December 12, 2023 | Melissa Gervais

Mind-Numbingly Dumb Patients

Medicine is a difficult profession. Thanks to the wonder that is human nature, healthcare workers are subjected to incredible Darwin-award-winning scenarios daily, so it’s no wonder that many of them feel the need to go home and scream into their pillows at night. From self-inflicted injuries to dangerous prescription misuses, these medical professionals revealed the most facepalm-worthy patients they’ve ever encountered.

But be warned: They’ll all leave you wondering how we’ve survived this long as a species.

1. There Is No Plan C

I'm a pharmacist and one evening, when I was filling in at a different store, a clearly upset man walked in. He made a striking confession: "I had relations with a woman I'm not planning on continuing a relationship with". He really put it as straight as that. 

I responded, "Alright. I'm guessing something went wrong or you guys didn't use protection. When did this occur?" He replied, "Last night, around 7 PM on the couch". Wow, that's more detail than I needed. 

I only wanted the basic timestamp to know if Plan B was still an option. I began to explain to him, "We carry a medication known as Plan B, and given the event was less than 72 hours ago—" but he cut me off. His interruption totally threw me: "Oh yes, I bought that for her right after. We're wondering if there's anything we can do to find out if she's pregnant now". 

I clarified, "I'm afraid not. She'll have to wait about three weeks to see if her period shows up, and if it doesn't, she can take a pregnancy test. Technically, a blood test could give quicker results but it'll still take up to a couple of weeks". 

He responded, "We're just really worried because she doesn't want to be pregnant. Can she take anything to prevent a possible pregnancy? Like a multivitamin? Or even specific food"? 

I informed him, "She's already done what she can by taking the Plan B. There are other alternatives but they're prescription only. Moreover, there's nothing she can buy over the counter to help". I thought that'd be the end of it—but he took it further.

He then inquired, "What about me? Is there anything I should be taking to prevent this pregnancy? Perhaps a multivitamin or mineral?" 

Quite taken aback, I simply stated, "No sir. There's nothing you can take now".

Pharmacist is consulting customer in drugstore.ArtPhoto_studio, Freepik

2. Get A Load Of This Guy

I'm a 73-year-old retiree from the medical field, having worked as a clinical microbiologist back in the day. Although my expertise was in infectious diseases, I often found myself managing all sorts of tests throughout the lab. 

One day, a young man in his 20s came in with his wife and mother, carrying a written request for a test on his sperm—this was before everything was done on computers. Yes, the situation felt a little awkward, but I was a professional and had run through this routine many times before. 

Unfortunately, his doctor hadn't given him any instructions or briefings. He had no idea about how male fertility was checked. Now, this was a hurdle I had to overcome. I pulled him aside and in our medical lingo, explained to him how the investigation was done and the steps he would have to take to provide a sample. 

He was taken aback when I asked him to produce a sample directly into a container we provided. His surprise turned into feigned confusion, as he acted as though such an action was alien to him. 

I went over the process and medical terms again and eventually had to use every possible synonym for the process. The situation was reminiscent of a comedic routine by George Carlin! 

After half an hour, he came out from the restroom with a disappointing result—a cup filled with urine instead of the required sperm sample. Oh, boy. Eventually, the lab report was unsurprisingly: "Patient provided incorrect specimen."

Doctor is looking confused holding a plastic cup with urine.benzoix , Freepik

3. This Is How The Elderly Get Their Wrinkles

So, I work as a paramedic. One time, an elderly lady mentioned to me that she was experiencing some dry mouth and a touch of dizziness after going up some stairs earlier in the day. 

Naturally, I did my usual routine―taking down her medical background, checking her vital signs, and asking her to describe her symptoms in more detail. I then asked her about her fluid intake for the day. 

Can you believe she had only consumed a cup of tea around ten hours ago? I asked her, "Did you even drink water?" and she answered no. Can you guess what resolved her symptoms in mere five minutes?

Woman is talking with a doctor.freepik , Freepik

4. The Mother Got A Lot Of Heat For This

One hot mid-summer day, I was at the children's hospital with my eldest child (who we discovered was allergic to penicillin) when a medical team rushed in with a listless baby. The infant was wearing a snowsuit fit for a harsh Canadian winter. 

Once they managed to lower the baby's temperature, I overheard a conversation between the doctor and the baby's mother—and it was quite infuriating. The mom was insisting on the heavy snowsuit to prevent her baby from feeling cold, but the doctor was clearly frustrated. 

He explained that the minor inconvenience of her baby feeling a little cold and needing a blanket wasn't as important as the risk of severe heatstroke, or even worse, potential brain damage. 

He had to use harsh words to get his point across, reminding the mother that her actions almost took her baby's life, and might have caused irreparable brain damage. 

Baby in hospital bed is getting a check up by doctor.CDC , Pexels

5. Mr. Hot Shot

A friend of mine, who worked as a paramedic, responded to an emergency call about a gunshot wound. The story goes, a dad was cutting his grass when he accidentally touched a hot part of the lawnmower engine and burned his hand. 

Upset at the pain, he took out his handgun and shot at the lawnmower. The bullet bounced off and, sadly, struck his son in the leg.

Elder man driving a lawn mower vehicle in his yard.hermaion , Pexels

6. Now, He’s Gonorrhea-Valuate All His Conditions…

I put in a decade at the ER, in service every single day. It's stunning to see some folks who, despite their startling lack of knowledge, are still alive and well. One of the most memorable encounters was with a guy who was a twin. 

He desperately wanted an STD test because his sister had been diagnosed with one. Naturally, we had to clarify if there was any inappropriate relationship between them. He vehemently denied it, but insisted that since they were twins, her illness was his too. 

We breathed a sigh of relief, grateful that this wasn't some twisted, incestuous situation. But, we had to patiently explain to him that diseases just don't spread that way between twins.

Man is talking with female doctor in her office.cottonbro studio, Pexels

7. It Was An Arm of Intervention

I got told to go introduce myself to a patient to get vitals, history, and more info on their chief complaint, before starting an IV and drawing blood for labs. She came in for arm pain, and it looked like she had a nasty bug bite on her arm. So her story was she was an exotic dancer, and her Adderall prescription wasn’t doing the trick. So, she had an idea of how to make it more potent. 

She heard from a friend that if you crush it up, suspend it in water, and then inject it, it would be more effective. Except she used tap water to dissolve the Adderall before she injected it. This ended up causing a huge abscess and infection at the site of injection. She ended up losing her arm at the elbow...So now she’s a one-armed exotic dancer.

Woman is laying at hospital bed looking sad.RDNE Stock project , Pexels

8. They Must’ve Gone Ballistic

I had a patient who had a bullet lodged in her leg. We had the surgeon come and assess her. Based on its placement, he suggested leaving it because removing it could cause even more danger. We discharged her. She immediately walked to the ER in the same hospital to complain of leg pain. She had prescriptions and wound supplies in her hand.

Still, they brought her back, discovered her injury, and called for a surgical consult. The same surgeon was on-call and came to assess her. Guess what?! The surgeon made the same suggestion to leave it. Then we educated her EXTENSIVELY about never getting an MRI or the metal will fly out of her skin. Eventually, she left.

She returned a few months later to a sister hospital complaining of a headache. She got inpatient admission, and you guessed it: They did an MRI. The slug ripped out, and the MRI machine was down for almost a week!

Woman is laying in hospital bed.RDNE Stock project , Pexels

9. She Just Couldn’t Seem To Grasp The Conception

Once, a young woman around 18 or 19 years old came to the emergency room I work at. She needed an X-ray for some issue she was experiencing. It's our routine to run a urine pregnancy test before any imaging process for females in their reproductive years. 

Even though she was certain that she wasn't pregnant, stating she'd never had relations with somneone, we conducted the test anyway. To her surprise, the test came back positive for pregnancy. We proceeded to do a blood pregnancy test to verify the result, especially given her insistence that she'd never been with anyone

This test confirmed the pregnancy too. We allowed her some time alone to digest this unexpected revelation. When I returned to see how she was doing, she posed a surprising question: She wanted to know if getting pregnant was possible even if her boyfriend didn't fully "go in" during the act. I had to spend about 30 minutes explaining the basics of human reproduction to her. 

Young girl is talking with hospital personal in hallway.freepik , Freepik

10. It Ultimately Wasn’t Very Fun-Knee

I happened to overhear a discussion in the ER among a nurse, a doctor, and a patient. They were trying to determine if the patient's confusion was due to a head injury or just lack of intelligence. It was a mix of humor and concern. 

Despite his insistence that he was there for a leg injury, the patient couldn't elaborate on how the injury happened, the sort of pain he was in, or even how he ended up at the hospital. Their conversation echoed down the hallway. 

The nurse was of the opinion that the patient might have suffered a head injury. The doctor, without any hesitation, gave an unexpected verdict: "No, he's just not very bright." Concerningly, the doctor's assessment was accurate. 

They managed to get in touch with the patient's wife, who confirmed the patient's habitual lack of common sense, even joking that he would likely get lost and go hungry in their own home if she ever left him. 

Looking at the patient’s leg, it was evident that it was injured or swollen. However, the answers he provided about the cause or condition of his injury were baffling and incoherent. He wasn't slurring his speech, but his response to their queries were perplexing. 

His remarks like, "It's just in pain" and "While interacting with Jimmy and during our usual chores, my leg started hurting", left everyone confused. 

Whenever the doctor questioned, "Did an incident cause this? Can you describe the work?", the patient's replies remained as elusive as, "Something's always happening, you know how it is", or "I just want my leg to feel better".

Man is seating on hospital bed.Tima Miroshnichenko , Pexels

11. An Change Of Heart

One of my coworkers relayed this story to me: A man in his sixties experienced a severe health issue and had to get a pacemaker. His surgery went smoothly, and the recovery was successful. The doctors instructed him about necessary medications and ongoing care, and also scheduled follow-up appointments with a heart specialist.

 However, the man never attended any of his appointments and didn't respond to the hospital's calls to reschedule. This ongoing absence lasted about three years. Then one day, out of the blue, he showed up at the hospital, requesting to see the surgeon who implanted his pacemaker. 

His unexpected arrival and evident distress raised a few eyebrows, but given his condition, a quick meeting was arranged with the doctor. Once in the examination room, the doctor discovered a surprising sight: the man was wearing a bra – which he said belonged to his daughter–beneath his shirt. 

The man revealed he had been wearing the undergarment for three months because his "problem" had worsened. When he removed his shirt, even more shocking was the sight of his pacemaker, no longer inside his body but dangling outside, supported by the left cup of the bra. 

Above it, there was a large infected wound with the leads of the pacemaker still implanted in his veins, connected to his heart. No one could figure out how the man had ended up in this situation, and surprisingly, he hadn't succumbed to sepsis or any other health condition due to it. 

Shocked male doctor is holding his head.benzoix , Freepik

12. The Parents Were The Real Suckers

One night, while I was on duty at the ER during the midnight shift, a family walked in around 2 a.m. with their four-year-old. I inquired about the child's condition. To which, they cheerfully replied, "Why don't you ask him? he was the one who insisted on seeing a doctor".

So I pushed further: "Did he mention anything specific was bothering him?" To this, they simply stated, "Not at all. He only said he wanted to see a doctor, so here we are." Through our back and forth, it became clear they actually drove down to the ER in the middle of the night based purely on their child's whim, without really knowing the reason. 

Then, I turned to the child and asked him, "Can you tell me why you want to see a doctor?" His answer left me stunned: "The doctor has lollipops." It was then I realized the parents were evidently clueless, not the child.

Little boy with mum talking with the male doctor.Ground Picture , Shutterstock

13. A Very Delicate Condition

I'm a social worker, and one of my clients ended up pregnant many times, only to have her children removed from her. I spoke with her honestly about the use of birth control or considering sterilization procedures due to the fact that she repeatedly had difficult deliveries and subsequently lost custody of her children. 

She confessed to me that she was unaware that birth control or practicing safe relations could prevent pregnancy. She did not comprehend the link between intimacy and pregnancy, largely due to a troubled upbringing. Her father had misguided her by telling her she would only conceive if she was in love, and since she hadn't experienced love, she couldn't understand her continued pregnancies. 

She simply viewed intimacy as a source of enjoyment and was unaware that it was the cause of her numerous pregnancies.

Young pregnant woman is having a consultation with a doctor.MART PRODUCTION, Pexels

14. The Answer Was At Hand

I work as a skin doctor in India where, in our tradition, we often eat with our hands. Most of our meals, such as curries or dry dishes, contain a good amount of turmeric. Growing up here, we all know that it's normal to find the nails of your primary hand (usually the right one) ending up with a yellow tint because of the turmeric. 

We have seen this happen since we were kids. The yellow stain usually fades away in a day and a half if you wash your hands a few times. I'd like to share a story about my first outpatient clinic visitor, a very nervous young woman in her early 20s. When I asked what brought her to me, she expressed concern about her right fingernails turning yellow. 

She noticed this only occurred after meals. So, I asked her casually, "Do you eat with your hands?" She answered affirmatively. I then tried to clarify for her, "You do know that's just the turmeric causing it, right?" She understood but wanted to know if there was a way to prevent it. 

Slightly puzzled, I suggested, "Well, you could always use a spoon." She seemed surprised and asked if there wasn't any medicine to stop it. I could only look at her and replied a firm, "No!" This situation may resonate more with people from South Asian heritages or those who frequently eat food prepared with turmeric using their hands. 

I just found it surprising, and a bit odd, to come across an adult preoccupied with such an issue.

Female doctor is talking with a patient and smiling.Kampus Production , Pexels

15. This Guy Wasn’t Very Treat Smart

I work as an emergency medical technician. Once, I encountered a man in his mid-thirties to early forties with diabetes who hadn't taken his insulin in years—since 2012 actually, and it was now 2020. When I checked his blood sugar levels, the reading came back as 'HI', which means it was above 700 and too high for the glucometer to measure. 

The man, surprised, asked me if it was due to all the ice cream he had recently eaten. The entire time, he seemed distracted and was video chatting with his girlfriend on Facebook Messenger. After he was discharged, I saw him again in the parking lot. 

Not even fifty steps from the ER, he had already pulled off the bandage on his IV site and was messing with the wound until it started bleeding profusely. He came and knocked on our ambulance and asked for a bandaid. We had to escort him back inside to the ER and wrap his entire arm with gauze to control the bleeding. 

We hoped that by the time he removed the bandage, the wound would have clotted sufficiently enough to prevent him from bleeding excessively.

Young man is talking with a doctor in hospital hallway.sanivpetro, Freepik

16. Rubbing Salt In The Wound

My sister shared an unusual story with me about a woman who had a continuous issue with blisters and sores on her lips that just wouldn't go away. They'd heal, only to return again. 

Doctors were perplexed for weeks—but they finally figured out the shocking cause. It seemed she had an extreme fondness for salt and vinegar chips. She'd munch through three bags daily for several weeks until the pain from the sores became unbearable. Then she'd visit the doctor.

Woman is eating chips.cottonbro studio, Pexels

17. Details Make A Difference

Here's a fun, sweet story from when I was a med student in reproductive health. The doctor said, "So, you're trying to conceive, but you're having trouble. Do you have any other children?" The patient responded, "Yes, Doc. I have one." The doctor then said, "Alright, we need to do [these different tests]." 

The patient agreed, saying "Okay, sounds good." Then, after leaving the office, the patient came back within moments and knocked on the door. He said, "Hi, Doc. My wife thought you should know—my son is adopted. But that doesn't change a thing to me, he's always been my son!"

Male patient is talking with male doctor in his office.freepik, Freepik

18. Do No Farm

I work as a physical therapist and in my world, folks who get knee replacement surgery have a critical six-week period to regain their motion. If you miss out on that, the chance doesn't come back. I once had a farmer as a patient who was eager to retrieve his mobility due to his job demands. 

I first saw him five days post-op. I taught him the essential exercises, advised him to stay away from any farm work for at least six weeks, and scheduled weekly check-ups for the initial six-week period. But the man vanished, only to reappear nearly eight weeks later. His mobility was almost nil, only about 30 degrees. 

He was visibly upset with me, blaming me for his plight and calling me inefficient. We had a conversation that went something like this: I asked, "Did you do the exercises?" His reply, "No." I further asked, "How often have you been working on the farm?" "Every day," he answered. 

"Why haven't you visited since the first appointment eight weeks ago?" "Too busy with farm work," was his defense. So I summarized, "Let's get this straight. You ignored every single instruction I gave you, and yet it's my fault?" I never saw him again.

Male doctor and displeased male patient arguing at clinic.Ground Picture , Shutterstock

19. A Jaw-Dropping Encounter

In my role as a pharmacist, I frequently find myself dealing with folks who don't always make the best choices for their health. For example, the ones who come in to purchase homeopathic remedies for serious illnesses really concern me. 

I remember one time, a lady came in to fill a prescription given by her dentist for strong antibiotics and painkillers; she had an infection that was severe enough to risk damaging her jawbone. I asked if she understood the directions for taking the medication.

She replied, "No way am I swallowing those pills! They're headed straight for the trash bin. But I need to buy them to appease my dentist. I much prefer using my homemade concoction rather than ingesting harmful chemicals!" 

Over the years, I've come to realize that there's no point in arguing with these folks, despite my mounting frustration. But it really tugs at my heartstrings when I see they have children or pets at home...

Woman is taking medication from a pharmacist.freepik, Freepik

20. That’s Never Gonna Heel Now

Around 1983, when I was a practicing nurse, I treated a guy in his 20s who took a drunken swim in a local lake known for its dirty water. He went in barefoot, stepped on an old liquor can tab, and sliced his foot wide open. For a week, he ignored it, despite his girlfriend's concerns. He brushed it off, claiming, "It's just a scratch". 

So, unsurprisingly, he ended up in the ER when his foot swelled up enormously. He spent about two and a half months in the hospital. His treatment involved major surgery to open his foot, clean the wound, and repack it. 

That process was one of the grossest jobs I've had in my three decades in healthcare—and mind you, I had previously managed bedsores, radiation burns, and cancer wounds for nearly seven years. But his injury was just one part of the story. He was also a difficult patient—rude, disrespectful, and occasionally mean. 

Fellow nurses, you know the type. He even made a trainee nurse cry, and she never went back into his room or told us what he said. Finally, his foot improved after thorough cleaning, responding well to antibiotics and starting to heal. When he was released, along with a prescription for antibiotics, he was given detailed care instructions—to keep his foot clean and dry. 

But on the very day he left the hospital, he went back to the same dirty lake, got drunk, put on a shoddy pair of tennis shoes, and took another swim. One week after his discharge, he was back at our ward. This time, he ended up losing his foot. Also, his girlfriend decided she'd had enough and left him.

Male patient is laying in hospital bed in dark hospital room.Valentin Angel Fernandez, Pexels

21. Fortunately, They Caught Him Red-Handed

I don’t know if a cleaner in a hospital counts, but this one time, I got to work early on a Saturday morning, and we immediately received a request for help from the ER and got sent over by my boss. When I got there, the first thing I heard was yelling from this guy behind one of the curtains. He was shouting at the nurses, “Don’t touch my downstairs”, and “I didn’t use any substances”!

Then I smelled iron in the air, and then I found out there was blood all over the hallway, with hand prints in blood against the wall. Almost the entire floor was covered in blood, with actual puddles in some places. What happened? The guy pulled out his catheter, causing arterial bleeding, and he decided to run away from the nurses who were trying to help him.

It seems like he lived through that. I had never seen that much blood before that day, nor after.

Doctor is looking at chart and walking in hospital hallway.RDNE Stock project , Pexels

22. Thinking Against The Grain

Although I work in healthcare, I have two really amusing stories about my ex-fiancé. Feel free to laugh, this relationship certainly wasn't my finest hour. The first one happened during our baby shower for our son. My ex wondered aloud if we'd opt for an "innie" or an "outie". 

His question was so ludicrous that I had to pull him aside to explain that the shape of our baby's belly button isn't something we get to decide. The second story is about a mishap with an oatmeal bath. My ex had severe eczema, and his doctor recommended he try oatmeal baths during flare-ups. 

Going for the literal route, my ex bought boxes of Maple & Brown Sugar Quaker Oats and emptied them into the bathtub. It took me a few weeks to discover the empty oatmeal boxes and confront him. His main complaint (expressed rather angrily) was why he was so sticky after each bath, and why the sugar was causing his wounds to become worse. 

I clarified that he was not supposed to buy flavored oatmeal but plain oats or actual oatmeal bath packets. He was upset that I expected him to know this. When I asked him why he chose the maple and brown sugar flavor specifically, he said he didn't fancy smelling like strawberries or peaches post-bath. 

Fast forward, after our son was born (and we'd separated, thankfully), my infant son also developed mild eczema. The pediatrician, like his doctor, recommended oatmeal baths, and would you believe, this guy buys flavored oatmeal again? He claimed he only remembered his previous mistake when he lifted our son out of the bath, only to have the towel stick to him. 

As I began to berate him, he appeared genuinely puzzled and justified himself by saying he'd used just one oatmeal packet this time since we were still bathing our son in the sink and not a full-sized bathtub.

Woman is arguing with man and small baby standing between them on kitchen floor.user18526052 , Freepik

23. The Patient Had A Med-ley Bag

I'm a pharmacist and not too long ago, a lady came to me with a sandwich bag filled with all her medications—unsorted. She asked for assistance in figuring out what meds she was running low on or completely out of and had numerous queries about them. 

My worry meter shot up when she showed me an Apoquel, claiming it to be her blood pressure pill. The alarm bells rang because Apoquel is actually pet medication, which had somehow ended up in her bag—the same bag in which she was freely mixing all her tablets. 

Turns out, she had been carelessly tossing her pet's meds into the same bag with hers. It struck me as a potential health hazard for both her and her pet; there was no way to tell who had been taking what. I urgently emphasized to her the importance of storing medicines in their original containers for protection and ease in following the prescribed dosage directions. 

I've come face to face with her more than once after that incident, and I'm relieved to say she seems to be taking my advice to heart. However, part of me can't help but wonder how previous medical professionals she met hadn't guided her on this matter.

Woman with plastic bag with pills after buying from drugstore.zinkevych , Freepik

24. They Didn’t Air On The Side Of Caution

As a former in-home medical oxygen technician, I often worked with a patient who needed a high concentration of oxygen to survive. His oxygen intake far exceeded what the regular atmosphere could provide. To compensate, we set him up with two high-powered machines that worked together just to keep him alive. 

We had detailed discussions about their important role with both him and his wife, who confirmed they understood by signing documentation following each conversation. Despite our meticulous explanations, they regularly interfered with the machines. Citing noise, one machine would often be turned off. 

This set forth a disastrous chain of events—the man would remove his mask complaining it was too cold. His wife would disconnect the hose if it seemed bothersome. Any action you could imagine that would reduce or stop his oxygen supply—they did it. Unsurprisingly, this would lead to emergency calls due to lack of oxygen.

Living close by and next to the EMS station, I was the point person for these distress calls. Day and night, throughout the week, they'd have me come "repair" the equipment. They wouldn't call 911 because they didn't want to "cause a scene". 

This cycle continued for over a year and a half until one night, having trouble sleeping, they turned off the machines before heading back to bed. Years have passed, and I still encounter his wife around town. She often gives me a stony look, as if I were responsible for her husband's death.

Man laying on the bed at home and wearing medical oxygen mask.artursafronovvvv , Freepik

25. She’ll Just See Herself Out, Now…

I work as a surgical tech in the field of ophthalmology. One of my patients, a woman in her late 50s with glaucoma, was unfortunately losing her vision despite being on eye drop treatments for half a year. Despite the treatments, her eye pressure stayed worryingly high, being in the region of 30s and 40s. 

I gently asked her if she'd been using her drops as advised (twice a day), to which she responded affirmatively. Digging a little deeper, I asked if she had skipped any doses in recent times, and she claimed she hadn't. I further inquired about whether she was applying the drops correctly, and this question upset her. She retorted rather sharply, "Do I appear stupid to you"? 

I quickly reassured her, "Definitely not. However, I want to confirm as occasionally some patients believe they're applying it correctly, yet they're mistaken. Would you mind demonstrating how you administer the drops?" She retrieved the bottle, shook it (which is correct), stared upwards (also correct), but shockingly, she then opened her MOUTH and ingested two drops. 

Consequently, I was reprimanded, but my optometrist defended my actions. He told her its was catastrophic misuse of the treatment and confessed it was the most absurd thing he'd ever seen in his 25 years of practice. The woman was upset, arguing that we were being nasty to her. 

She mentioned the drops stung her eyes, so she preferred not to use them as intended, and since the eyes, ears, nose, and throat are interconnected, she didn't see why it mattered where she applied them. That's not the correct approach for treating glaucoma. 

She urgently needed a shunt implant, and fortunately, we were able to salvage around 30% of her visual field. Tragically though, she was unwittingly causing her blindness by swallowing her eye drops. 

Young woman is holding bottle of drops.KoolShooters , Pexels

26. That’s Ill-Advised

In the past, I volunteered at a complimentary health center where I used to check vitals and record medical histories. One day, a lady suffering from pneumonia came in. She was puzzled about why her usual remedy of consuming half a bottle of mouthwash and smoking a pack of cigarettes daily wasn't alleviating her symptoms. 

When I questioned her about why she believed that smoking was beneficial for her lung infection, she responded, "Just as Native Americans used to clear the land by burning the weeds prior to planting, I am smoking to cleanse my lungs." I decided it would be best to let the physician respond to that particular query.

Young nurse wearing blue hospital clothes is seating worried.Cedric Fauntleroy, Pexels

27. Seeing Red

As an eye doctor, I had a patient come in for an urgent appointment due to a severely red and painful eye. Under the microscope, the front surface of the eye, the cornea, appeared quite distressed—unstable light reflections, a bit cloudy, the whole nine yards. I asked them, "What did you do?" 

They replied, "Well, my niece's wedding is this Saturday, and I wanted my eyelashes to match my hair and the light blue color scheme of the wedding. So I used the same dye for both." I asked them, "Does your hair dye have ammonia in it, by any chance?" 

And they said, "I think it does. Do you reckon my eye will be okay and match the color scheme by Saturday?" My response was, "Only if they're willing to change the color theme to red, otherwise it's unlikely."

Woman is checking her eyes at optometrist.Ksenia Chernaya , Pexels

28. This Grave Mistake Takes The Biscuit

I got this story from my brother, and I think he'd be okay with me telling it, especially if it helps avoid a mishap for someone else. Many surgeons have been through something similar, but luckily this one didn't end in a tragedy. My brother told me about these parents who swore their child hadn't eaten before surgery, as per the guidelines they had received. 

But they actually thought the surgical team was being unkind to their child. So, when their little girl complained she was hungry that day, they stopped by a diner on the way to the surgery center and bought her a large traditional country breakfast. Unfortunately, it led to a severe reaction—she nearly choked while trying to swallow biscuits and gravy. 

I can still recall how upset my brother was, describing the incident (and how the biscuits and gravy was even more sickening coming back up!). I'm sure he gave them a piece of his mind once their five-year-old was stable. Oddly enough, they kept feeling defensive and upset with the surgeon for setting boundaries on their child's food intake right before the anesthesia. 

Yet, they somehow didn't show resentment towards my brother (probably because he didn't let them speak much!). It's sad how they didn't realize that, in their ignorance, they nearly caused their child's death and definitely made a poor judgment call. All because they were bothered by their child's pleas for food.

Little girl is seating in hospital bed with her parents and female doctor.DCStudio , Freepik

29. The Outcome Suited Them Just Fine

As a pharmacist, I once witnessed my colleague, who's also a pharmacist, deal with a lawsuit. A patient fell and got a concussion, blaming it on her blood pressure medication, Lisinopril, which had been increased from 10 mg to 20 mg. She claimed that she passed out because she was not informed about this change. 

She proceeded to sue my colleague, our pharmacy, her doctor, and the doctor's office. Details that emerged early into the investigation revealed that she was at a party and had both high blood alcohol content and illegal drugs in her system. 

This information caused the lawsuits against the doctor, the doctor's office, and the pharmacy to be dropped almost immediately. However, the patient decided to focus all her legal efforts against my colleague. Thankfully, our pharmacy's system showed that she had refused a consultation with my coworker on her visit. 

The lawsuit eventually fizzled out.

Judge is working on his laptop at courtroom.Sora Shimazaki, Pexels

30. He Had To Take A Pregnant Pause

I spend my days in the emergency room, full of tales to tell. One story that left me completely shocked involved a woman, brought in by her sister, who was experiencing abdominal pain and hadn't had a period in three months. To no surprise, she was pregnant. 

Her sister then tells me that she's been involved with some Brazilian construction workers building the condominium next door. I ask if they have any concerns. Interestingly, the patient then inquires if her baby would be born speaking Spanish. 

Following a moment of silence and her sister's visual quest for the answer in the ceiling tiles, I assured her, "No, because the primary language in Brazil is Portuguese." Seemingly relieved, the patient's sister quickly escorted her out of the emergency room, before I could officially discharge her.

Young pregnant woman and smiling with doctor.valuavitaly , Freepik

31. It Cost Them An Amen And A Leg

A few years back, I was part of a team involved in cancer research and surgeries. Surprisingly, quite a few people would turn down minor surgical procedures because they believed in holistic medicine or faith healing to solve the problem. 

Unfortunately, these folks always came back, and we often had to perform more extensive surgery than was initially required. I remember one instance of a patient with melanoma on their calf. The doctor suggested a straightforward wide excision, but the patient chose to rely on prayers. 

A few months later, the growth had unfortunately expanded, leading us to have no choice but to amputate the patient's leg. Additionally, I believe there was evidence of cancer spreading to their lymph nodes.

Doctor is talking with female patient.Klaus Nielsen, Pexels

32. They Gave Her A Herbal Warning

A woman came into the emergency room with her baby who had a very high fever of 103 rectally. The poor child had a rapid heart rate and looked really sick. What's shocking? The lady turned down all forms of medication. Her alternate solution was outrageous—she was convinced that her herbal tea, which she brought along, should be enough. 

She came to us as if our only job was to give her child a check-up. Despite my best efforts to explain that the child urgently needed a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, she wouldn't allow it. I gently reminded her that she was in a hospital, a place where even she'd been treated with medicine like intravenous fluids and epidurals. 

But, she remained stubborn, unfazed and focused only on her point of view. I tried to make her understand that if her child ended up having a seizure or became unconscious, and she dialed 911, the medical team would do everything necessary, whether she approved or not. 

Seeing no other way, the doctor warned her that we might need to involve social services, suggesting that her actions amounted to child endangerment and abuse. That got her attention...but only for a brief moment. She left the hospital in the end, ignoring our medical advice. It's hard to believe, but there are indeed people like this.

Young male doctor is examining the crying baby on hospital bed.Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

33. Words Cannot Expresso How Ridiculous This Call Was

For nearly two decades, I've been a firefighter. You wouldn't believe the silly reasons people dial 911. But the weirdest one? This guy who reported he was choking via 911. He greeted us high as a kite with a blazing joint hanging from his lips. When I asked who was choking, he calmly informed us it was him. 

He claimed he had swallowed an ice cube and now he was unable to breathe. Just to be certain and fueled by a strange curiosity, I checked his mouth and instructed him to take a few deep breaths...which he did without any struggle. Despite this, he remained convinced he was choking. 

So, I suggested that he brew some hot coffee and drink it. When he asked why, I explained that the heat from the coffee would melt the ice cube, freeing his airways. His response was a laid-back, "Oh, cool. Thanks, man." After this, I left.

Man wearing brown sweater is talking with paramedics at home.Pavel Danilyuk , Pexels

34. How Heartbreaking

I'm employed in the healthcare field focusing on clinical research. You see, for cancer patients with limited standard treatment choices, clinical trials or "exploratory therapies," present a considerable opportunity for many. Despite some folks having reservations about research, it's actually highly monitored and less daunting than one might think.

 We once had a consent discussion with a patient who had battled substance abuse. While our understanding of this new drug isn't exhaustive, we're certain about one vital aspect—the combination of illicit substance and this medication can cause severe heart complications, or to put it simply, using the drugs together can potentially "blast" your heart. 

The patient assured us earnestly that they had given up substance use and vowed not to go anywhere near illicit substances during the trial. However, two weeks later, they fell back into their old habits, and...well, you can probably guess how that turned out.

Prescription bottle with pills on the table.Kevin Bidwell, Pexels

35. Wrestling With Logic

Before going to medical school, my brother spent some time working in an emergency room. One time, the paramedics brought in a man who was drunk and had cut his neck after falling into a fish tank. His equally intoxicated friends called emergency services. 

Upon their arrival, the paramedics noticed his buddies had wrapped a very tight bandage around his neck to stop the bleeding. It was discovered that they had been partaking in a spirited game of WWE, fueled by alcohol. 

This man had not only suffered a neck wound, but also had a two-inch piece of glass lodged in his head, unnoticed by him. Four firefighters had to restrain him as he hurled offensive comments at the female doctor. My brother reported that when the glass was taken out, blood splurted about ten feet high.

 After witnessing this, my brother silently decided that medicine was not for him. He later enrolled at Berklee Music School and is currently living his dream life as a music producer and engineer. Now, he no longer has to deal with unruly patients disputing facts like a piece of glass stuck in their head. 

A doctor is resting on the sofa,looking tired.Cedric Fauntleroy , Pexels

36. Shear Stupidity

I've been an ER nurse for seven years, and I've seen more ridiculous things than you could imagine. People smoking in bed and ending up with severe burns is actually pretty common. One case though, really astounds me—a man came in complaining of chest pain and extreme tiredness. 

We performed an EKG and discovered he was in the middle of a serious heart attack. We quickly prepared to perform an emergency procedure to insert stents. The operation usually requires accessing the heart via the groin, so one of our duties in the emergency room is to trim the groin hair to prepare for surgery. 

We reassured the patient and told him we needed to shave him using safety clippers—we don't use traditional razors anymore. But then, things got really complicated. He flatly refused. We thought, no matter, the cath lab can do it once he's asleep in theatre. 

The patient, however, was insistent; he was unwilling to give his consent for the procedure because he did not want anyone tampering with his privates. We tried everything—explaining the situation, pleading with him, even bringing in every lawyer the hospital could rustle up. 

But he wouldn't budge and signed his own discharge against medical advice. His peculiar attachment to his hair led him to choose risking his life over a simple shave. Stranger still, we discovered we weren’t the nearest hospital to his home. 

Consequently, if he didn't survive, emergency services would need to take him elsewhere. From my experience, I sincerely doubt he survived the day.

Doctor is preparing for surgery in , Pexels

37. Paws For Thought

As a vet, I once dealt with a case where a pet owner brought in his young cat, concerned because the cat seemed pretty unenergetic. Aside from the cat being slightly underweight, the check-up didn't raise any issues. So, I dug a little deeper into the cat's eating habits. 

I asked the owner, "What does your cat's diet look like?" He responded, "I give him [popular online raw food brand]." Wanting more details, I asked, "Does the cat like the food? Does he clean his plate?" He reassured, "Yes, he eats it all." Next, I asked about the portion size: "How much do you give him at a time?" 

The man replied, "Half a cup." I followed this up asking, "Is this once or twice a day?" What he replied with astounded me. "Once every three or four days," he said. Shocked, I clarified, "...So your cat eats just twice a week?" Explaining himself, he said, "I follow a natural feeding method. 

From what I've read, that's how often wild cats eat." This poor man was unwittingly causing his cat to starve by following a misleading feeding concept he had adapted from watching National Geographic. 

I had to explain to him that house cats are not like large wildcats; smaller wildcats typically have 10-20 small meals throughout the day. No surprise, the cat gained weight and started to be more active once it was fed regularly.

Cat is seating on the table and being checked by woman vet.Gustavo Fring, Pexels

38. Always Double-Check

There's this tale I once heard about a patient who was undergoing radiation treatment. She was told clearly how crucial it was for her to attend each radiotherapy session, regardless of her schedule, and to let us know if she absolutely couldn't make it. 

But one day, she couldn't make it. Instead of telling us, she had her twin sister go for the therapy in her stead. Obviously, her twin easily passed-by the identification checks with similar responses and an identical birthday. The truth came out when the radiologists couldn't match her with her past CT scans. 

The scans were of a woman who had a mastectomy, but this "patient" still had both of her breasts. Even many years later, we share this story with newbie staff members during training sessions to stress the importance of proper patient identification. 

It'd surprise you how many people try to cheat the system. It's not a huge number, but it's certainly not zero.

Woman in white sweater is talking with a doctor.MART PRODUCTION, Pexels

39. It Took Some Arm Twisting

I'm a rehab specialist for orthopedic issues. I once had a patient who experienced a common wrist fracture. The doctor sent her to me because her stiffness was oddly increasing. Over 17 individual sessions, each around 40 minutes long, I tried multiple strategies to aid her recovery, but none were successful. 

Strangely, each time she attempted to move her wrist, she would twist her whole body instead. She led an ordinary life—being a wife, a mother, and having a job. I tried all possible ways to encourage her to use her wrist muscles actively. 

I positioned her in front of a mirror, took videos of me or her performing the exercise, and tried to help her understand the difference between moving her shoulder and her wrist. The last time we met, I even secured her arm to a chair in an attempt to isolate her wrist movement. 

But she still couldn't grasp that she was supposed to be moving only her wrist. I find it utterly baffling.

Female doctor touches patient's shoulder and tells her good news.Studio Romantic, Shutterstock

40. There Was No Sugarcoating It

I'm employed at a veterinary clinic where we often see cases with diabetic pets. One of the most severe cases was an elder pet owner who brought in her very overweight, diabetic dog. 

She explained that her dog was moving slowly, easily exhausted, and had an unusual "flopping" action—which was unusual for the dog. Upon checking the dog's blood sugar level, we found it was off the scales. Generally, a dog's blood sugar should be around 100. 

But this dog's reading astonished us—it was over 1000. Curious, we asked the owner about the dog's excessive blood sugar. Had the dog been eating excessively? The answer was yes because her weight was significantly high. Had the owner been administering insulin? 

The owner's response was that they thought their dog could manage without insulin, assuming the dog was resilient. I have to clarify that not administering insulin to her sturdy, nine-year-old, 80-pound Dalmatian has landed the dog in this half-alive state. 

The fact they managed to keep the dog alive this much without insulin was beyond surprising.

A Dalmatian dog is looking sad.Jozef Fehér , Pexels

41. Are You Kidding Me!?

During my internship in the maternity department, I encountered a 42-year-old expectant mother coming in for a prenatal appointment. It was her seventh time being pregnant, even though she only had one child alive. 

Unfortunately, her five previous pregnancies had not been successful— three had resulted in miscarriages, and two in stillbirths. The pregnancy with her surviving child was also fraught with difficulties; she even required a special procedure called a cervical cerclage—that's when they sew the cervix closed because it can't stay closed itself well enough to keep the baby safe until birth. 

The maternity specialist asked her why she would endure the trials of pregnancy again instead of being content with her one daughter. Her answer? "My husband's family wants us to have at least two children". I was stunned—it was the biggest surprise I've ever experienced. 

Young pregnant woman is laying on bed with female doctor in hospital.MART PRODUCTION, Pexels

42. Jesus Took The Wheel Years Ago

I work as an eye doctor. One time, an older person came in with a group of their worried family members. The reason? The elderly individual had driven over a roadside pop-up tent, the kind that telecom workers use to shield themselves from the rain. 

Fortunately, no one was injured since the worker was out on a lunch break. The family couldn't understand how their elderly relative failed to notice a big, red and white tent during broad daylight. That's when the elderly person confessed to having been driving based on memory for the past three years.

Caring nurse holding mature patient hand at meeting in hospital.fizkes, Shutterstock

43. Trying Hard To Be Patient

A patient visited me in the clinic on a Monday, all appeared well. However, by Tuesday morning, she was on the hospital roster with a scheduled visit for me. When I spoke with her, she claimed to be fine and wasn't sure why she was hospitalized. 

Oddly enough, after leaving the clinic, she called for an ambulance from across the street and was taken to another hospital. She expressed her concerns as being overlooked and not being handled properly. Due to the fact that I don't work at the other hospital, she was transferred back to ours overnight and was released on Wednesday morning. 

Come Friday, she was found once again on the roster for a scheduled visit. After visiting her, she continued to insist that she was fine yet didn't know the reason for her admission. This time, she had arranged for a friend to drive her to a smaller, remote hospital without the necessary services she needed. 

When she arrived at the ER, she claimed to be in crisis and lamented that nobody was taking her seriously. By the end of the night, she had been admitted and transferred back to our facility, only to be discharged on Friday afternoon. Sure enough, she returned yet again on Saturday morning. 

I questioned her about her frequent hospital visits and she appeared clueless. I explained that it was likely due to her insisting that she needed help at every hospital she visited. When asked why she felt the need to visit numerous hospitals, her response was quite revealing. 

She confessed, "I didn't know what else to do. My apartment is a complete mess. My caretaker won't clean it because I'm supposed to learn how to do that myself, and I just don't want to". While important to note that she isn't a ward of the state, she still receives most welfare services, like coaches, guardians, drivers, and so on. 

When I questioned her persistent claims of being taken lightly at our hospital, her response was an eye-opener, "If I don't insist, they simply send me home in a cab". This conversation has been etched into my memory forever.

Doctor in white coat has consulting with older senior female patient in hospital.Ground Picture , Shutterstock

44. False Wisdom

I used to work as a dental nurse, and one of my most memorable stories is about a woman in her 30s who came for an examination to the affordable emergency clinic where I was employed. Her teeth were badly damaged, almost black in color, and her gums were inflamed, bright red, and they bled easily, even when she merely moved her tongue. 

She required several teeth cleanings and a deep cleaning procedure known as debridement. An X-ray revealed that all her teeth, except her wisdom teeth, required attention—an observation that made me raise my eyebrows in surprise

She needed no less than 10 fillings and also, she had to undergo root canal procedures to salvage some teeth and get at least three, maybe more, extracted if the root canals didn't suffice. After explaining all this to her, including the importance of good oral hygiene, I asked if she had any questions. 

Her response was, "If I lose this set of teeth, my other teeth will come through." Both the dentist and I were stunned into silence, unable to come up with a suitable reply. I've seen a lot of unusual and rather unpleasant situations in that clinic. Despite everything, I miss working there.

Woman seating on dentist chair with two dentists by her side.Cedric Fauntleroy , Pexels

45. When You Just Can’t Sulfa Fools

I work as a paramedic in a rural area where I also deal with emergency medical situations. I was once dispatched for an allergic reaction case at a country farm. Upon getting there, I found the patient lying on the kitchen floor, struggling to breathe. Her husband revealed she had ingested sulfa, a substance she's known to be allergic to. 

After a quick blood pressure check, we administered an EpiPen and Benadryl to help her. Her breathing gradually returned to normal and she was able to respond to some questions. When I asked her to confirm her sulfa allergy, she responded affirmatively. 

Given that she knew of her allergy, I questioned why she had taken it. She said it wasn't mislabeled or from the wrong bottle. My curiosity piqued, I asked her if it was her husband's, but she said it was meant for their horse. That stopped me in my tracks. 

Bewildered, I asked her to confirm that she knowingly took medicine prescribed for their horse. She obliged, adding that she consumed only half. I drew my own conclusion and asked if the dosage was halved since a horse is considerably larger than a human. 

She agreed. To rule out any self-harm tendencies, I asked if she was trying intentionally to harm herself; she was shocked and firmly denied it. Beyond belief, I asked her to confirm that she knowingly took horse sulfa, even though she's allergic, hoping it would provide relief from her cold symptoms. 

She insisted that she only took half. She seemed oblivious to the seriousness of her actions. Finally, I acknowledged her correction and suggested we proceed to the hospital to ensure her condition was stable.

Woman is laying in back of a paramedic van.Pavel Danilyuk, Pexels

46. This Patient Was In A Jam

As a paramedic, I was once called to help a man experiencing a stroke. During the initial exam, I noticed something large in the man's mouth. I thought it might be a symptom of oral cancer or some sort of growth, so I asked his wife if she knew about any such condition. 

She just looked at me, puzzled. She claimed he didn't have such a condition, so I then enquired, "What is in his mouth?" She revealed it was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich she had forcefully fed him. 

She had mistaken his stroke symptoms for low blood sugar, and decided to feed him a whole sandwich before calling for medical help. Well, it seems like my job was secure.

Sick black man is on the stretcher in hospital van.RDNE Stock project , Pexels

47. It Was An Oxidant Waiting To Happen

A 24-year-old prisoner from a countryside jail was brought in. He was doing roadside cleaning when he spotted a bottle in a ditch. Thinking it was alcohol, he quickly drank it all. Even though it appeared to be alcohol, it wasn't. In reality, the liquid was a sulfuric acid solution, with a pH less than 2.5. 

It was so acidic it would dissolve litmus paper. Not long after, in a lot of pain and vomiting blood, he was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit. A gastroenterologist performed a procedure called an EGD, which involves inspecting the esophagus, stomach, and the duodenum using a flexible tube with a camera. 

The images they captured were horrifying. His stomach and esophageal lining were corroding. He needed to be transferred to another hospital that had a specialist who could fix the damage. The young man had multiple surgeries and a protracted hospital stay. 

When I saw him a few months later, he had lost significant weight, dropping from roughly 150 lbs to 90 lbs. His food was supplied via a PEG tube. He was fortunate to be youthful and typically healthy, disregarding his lack of wisdom.

Man wearing hospital pajamas ,feeling sick in pain.freepik ,Freepik

48. A Rash Decision

I work as a pharmacist and I recall this incident quite vividly, even though there could have been others that I've forgotten. We had this female customer who complained that her medicine was making her throw up, but she could not remember its name. 

I checked her records, but all I found were some one-time-prescribed antibiotics and an anti-fungal prescription dating nearly a year back. When I asked her if her medication was a non-prescription type, she confirmed it and pointed to the Monistat cream. 

It seemed odd to me that a cream, typically used for feminine issues could cause her to vomit. So, I queried about how she was using it. That's when she shared a rather disturbing revelation—quite unexpectedly, she’d been consuming it orally! 

She described the process: She would load the cream into the applicator, project it toward the rear of her mouth, and swallow. This way, she believed, she was able to bypass the strong taste by not directly placing it on her tongue before swallowing.

A person is holding a white cream in her hand.Mike Murray, Pexels

49. What A Meathead

I work as an emergency doctor in a countryside area. A woman around 35 years old came in, her right jaw and neck visibly swollen. She told me, "I guess it's because I ate meat yesterday and now my body is reacting to it..." 

Then, out of the blue, about 10 minutes later, she adds, "Oh right, and there was this incident where I accidentally swallowed a bee. It stung me in my mouth just before this swelling started. I'm sorry, I forgot to tell you that".

Female doctor is check in female patient.Antoni Shkraba, Pexels

50. When Urine Need Of Some Whizdom

I once treated a grown man who required a Foley catheter. His mom, who shared a home with him in the rural parts of Tennessee, was present in the room. I explained to them the need for the catheter, how it operates, and why it's necessary. 

His mother mentioned, "Well, he's never been with anyone before, and I'm not sure I like the idea of his first intimate experience happening in a hospital".

Male patient is laying in hospital bed with doctors by his side.DCStudio , Freepik

Sources:  Reddit 



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