Going to the hospital can be a memorable moment for anyone, but it's rare that a doctor has a patient that they'll never forget. These medical tales from the emergency room, doctor's office and surgeon's table are enough to make anyone try their best to never end up in the hospital as long as they can help it.
Whether a doctor overstepped their bounds or a patient didn't follow their caretaker's instructions, these medical stories were often caused by someone's incompetence or unwillingness to follow simple instructions. But many medical stories have another common beginning: sheer dumb luck.
He Refused Help
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.
Story credit: Reddit / [deleted]
Do You Have an Appointment?
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.
Story credit: Reddit / Hitz365
Not Allowed to 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.
Story credit: Reddit / cupcakewife
An Awkward Moment
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.
Story credit: Reddit / DantheMan700
What Are You in For?
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.
Story credit: Reddit / [deleted]
Always Wash Your Bananas
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.
Story credit: Reddit / HIGGINS28
An Unexpected Surprise
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.”
Story credit: Reddit / pandashuman
It's Just a Cough
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.
Story credit: Reddit / EarthwormJane
They Found a Cockroach
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.
Story credit: Reddit / Sutarmekeg
She Chose to Go Blind
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.
Story credit: Reddit / OscarDivine
He Was Nearly a Goner
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.
Story credit: Reddit / lisxsi
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.
Story credit: Reddit / hezod
He Was as White as a Ghost
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.
Story credit: Reddit / clemenni
I Have No Idea How He Was Still Alive
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.
Story credit: Reddit / mcqlby
Digging For Gold
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.
Story credit: Reddit / BJ1984
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 breast 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 nipples 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 breasts. Uh…healthy breasts.” 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.
Story credit: Reddit / paper_paws
Don't Bother to Knock
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.
Story credit: Reddit / notreallylucy
Hold Your Breath
I went to the doctor to get an X-ray done on my back. I heard the woman working the machine instruct me to, “Hold [your] breasts,” as her hand hovered over the button. Horrified, I grabbed both my breasts in absolute panic, not understanding what the x-ray machine could possibly do to them. Then the woman broke out laughing. “No, sweetie!” she said, “Your breath! Hold your breath!” I am so stupid.
Story credit: Reddit / cartron3000
I Didn't Want to Wait Any Longer
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.
Story credit: Reddit / franksowner
We All Had a Good Laugh
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.
Story credit: Reddit / cocobeann
They Were a Little Too Eager
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.”
Story credit: Reddit / surfwaxgoesonthetop
A Full English Breakfast
This patient was supposed to have starved for eight hours for her morning-scheduled breast 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.
Story credit: Reddit / VolatileAgent81
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.
Story credit: Reddit / MurtianInverder314
No One Told My Nurse What Was Going On
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 the room from hell. 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.”
Story credit: Reddit / DenieD38
I Asked Out the Receptionist
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.
Story credit: Reddit / StrungoutScott
It Was the Hospital's Fault
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.
Story credit: Reddit / thepoopsith
Making a House Call
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.
Story credit: Reddit / StLightManifesto
The Happiest Delirious Patient
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.
Story credit: Reddit / whoorderedsquirrel
I Got a Good Laugh Out of It
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.
Story credit: Reddit / vasly
Cleanliness is Close to Godliness
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.
Story credit: Reddit / TommyLeeJonesIsGay
He Didn't Even Try to Lie
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.”
Story credit: Reddit / bitcoinoisseur
Her Allergy is Real
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.
Story credit: Reddit / MonsterHunterRelias
School is His Top Priority
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.
Story credit: Reddit / I_AM_A_BOOK
"I Guess I Did Have to Go"
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.
Story credit: Reddit / friday6700
He Refused Surgery
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.
Story credit: Reddit / Dutchess_md19
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.
Story credit: Reddit / ehh_soso
This Has Only Happened in Theory
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.
Story credit: Reddit / moto-chuchu
I Knew Something Was Wrong
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.
Story credit: Reddit / piper1871
She Refused to Let Me Treat the Wound
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.
Story credit: Reddit / dairyqueenlatifah
An Unforgettable Patient
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.
Story credit: Reddit / mott3h
He Didn't Want to Pay For Parking
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.”
Story credit: Reddit / SivverGreenMan
I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now
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.
Story credit: Reddit / renogaza
Aren't You Forgetting Something?
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.
Story credit: Reddit / Ralinis101
The Surgeon Caused the Problem
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.
Story credit: Reddit / JazzedParrot108
More Bitterness Than Brains
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.
Story credit: Reddit / curlywirlygirly
An A-Ha 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 genitalia. 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 genitalia surgically removed because they could turn into cancer. Oh, and you probably shouldn’t go to college right now.”
Story credit: Reddit / mattiboi41
We Found Zero Evidence of Cancer
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 breast cancer where both breasts need to be removed. But when we examined her specimens, we made an utterly disturbing discovery.
We found zero cancer in either breast. Obviously, the surgeon was beside himself and made us look through both breasts 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 both her breasts when she didn’t need to. All around a horrible situation, and the surgeon was sick over it all.
Story credit: Reddit / anutteranceofshush
My Favorite Client
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.
Story credit: Reddit / Chickennoodo
Never Touch a Surgeon's Table
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.
Story credit: Reddit / SucculentOwl
I Could Hear Everything
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…”
Story credit: Reddit / voltorbz