Medical Professionals Share The Weirdest Thing A Patient Wouldn’t Admit To Them
Doctors, nurses, and other workers in the medical field are obligated to maintain a high level of professionalism. They are trained to handle all sorts of situations: sad ones, stressful ones, and even awkward ones. But as much as we know it’s part of their jobs to leave their personal judgments out of the equation, we often still have a hard time admitting certain things to them, out of fear of embarrassment. Medical professionals from around the world took to the internet to share the weirdest thing a patient wouldn’t admit to them. If you’ve ever felt scared to admit something to your physician, don’t worry—you’re not the only one. In fact, you might be able to find some comfort in the stories below:
#1 Just Like That Scrubs Episode
I had a patient refuse to admit he swallowed a pen, even though an X-ray showed the pen in his small bowel. We took the pen out during emergency surgery. It’s funny because I literally just watched the Scrubs episode where Turk and his colleagues were looking at X-rays and laughing at all of the stuff that people put in their bodies and wound up in the emergency room for.
#2 Poor Dog
I’m a vet assistant and one of our clients wouldn’t admit his dog got into his stash. He didn’t want to admit it because his wife was totally against him having that stuff, but he ended up buying some anyway and kept it a secret from her. Well, it was a secret up until the dog got into it. He finally admitted it and his wife was furious. The dog ended up totally fine though, he was just super out of it.
#3 Deny, Deny, Deny
Once, we had a woman come in for “possible yeast infection.” During the exam, we found that she had a glass bottle stuck up there. She totally wouldn’t admit it was hers or explain how it got there even after we removed it. I just kept saying, “I think this is all a joke and you put it up there.” I get it, she was embarrassed… but there was no lying out of that one.
#4 The Stubborn Mom Of The Mom
I was volunteering in the emergency ward and a woman came in with her pregnant daughter. Not only did she refuse to believe her daughter was pregnant, but she was also feeding her laxatives to “deal with the extra weight.” It was pretty horrible stuff. She must have been dehydrated as heck. Thankfully, the baby was okay.
#5 The Camera Sees All
I’m a gastroenterologist. I do upper endoscopies all the time. Somehow, there are people out there who think they can get away lying about whether they’ve eaten since midnight, before a procedure that will literally stick a camera into their stomach. Now, some people have gastroparesis and old food residue will be present in the stomach, but I’ve literally seen fresh, chewed-but-identifiable bacon and eggs hanging out in the stomach. In addition to probably making it a lot harder to diagnose whatever we were doing the endoscopy for, its also a HUGE risk for aspiration events, which can be lethal.
#6 Liar, Liar
We had an elderly lady from a nursing home come in super altered. She would wake up briefly to answer questions but then would be out like a light seconds later. Usually, in this case, we would assume such behavior is a side effect of an infection, stroke, etc., but we still ask about illicit substance use since it can cause that kind of thing.
The lady denied it several times. She kept saying she didn’t take anything other than prescribed meds. Finally, as we were about to intubate her (put her on a ventilator) since she was getting worse, we cut off her bra and out popped her tiny stash. We gave her some Narcan and she gasped herself awake. Even after that, it still took her a long time before she said: “Well, maybe I did take some from a friend…” Since then, I’ve trusted no one when it comes to denying substance use.
#7 The Inevitable End
A girl had a very large lump on her breast that she didn’t tell the doctors about. She actually went to the hospital for migraines, saying they were getting increasingly bad. When they found the lump, they asked why she didn’t say she had that. She said she knew it was going to end her eventually, but she just wanted to get rid of the migraines because they giving her a lot of pain in her last months.
#8 Just Be Honest
Not a doctor, but a nurse. When you come into the hospital wanting to detox and I ask you how much you’ve consumed, please stop lying to me. Withdrawal is NASTY, but I can make it a little more bearable. If it’s two bottles a day, TELL ME so I can medicate you accordingly. You’ll thank me later when you aren’t having a seizure.
#9 Bad Odors
We had a woman come in with a report of odor down there. All well and good; it happens all the time in an obstetrician/gynecology clinic. What she hadn’t bothered to say was that she’d gotten a tampon stuck there around the end of her last period. She’d gone through menopause seven years prior. I didn’t go into her chart, so it was never questioned all those years.
#10 In Total Denial
I’m not a doctor, but my husband is one. He had a 17-year-old girl with abdominal pains come into the ER with her mom. It turned out, she was in full-blown labor. She assured him that she couldn’t be pregnant since she’s a virgin. The baby was literally crowning right there in the ER… there was no maternity ward in their hospital and she was in advanced labor when she arrived. She still kept insisting she was a virgin.
#11 Reading Upside-Down
They don’t know how to read. I’ve been taught the trick of handing a paper upside down to them to see if they can read. It’s good to know if they don’t, so you can make EXTRA sure they have a full understanding of their instructions instead of saying to read the details on the sheet. Honestly, I wish they understood that not knowing how to read is nothing to be embarrassed about.
#12 Caught Cheeto-Handed
I’m a pediatric dentist. When I sedate kids, they have to be NPO for eight hours before, so I always ask them if they had anything to eat or drink in the morning. Parents NEVER want to admit their kid ate or drank, even when I remind them it’s very important because if they vomit and aspirate, they could lose their lives. Often, they try to minimize it and say it was just a few bites, but one kid walked in eating a bag of Cheetos at reception and then the parent insisted to me that they hadn’t eaten. Yeah, I’m 100% not sedating your child today.
#13 Sure, Blame The Fan
I admitted a guy for chest pain. As part of the workup, I did a substance screen that came back positive. After the rest of his cardiac workup came back negative, I said to him, “Good news, you didn’t have a heart attack. It’s likely that your chest pain was caused by that illicit substance you were taking.” His answer: “I didn’t use that. See, I was at a party and people had some of it out. As I was walking by, an oscillating fan blew it into my face, which is why my test was positive.”
#14 A Total Yikes Moment
I’m a CT tech. I was to scan a woman’s abdomen for belly pain. She and her girlfriend were there. I had to do a pregnancy test since I couldn’t radiate a fetus. She denies up and down that she was pregnant, and then, after the test I did, it said she was. She denied it and demanded a blood test since she had never, ever been with a man.
Well, the blood test came back positive, and the argument that ensued was biblical. She was arguing with everyone: her girlfriend, the nurses and the doctor. I never ended up scanning her and they chalked up her pain to her being pregnant. The look on her girlfriend’s face when I said it came back positive was one I will never forget.
#15 Can We Speak In Private?
She had all the symptoms of pregnancy, along with two positive pregnancy tests. Yet, she kept saying: “There’s a 0% chance I can be pregnant. I’m not married.” To be fair, the patient’s mother was there and this was in a very conservative country. She ended up “admitting” she was pregnant when we separated her from the mom.
#16 Kid’s Lie About The Darndest Things
Whilst I was working in general surgery we had a 14-year-old kid come in with a small bowel obstruction. The X-ray showed this huge circular object in his bowel and we just couldn’t work out what it could be, so he went in for open surgery to take it out. When we opened him up we found a fully intact water balloon, filled up and tied. When he woke up when we asked him why he ate it. He said he “didn’t remember eating a water balloon.” No idea how you could forget it though.
#17 “They Thought It’d Be Funny”
I had a patient in the hospital who disappeared for a few hours. When he came back, he was tachycardic to 160 bpm, had massive pupils, and couldn’t sit still. We asked him what he’d taken while he was out. Nothing, he said. He just went to the pub and just drank lemonade, apparently. To be safe, we took some of his blood and ran a test to find out what he might have taken. He then piped up, saying that the friends he was with thought it would be funny to spike his drink. His blood test confirmed it, but it was hard to believe his claim that his friends did it as a joke.
#18 You’re Not Blind
We had this lady that came into the ER at least once per month complaining of chest pain (she was in her 30s and morbidly obese). She had her heart, lungs, and GI system examined in almost every conceivable way. One night, she came in with a sudden onset of blindness. This was not her first time with this complaint either—the last time, she made a trip to the retina specialist to see what was up.
When I examined her, I walked around her bed. She told her friend to get her feet off the chair so I could get by. She played it off super cool by adding. “If you have your feet up like you always do.”
Then, the neurological exam. I had her touch her nose then touch my finger. Her idea of how a blind person would perform this exam was to touch her nose then wobble her hand from side to side as she touched the end of my finger. Not to mention the near-constant eye contact as we talked. I would ask a question and start moving while she talked and she would follow my eyes perfectly.
She was extremely relieved to find out she had a conversion disorder and that her sight would be back soon.
#19 It Comes Down To The Math
I am a doctor. Not a single “random thing up there” is weird to me anymore. I’ve seen it all. Nor is it that surprising when somebody is whacko enough to claim they got Lyme disease from their husband, who got it vertically from his mother, and that’s why they are sterile… The actual weirdest thing for me was that one time when a severely obese person just refused to admit they ate anything but one small salad a day. It just comes down to math. You cannot get up to 500 lbs unless you put 500 lbs of stuff into you at a decent pace.
#20 Dr. Google
What annoys me most is that patients will Google what they think is their diagnosis, get their diagnosis right, then argue with you about the recommended treatment and deny having read that also. The classic example is bronchitis. Patients will Google it, read the Wikipedia article, then still come in and demand antibiotics.
When you confront them with this they will pretend they didn’t know that they read that antibiotics do not work. They do this with almost any disease in which the treatment is conservative management and yet they will still come in asking for treatment that has no evidence. If you’re going to become an internet expert, don’t do it 50% and deny you didn’t read the part about treatment.
#21 Embarrassed In Front Of The Cute Doctor
Not the doctor, but the patient. The doctor asked me during a physical when my last test for gonorrhea and chlamydia was, and never asked me whether I’d been active. I’m a virgin, my doctor was cute, and for some reason, I felt embarrassed to admit I hadn’t done it yet, so just rolled with the recommended urine test. $250 and the expected negative results later, I felt really stupid. Looking back, it was a pretty weird thing to not just admit. My doctor couldn’t care less what my intimate life was like. It would have saved me some money, yikes.
#22 An Insensitive Prank
Med student here. I went to see a patient for my practice physical. These are all volunteers and we don’t get charts or anything, just a slip of paper with their name and chief complaint. I walked into the room and this older gentleman was holding his cup of coffee. He didn’t shake my hand, which threw me off guard. Then, I noticed one of his hands was much weaker and kind of scrunched up. He didn’t move it one bit.
I asked him about it and he was like, “Nah it’s fine. See?” He proceeded to move it like, a half-inch. It clearly was not fine. I started sweating at that point because the guy looked like he just had a stroke and didn’t even know. It turns out, he was just messing with me, but I was ready to call in a real doctor cause I was freaking the heck out!
#23 I’m An Open Book
I had to go to the ER because I couldn’t keep anything down and I was dehydrated. The doctor asked if it was possible that I was pregnant and I said no—I just finished my period, so it was unlikely. She just stared at me for a second and starting laughing… Apparently, no one ever just admits they are active and they always try to hide it, for some reason. It turned out, I had a kidney infection.
#24 That’s Gross, Dude
So in my story, I’m actually the patient not telling the doctor something, but I felt like it was good enough and relevant enough to share. When I was like, 13 or so, I ended up with a urinary tract infection. I ended up having to go to the children’s hospital. What I didn’t tell them, and still haven’t told anyone except my wife, was that this happened because, before I went to the doctor, I hadn’t showered in over a week.
#25 Scared Straight
I’m an RN but I’ve had patients lie about not going #2 because they are worried about a suppository. I make sure to go full worst-case scenario about bowel obstructions, impaction, emergency surgery, etc. It normally makes them follow my directions (take ordered bowel meds, order certain foods, drink fluid, walk if able, etc.) and scares the heck out of them.
#26 Nothing To Be Ashamed About
He claimed it started when he had a difficult #2. Tests showed he’d ruptured his colon and it turned out it had happened during an intimate night with his boyfriend. To me, it was weird because he’d introduced me to his boyfriend already, so it was not like he needed to hide his preferences. I guess he was still scared of being judged.
#27 Seeking Attention?
My patient presented over several months with recurrent huge abscesses that we couldn’t explain. She was in horrible pain. She had to stop working. We tested for everything. Eventually, her husband called me that he found syringes in her medicine cabinet. When the syringes were found, she stopped coming to her appointments.
To those asking why: I think she has Münchausen syndrome. She wanted the attention that comes from being sick. I started getting suspicious because she would consistently get a new abscess before any court dates (CPS problems) and always needed a doctor’s note to get out of it. She denied everything.
#28 The Taboo Around Money
That they can’t afford their meds. It’s so weird—we can for sure tell you weren’t taking them. It has put your life in serious danger and if you don’t fess up, it could kick you off the transplant list for non-compliance. It’s such a taboo, I guess, to say you’re poor. You had to pick lights or meds, food or meds, gas or meds. It sounds so simple. “Doc, I just couldn’t afford that and food.” But it takes some work sometimes to get people to just tell us.
#29 Putting My Foot Down
That they had maggots in their foot wound. A patient with diabetes came in to see me in the clinic. He said his foot had a wound. I asked when they last looked at it. They said that morning and this was an 11 a.m. appointment. I helped him take off his sock. There were four maggots busily cleaning a pretty large ulcer on the side of the foot. I threw up a little in my mouth, then proceeded to remove the maggots and dress the wound.
#30 Drinking… Paint?
One time, one of my patients wouldn’t admit that he drank a bunch of paint at a paint picnic party. He was totally covered in paint and he had all the symptoms of drinking paint, but he wouldn’t admit to me that he was at a paint picnic party. I think he was ashamed of what he had done. I’m still not exactly sure what a paint picnic party is…
#31 They’re Just Moles, I Swear
I’m a medical assistant for a dermatologist and patients will come in for warts follow up. I always introduce myself and ask how the warts are doing. “I don’t have warts! The doc just froze some moles, but they haven’t gone away yet.” Dude, you got warts. Cut it out. I think this is funny since I have seen their file and they still try to deny it.
#32 Terracotta Pots? Really?
Not a doctor, but I have it on good authority that men will show up with light bulbs, terracotta pots, or other objects stuck up there. Just one, not all at once. How did it get there? “I fell on it.” And the wife always nods along to the story.
#33 How To Get Dentures—Fast
I’m a doctor of dental medicine. You all lie to me about flossing. One guy who swore he didn’t know why he was losing his teeth because he was brushing twice a day caused me to get heated. I scrapped a chunk of plaque off his teeth from his gum line and showed him a big heaping pile of plaque proving that he was not brushing. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and told him I would show him how to brush and he turned it down because that “couldn’t possibly be it.” Some people just want dentures as fast as possible.
#34 Music Is A Touchy Subject
I’m not a doctor. But as a patient, the woman doing my MRI asked what kind of music I liked, and I was too embarrassed to tell her. MRIs are very loud. Most places have headphones to play music or earplugs if you don’t want music. She was probably just going to set it to whatever music I wanted, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell her my music preferences.
#35 That’s Not How This Works
I had a patient on our service for a heart failure exacerbation. We weren’t sure why she had one now as she had been stable for a few years prior. She also had a documented past of substance use, so we checked with a test screen. The screen was positive and the next day I rounded on her, she asked me why she had the exacerbation. I told her it was likely due to her substance use. She was SHOCKED that I would accuse her of that. I brought up her positive test and she insisted it was a false positive. That’s not how any of this works…
#36 Nice Try
When I was a medical student, we had a patient on one of my rotations that was getting oral pain meds but insisting that we switch them to a stronger IV pain medicine because they had been getting nauseous and vomiting up all their meds.
When our team rounded on the patient to check on them, we walked into the room and were quickly greeted by an eager patient that had been waiting to show us their vomit bag. Turns out that it was filled with a lovely mixture of excrement, and topped off with a handful of pills the patient had thrown in there to make it look like they couldn’t keep the meds down.
When we called them out, the patient was in total denial and tried to reason with us that it must be vomit since it’s in the vomit bag.
#37 The Worst Kind Of Person
Not a doctor, but this happened to my friend.
My friend was in a really awful car accident. She was hit head-on by a huge pick-up truck that was going 83 mph in a 40-mph zone. The driver had passed out at the wheel. When police arrived at the scene, my friend had a punctured lung and several broken ribs. The other driver was unscathed and still passed out at the wheel.
The police found open drink containers and illicit substances in his vehicle. He didn’t wake up until the ambulance had already arrived and he was inside. The doctors (who had been informed that he was under the influence) asked him if he remembered anything. He told them, “I have low blood sugar. I must have passed out.”
And then they did a drug test and found he had been using EVERYTHING they found in his car.
#38 Blacked Out
We had a 20-ish guy in the emergency room come in with excruciating chest pain, and he looked very uncomfortable. He denied any kind of trauma. Turned out, he had a fractured sternum. When I told him we figured out why he was having pain he said, “Oh yeah! I forgot I blacked out yesterday and my friend gave me CPR.”
#39 The McDonald’s Gave It Away
Not a doctor, but I work in a radiology clinic. People always lie about having fasted for their appointments. They’ll come in for their abdominal ultrasound and say they haven’t eaten… Yet it’s always like: “Sir, you are literally holding a bag of McDonald’s.”
#40 Ignoring A Big Red Flag
Nurse here. I had parents bring their three-year-old son to the emergency department for one month of abdominal pain that kept getting worse. I asked all the routine questions for this complaint. We did the bloodwork, ultrasound, X-ray, everything. His tests come back completely normal but the kid was still intermittently screaming in pain, curled in a ball.
Over the next five hours, I continued to repeat the same questions. I asked repeatedly if there was anything else going on that they could think of… Nope. The kid just didn’t seem well but we had no reason to keep him. We decided to watch him a little longer and let him eat. The kid ate a bunch—a PBJ, apple juice, crackers, popsicle—and afterward, there was no more pain, so we decided to send them home.
I brought in the discharge paperwork and just as I was about to start going over instructions, the dad goes: “You know… for the past three months he’s had A LOT of worms in his diaper.”
WORMS. Freaking worms. You spent over six hours denying worms. I literally just turned around and walked out of the room without saying a word. I was laughing almost to the point of tears. I could not wait to tell my resident. I gave them some deworming meds and sent them on their way.
#41 Save The Hairpiece!
I’m a nurse. We had a patient come into the operating room for brain surgery. Probably a mid-50s guy with a nice head of light brown hair. Before a patient comes into the actual OR, we ask them a series of questions, including whether they have any implants, jewelry, non-hospital clothes on, etc. The guy said no to all the questions. After the patient got put to sleep, the surgeon grabbed his hair to start shaving it off (because you know, brain surgery). ALL HIS HAIR PEELED OFF BECAUSE HE WAS WEARING A WIG AND DIDN’T TELL US. We almost shaved his hairpiece because he wouldn’t admit to anyone he wore it.
#42 Just Switch Already
Not a doctor, but my family member is a psychiatrist. She told me that patients won’t ask for a new doctor or psychiatrist, even if they hate them. I mean, come on, this is about you. The doctors probably deal with worse things a dozen times a day and you asking for a switch isn’t going to make their day that much worse. Just tell the absolute truth.
#43 Own Your Kinks
Nurse here: we frequently get patients who “fell” on whatever items are lodged in them. Like, I don’t care that you shoved a pillar candle up there for fun, but why are you lying about it? Own your kinks.
#44 Pink Fuzzy Handcuffs
I had a mother bring in her seven-year-old kid who had locked a pair of pink fuzzy handcuffs around his hands. She kept saying, “He found them on the street,” and he would get mad and say, “ I told you, mom, I found them in YOUR ROOM.” She would just completely ignore that.
#45 Don’t Blame The Ants
A teacher once told me a story about a lady who brought her young child into the emergency department complaining that the child was “sick” from eating ants. The doctors struggled to see how that would make her sick. It wasn’t until after some time that the mom said she gave her own child ant exterminator to get rid of the ants she ate.