grim reaper. He lived longer than any of us expected him to, but finally passed last year because of the damage he did from his heavy drinking. I should clarify that we worked at an inpatient behavioral health hospital during the time I treated him, and we would treat him with detox therapy and medications.
We would do this in every admission, which was approximately once per month over the course of the four years that I worked there. We tried our best to support and help with whatever we had. We didn’t just tell him to stop and then go on our way.
83. A Dry Spell
I had my second C-section and my surgeon had to leave before I could be discharged, so the other surgeon gave me my discharge orders. He had just come back from having to re-sew a woman's abdomen back together because she broke a very important rule—she decided to stand up and pick up her 5-year-old on the same day that she left the hospital.
Well, he let me know under no uncertain terms that I had better not pick up anything over 8 lbs or stand up while holding anything or we'd have words. Man, he was scary, but he also had to push this woman's guts back in and see her terrified child covered in his mom's blood, so I guess his demeanor was justified. Anyway, I did not pick up anything heavier than my child for two weeks until they said I could.
84. I’ve Got A Bright Idea
A friend of mine had just graduated from nursing school and was working in a hospital. One night, they had a man come in with a very unique problem. Apparently, this guy had shoved an ordinary household lightbulb up his bum. I’m not sure what the guy was thinking. The sun might not shine down there but maybe a halogen bulb will?
Anyway, to make matters worse, the bulb had shattered. My friend spent hours shining a light up this guy’s bum which was held open with spreaders and helping the doctor as he removed shards of the lightbulb.
85. To Be Taken Orally
A friend of mine was in medical school doing a rotation as an ER doctor. She told me this story about the most awkward patient she ever had. One night, a man came into the hospital escorted by officers. He had a blanket over his shoulders and he was wearing blood-soaked boxers. He was quite docile so my friend couldn’t get much out of him.
Before checking him out, my friend asked the officers what had happened. Apparently, the guy had sawn off his own member with a bread knife and proceeded to swallow it. Yup.
86. Come Again?
I’m not a doctor but I had a really awkward experience with one. I gave myself a hernia when I was lifting an extremely heavy gate. I went to the hospital and, for whatever reason, they had to conduct an ultrasound on my testicles. The doctor was a female which was fine with me because, I assumed, she was a professional and we were both adults.
Anyway, when she was applying the gel to my balls I said, "That feels weird." I only said it because I thought it might be relevant. She stopped immediately and said, "Did you just say that feels good?" I must have turned lobster red. I was like, "No, weird. It feels weird." What followed was the most awkward silence of my life.
87. Some Like It Rough
I had a woman come in complaining of pelvic pain once. Her boyfriend accompanied her and suddenly became nervous and uncomfortable when I asked her when the pain developed. She said it started about a week before when she and her boyfriend were having a romp in the sack. I was like, yeah, definitely time for the pelvic exam.
I noticed that when I started the pelvic exam, the boyfriend bolted out of the examination room. Turns out, the patient had a vulvar hematoma. Maybe don't Google image search that if you're queasy. It's trauma typically seen with bicycle accidents when a patient hits the seat. Hard. That wasn’t the worst part though. It was SUPER awkward telling the boyfriend to take it easy.
88. Hide And Seek
I was working OB as an off-service resident. I went in to examine the patient who was in labor but had just arrived. She was morbidly obese and had an extremely large fat fold that I had to lift up to check for cervical dilatation. Upon lifting the fold there was this horrendous smell and a large quantity of black material. It didn't really look like necrotic tissue to me so I grabbed a bottle of saline and started wiping away at the area.
The patient suddenly looked down and screamed out to her husband to come over because, "He [referring to me] found it.” Turns out they played a game at home where they would hide chocolate ho-ho's in the fat folds on their body. This one just happened to go missing for three days prior to coming to the hospital in labor.
89. Action And Reaction
I'm a resident doctor. During my coronary care rotation, I saw some stuff. In this case, I told the patient, “This heart attack was a warning. The most important thing for you to do, regardless of what medications we give you, is to stop lighting up. I know it’s very difficult, but we can help you quit.” The patient replied, “Yeah, I’m gonna think about it.” That ended up being the wrong answer.
He came back a few years later for another heart attack. This then became a regular occurrence. Sadly, unless a patient genuinely wants to quit, it’s a difficult habit to break and it often takes major consequences before people realize the dangers...even more major than a heart attack, apparently.
90. Bargaining With Fate
Paramedic student here. We had a patient who was morbidly obese and couldn’t get out of his house. He decided after about four days of uncontrolled chest pain to call it in. We got there and found evidence of an upcoming heart attack, but he refused care and wanted us to leave. About 45 minutes later, we got a call from the building he lived in—we got chills up our spines from the news.
We got there and he was in full-blown cardiac arrest. This man was so obese that we couldn’t get him through the door. We even had to knock out a wall and lift him down off the second story with a lift...all the while my paramedic lead and I were bagging him through a tube. Lots of firsts on that call. I’ll never forget it.
91. The Price Of Freedom
I'm not a doctor, but my fiancée’s grandmother was in the hospital for surgery and shared a room with a man who had some sort of tube in his gut. He wanted to take it out so badly but they wouldn’t let him do it. The staff kept telling him: "YOU WILL DIE IF YOU TAKE THAT TUBE OUT." Apparently, he didn't care and he left anyway. Not sure what happened to him. I bet he was a goner.
92. It’s All Fun And Games Until…
This guy lost an eye as a result. This young kid was about 20 years old and had bad diabetic complications. He had eye surgery to remove blood and scar tissue from inside his eye, and we told him to take it easy for a few weeks. He went to Six Flags theme park, but here's the thing—rollercoasters are bad. His retina completely detached and his eye got soft, so we had to remove it.
93. I Do What I Want
We told this patient, “Please don't get up on your own!” He didn't listen. He got up on his own and pulled out the line that was going into his jugular, which led directly to his heart. The result was gruesome—he proceeded to bleed all over everything until he passed out. He was almost a goner that day.
94. Eerie Premonition
My dad tells a story of a morbidly obese woman who came into his clinic. After an exam, he told her simply: "If you don't make drastic changes to your lifestyle and diet and start losing weight, you are going to meet a terrible end.” She shrugged it off, but that was a big mistake. She was gone within the week. Her family tried to sue because my dad was clearly "a witch doctor" and cursed her. It was sad all around.
95. A Curious Stranger
I’m an ER doctor. I was interviewing a fairly attractive young lady about a pelvic complaint. She answered all of my questions quite comfortably with some guy in the room. I hand her a gown so she could change for the pelvic exam, and she said, "Can you ask this guy to leave first? He just followed me in here from triage." That’s the last time I neglected to establish the relationship of all the people in the room.
96. Sounds Like A Cool Dude
While working in the hospital, a very attractive female in her mid-20s came in with her boyfriend complaining of abdominal pain. Part of the work-up required a pelvic exam and bimanual exam (that meant putting two fingers into the patient’s cervix). I offered to have a female perform the exam but she said it was ok if I did it.
A chaperone was present but her boyfriend demanded to watch as well. Now, I’m a professional but the whole situation got really weird. The patient’s boyfriend stood across the foot of the bed from me. He stared me directly in the eyes with a scowl the entire time I performed the bimanual exam. It made for a very uncomfortable situation for all—but it wasn't even over.
After the exam, the boyfriend pulled me aside and told me that he thought he knew why his girlfriend was in pain. He claimed to have "[bedded] her harder than ever” the previous night. I have no idea why he felt the need to say that but I assume it was because he was trying to prove something. It was the strangest encounter I’ve had with a patient or their family.
97. The Potato Famine
I worked as an ER nurse. The most outrageous story I have comes from this one crazy old lady. One day this little hermit of an old lady who never leaves her house came into the ER. Her chief complaint was, "I've got the greens." Now, we had no idea what that meant so I had to interview her to find out more. It was the craziest thing.
Turned out that she had a problem with uterine prolapse. That can happen a lot with older women who have had a bunch of kids—their uterus literally sags partway out of them. Apparently, she got tired of her saggy uterus so she used a potato—a Yukon Gold to be specific—like a cork. Yup, stuck the thing right up in there.
As if that wasn’t weird enough, she forgot all about her Yukon Gold and, well, potatoes like to sprout in dark, moist environments. So, she pulled down her pants to reveal that she literally had shrubbery growing down there. I mean, she was giving new meaning to “bush.” The doctor had to go in after that thing to get it out. I'll tell you; I've never smelled something that horrible in my life.
98. Let’s See Those Pearly Whites
This is kind of awkward and kind of sad. My mom was a hygienist and she had an older patient that liked to nap while she cleaned his teeth. She really didn’t mind it—it was kind of a relaxing process. Anyhow, one day he suffered a silent heart attack while in her chair. She'd been cleaning his teeth through it all and had no idea that he had passed.
99. The Rear View
Nurse here. A very panicked nursing assistant came running to the desk one day, saying, “You have to see this! I don’t know what this is!” She then brought me into a private room where she was giving the patient a bath. She pointed to an area on the patient’s buttocks. “What is that?” I leaned in for a closer inspection, and my face went white.
The patient then started to turn back around and said, “IS THAT MY EYE?!” Sure enough, my patient had a prosthetic eye that came out of the socket at some point and it became suction-cupped to her buttock. I left the room and had never laughed so hard in my life. Truly one of the most bizarre and hilarious moments in my career.
100. 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 them. 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.
101. Close To The Chest
I had just gotten my first job out of college at the local hospital. My first week went by with the usual stitches and broken bones. My second week around midnight, this very obese woman came in complaining of chest pains. So, we rushed her back, grabbed her vitals, and did an EKG and blood work. Everything was normal—or so it seemed.
The problem was, she was still complaining of chest pain. So, my supervisor and I asked the lady if we could do a head to toe check-up. Now this woman had a rather pungent smell to her when she came in, but I have learned to not think of it as the people in the area weren't known for their cleanliness. We were looking at her chest.
I noticed that her left bosom was reddened and swollen. I told her that I was going to lift it up to rule out any skin infections. As I lifted up her bosom, a wave of noxious stench engulfed the air around me. As I kept lifting it, I could see what looked a mass of rotting tissue going into her chest.
My supervisor ran out of the exam room and proceeded to vomit in the nearest trash can. I looked at the lady and asked her why she didn't come in earlier as it looked like a massive skin infection was raging under her left bosom. She replied that she did not have insurance and that she didn't think it was a huge deal.
I called in some nurses and the doctor to assist cleaning the wound. As we’re cleaning, one nurse noticed a bit of fur and bone. That's when we made the most horrifying discovery of my career. We found out it’s a small animal of sorts. They collected the sample and sent it to pathology. We removed it and noticed that it had rotted into her chest so much that her ribs could be seen.
In the end, it was the lady’s missing kitten. She spent four months in the hospital for massive sepsis and other related issues.
102. Photo Finish
I had an accident when I was around 12. I fell from a fair height into a body of water and onto my back, then got trapped. After that, I started to get strange, horrendous leg pain. It would creep through my legs, just burning and tingling. It would last for hours or sometimes a whole day, then just slowly disappear.
My mom took me to the hospital once because it happened while I was at school and they freaked out at how much pain I was in. The ER doctors told me to get out because it was just leg cramps, and my mom told me it was because I crossed my legs too much. Seven years later, I finally went to a specialist.
He sent me for CT scans…and found nothing. He then referred me to a neurologist and was instantly sent for an MRI. They saw that I had torn my spinal cord in the original accident and the intense nerve pain was from a build up of fluid in the gap of the cord. It’s uncommon, but not rare. Watching doctors Google your condition in front of you with a "what the heck” expression on their faces is pretty chilling.
103. A Fly On The Wall
I’m not a surgeon, but I had a screw put in to hold together a fracture in my wrist. At the last moment before surgery, the anesthetist told me I could have the surgery with a local rather than general anesthetic as planned. So I let her make the call for me to be awake. That’s how I heard everything the doctor didn’t want me to hear.
See, he didn’t realize I wasn’t under, and it was one eye-opening experience. During the drilling, my surgeon started complaining at length about why he hates the drill he's using and how it's inferior to the other type of brand. It was apparently the only one he could find at the time and he didn't want to reschedule. So not great so far.
Once the screw is in, the surgeon says to close up. Someone asked if the screw should protrude as much as it was, to which he responded, "No, but we can get away with it, and you never want to take a screw out and put another in, because it will wear out the bone.” Then silence for about 10 seconds while I feel them shifting my wrist around, followed by, "Actually we better put a smaller screw in."
When I was in recovery, the surgeon was surprised how quickly I woke up and had a slight look of surprise when I told him I was only under local. Next thing he said was, "Surgery went well..."