Everybody makes mistakes. It’s what makes us human. However, some mistakes can cost us more than others. When a writer makes a mistake, they have auto-correct and editors to cover their backs.

When a medical professional makes a mistake, it could cause someone their life. We took to AskReddit to find some real life horror stories as told by the medical professionals who caused them.

Photo Credit: Kyle Law Firm

Photo Credit: Kyle Law Firm

1. Missed GSW

“I missed a gunshot wound once. A guy was dumped off at the ER covered in blood after a rap concert. We were all focused on a gunshot wound with an arterial bleed that was distracting. The nurse placed the blood pressure cuff over the gun shot wound on the arm. We all missed it because the blood pressure cuff slowed the bleeding.

I was doing the secondary assessment when we rolled the patient, and I still missed it.

We didn’t find it till the chest x-ray. The bullet came to rest in the posterior portion of the thoracic wall without significant trauma to major organs.

The patient lived. But I still feel like I fucked up big time.”

2. Face Palm

“Not a big mistake but definitely awkward at the time. I was gluing up a laceration on a 14-year-old girl’s forehead. Anyone who has used Dermabond before knows that stuff can be runny and bonds very quickly. I glued my glove to her face. Her mum was in the room, and I had to turn to her and say “Im sorry, I’ve just glued my glove to her face”.”

 

3. Almost Got HIV From A Dead Guy

“Pathologist here. Biggest mistake I ever made was cutting myself during an autopsy on an HIV patient. Lucky for me, I did not acquire the virus, so everything had a happy ending. (For me, anyway. That guy was still dead.)”

 

4. ‘Tis But A Scratch

“I’m a nurse, but I was working in the ER when a guy came in for a scratch on his neck and “feeling drowsy”. We start the usual workups and this dude’s blood pressure TANKED. We scrambled, but he was dead within 10 minutes of walking through the door. Turns out the “scratch” was an exit wound of a .22 caliber rifle round. The guy didn’t even know he’d been shot. When the coroner’s report came back, we found that he’d been shot in the leg and the bullet tracked through his torso shredding everything in between. There was really nothing we could’ve done, but that was a serious “what the fuck just happened” moment.”

 

5. Caught In The Nick Of Time

“A few months ago, I accidentally ran a creatinine test on a patient when a comprehensive metabolic wasn’t ordered. It turns out that the guy was in renal failure, and no one knew. He was about to go in for surgery ( I believe it was a bypass, but could be wrong), but I got the results in time to stop them from putting him under. Shit could have been messy. I’m glad I screwed up, and I’m sure he has no idea that he could have died.”

6. Glad I’m Not Him

“My brother is a surgeon, and during part of his residency, he had to work in the pediatric unit. He was working with two newborns. One was getting much better and fighting for life. He was going to make it just fine. The other baby was hours from death. He wasn’t going to make it. My brother was in charge of informing the families. My brother realized about 15 minutes later that he had mixed up the families.

He told the family with the healthy baby that their baby wasn’t going to make it, and he told the family with the dying baby that their baby was going to be just fine. He then had to go back out to the families and explain the situation to them. How devastating. To be given a glimmer or hope and have it ripped away from you not even an hour later. That was most upset I’ve heard my brother. He felt destroyed.”

7. Fingers and Toes

“Fun story, while my wife was having her C-Section for our daughter she over heard one of the nurses say “there’s only nine,” and my wife thought they were talking about my daughters fingers or toes. So she’s freaking out that our daughter is missing a finger or toe, and I keep assuring her that our daughter was perfect, which she was.

We found out about 10 minutes later that the nurse was talking about the surgical tools that were supposed to be accounted for, and one of them was missing. So my wife got to spend the next 2 hours in x-ray because they thought they had left a tool inside my wife, and stitched her up. They found the missing tool, not inside my wife, a couple hours later, so that was a relief.”

 

8. All’s Well That Ends Well

“As a very young doctor in training I misdiagnosed a woman with epilepsy. Some years prior she had sustained a gunshot wound to the frontal area, damaging the underside of one of her frontal lobes and severing an optic nerve to one of her eyes, as well as some of the muscles that rotated that eyeball. Surgery saved her life but the frontal lobe was scarred and the eye was blinded and always pointed down and at an angle away from her nose.

A few years after that she began having spells of a bizarre sensation, altered awareness, a pounding in the chest, and she had to sit down, stop what she was doing, and couldn’t speak. These were odd spells and I assumed she had developed frontal lobe epilepsy from the scar on her brain. Increasing doses of anti-seizure drugs seemed to work initially, but then the spells came back.

A couple years after my diagnosis her endocrinologist, who treated her for diabetes mellitus, checked a thyroid. It was super-high. The spells were manifestations of hyperthyroidism. She drank the radioactive iodine cocktail which ablated her thyroid, got on thyroid replacement therapy, and felt well thereafter. No permanent harm done and she was able to come off the anti-epilepsy drugs.”

 

9. “Oh, Shit”

“Not me, but my mom. She just retired as an OB/GYN and she told me about a time early on in her career when, while not a real medical mistake, she still almost ruined the operation. She was performing a C-Section I think, and she dropped her scalpel on the floor. Before she could think, she blurted out “oh shit” as a reaction. The mother, thinking something was wrong with the baby, started panicking. It took a team of nurses, the husband, and the mother of the patient to calm her down.”