No doubt about it, doctors have a tough job. Actually, EVERYONE who works in health care has a tough job when it comes down to it.
And they get to see every aspect of our society at their jobs. They deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly on a daily basis.
And that’s why these stories are gonna be very informative!
Here’s what AskReddit users had to say about the interesting patients they’ve dealt with.
1. Close call.
“I once cared for a repeat self-harmer that put a knife into their neck, regretted it, taped it in place … and BICYCLED TO THE HOSPITAL. A few miles, past carfuls of normal people. Parked the bike, walked in to triage to check in.
Through a waiting room of grannies and kids and men with chest pain. With a kitchen paring knife duct taped in place sticking straight out.
CT scan later showed that the tip of the blade was 2mm from the carotid artery.”
2. Cows are dangerous.
“60~70 year old lady arrives at Trauma ER.
She was being CHASED BY A COW, running for her life and fell off a 2 meter ledge. She had several fractures, but only really complained about her leg, and tried to get up and walk away several times telling us she was fine.
Initially we thought she had some head trauma and was completely disoriented, but it turns out she was just that stubborn. She was hospitalized for awhile and had a good recovery.
I do wonder if the cow fell of the cliff as well…”
“In my Obgyn clerkship, this woman came in pretty hesitantly at the urging of her girlfriend for pelvic pain. She apologized if she was wasting our time and said it was probably nothing.
This poor lady had a cyst THE SIZE OF MY HEAD on her ovary that caused torsion (twisting and cutting off blood supply). She was rushed into surgery but lost that ovary. People say it’s more painful than child birth and here she was, apologizing to us.”
“A patient can in through the ER for a series of x-rays. He claimed to have fallen down some stairs and we basically had to x-ray both legs from the knee down.
I have never met a bigger, whinier baby. He moaned and groaned and flinched at the lightest touch, refused to hold still, would not straighten his legs, complained about the table and xray cassette being too hard…
There were no visible injuries aside from a few scrapes and nothing obvious on the x-rays. He was still convinced that he would never walk again and had broken both legs irreparably.
Funniest part was that we had a different patient come in on the same day with a similar complaint. He actually had fractures in both legs and fee.”
5. Sorry about this.
“Young trauma patient ~17yo T-boned by a garbage truck.
Moving him on to the CT table he said “OW” and silent tears cane down his face. Then he apologized for complaining, and thanked us profusely. Turns out he had a few broken vertebrae, broke half his ribs, and had a fractured hip and clavicle.
Kid whimpered a few times during the CTs, and again apologized when we came back in. Like dude, you could scream in my face and I’d understand.”
6. He’s just fine.
“Patient presented to the Trauma ER with an 18 inch machete blade firmly implanted across the top of his skull.
He was driven to the hospital by a friend, walked on his own into the ER, had totally normal vital signs in triage, a slight steady trickle of blood from the wound, denied pain and was in no apparent distress.
Due to a mass trauma event, the ER was insanely busy, so it took us a while to get him a bed. In the meantime, he calmly sat in the waiting area, (nearest to the Triage station so we could keep an eye on him) and watched TV, as staff were running around like crazy, phones ringing nonstop, patients b*tching about the wait time to be seen and exhibiting other types of tomfoolery.
Machete man just sat there tranquilly exhibiting his true Zen mastery of machete head wounds.
All these years later, I can still see him with that machete lodged in his skull. He had an uncomplicated treatment course and suffered no impairment from the injury. He was cooperative and nice to all his care givers.
He also profusely thanked us for caring for him. Probably one of the few that did that night!”
“Guy was about 30 years old with a decent laceration on his face but nothing major, stated he was jumped by some guy in the bushes out of nowhere and had to fight him off.
He didn’t really complain about his laceration too much and stated his back was a little sore and that he feels fine and didn’t want to go to the hospital. Vitals all looked good and he appeared fine. But Just to be safe I wanted to give his whole body a look over to be sure he didn’t have any other lacerations and God was I glad I did.
As I pulled this guy’s large coat off (winter at night) I see a knife protruding from his lower right back with a slow but steady stream of blood coming out. Guy was as shocked as I was.”
8. OH MY GOD.
“A woman walks into the ER walking very bow legged. She seems calm and explains that she has some swelling in the right side of her external genitals. She thought she my have had an infected cyst and she drove herself hoping for help draining it and antibiotics.
We didn’t think much of it, it clearly wasn’t a rush to the front of the line emergency. So an hour or so later they bring her in to a room. She has a fever and high blood pressure but still calm and stoic.
So the NP gets her story and has her remove her pants and underwear and cover with a sheet. She is apologizing profusely about not being able to clean herself very well before coming in.
When NP pulls up the sheet her l*b*a is swollen to the size of a coconut. She had an abscess that was starting to cause sepsis.
The only emotion she showed was embarrassment about not being able to clean herself because of the pain and a single tear down her face when the wheeled her to the ER.”
“There was a guy who attempted suicide by firing a nail gun into his ear. I took care of him in the ICU and he remembers everything. He’d been depressed a long time and decided to end it.
Nailed himself, sat around a while before deciding he didn’t want to die, drove himself to the ER, walked inside and fainted. It was so weird how stoic he was about it all.”
10. We got a bleeder!
“As a med student, I was third row in helping to try to code a drying GI bleeder.
People who have end stage liver disease don’t make clotting factor well, and also have anatomical difficulty that leads to big, ropy vulnerable blood vessels in the stomach that are at risk to bleed. And when people bleed inside the stomach you can’t hold pressure – you simply must get them stable enough to have life saving endoscopy and clipping of the bleeder.
This guy was Exorcist level vomiting bright red blood, he was exsanguinating into his stomach and we couldn’t get his blood pressure to stabilize enough to get a scope into him for a while. There were runners bringing us coolers of emergency release blood, and the splatters and pools of blood he had vomited reached across the hall.
When we finally got him packed up to go to the endo suite, the family next door quietly apologized for taking our time for their chronic non-emergent issue and could they go home now?”
11. Family drama.
“We had a patient recently who was palliative (expected to die naturally). His body functions were only at about 10%, he wasn’t eating or drinking and he wasn’t peeing or defecating anymore. He just laid in bed with his eyes closed breathing.
When people get to this point usually the only care we provide is for comfort vs. Sparing life. So we dont give people food or water because they are usually unconscious and more likely to choke and be harmed.
This patient’s daughter was some big shot lawyer from the US and when she saw that we weren’t feeding her dad she started recording everything we did and said to her and then phoned the police. I remember a police officer coming to the unit, asking to speak to me (the most responsible nurse at the time) and asking me why I was withholding food.
I explained to the officer that I had physicians orders to withhold food, and that the patient was at a severe aspiration risk. The police officer was like “cool, case closed”, and left.
The daughter was unfortunately banned from the hospital premises by management for interfering with patient care.”
“The underdramatic are more interesting:
Mid-70s woman, generally healthy, presents to outpatient neurology clinic with an altered gait. Dragging feet more than usual, feels she’s tripping when walking up steps. Family describes tendency to repeat herself more often.
Neurological examination normal other than a slightly odd, slow and dragging gait. Honestly looks like she’s “faking” an odd gait, suspect malingering but above average amounts of liquid in the areas surrounding the brain can give these types of symptoms.
CT scan the brain, almost half of her brain was smushed to the other side and filled up with water (massive sub-arachnoid cyst, think intracranial water ballon), probably been growing for years. No other symptoms, she only came in to our clinic since her daughters were worried about her memory.
Made a full recovery by draining the fluid, still makes me wonder how many people out there are walking around with half a smushed brain without knowing about it.”
13. Here’s the deal.
“Overdramatic: Tons of stories but the most recent was a patient demanding a heavy Percocet Rx (far more than I would prescribe even post-surgery) after having a nasal swab for COVID-19 completed.
I get that it’s temporarily uncomfortable as I’ve had it done several times myself but no way was I buying him writhing around screeching about how much pain he was in. When the patient eventually realized I wasn’t budging it was as if someone had flipped a switch and he “miraculously” recovered.
Underdramatic: Patient tried extracting his own tooth and inadvertently pushed it up through the abscess and into his right maxillary sinus. To my surprise he adamantly declined even local anesthesia no matter how much my staff was pleading with him.
Patient autonomy is a grey area here in the US (given how insanely litigious everything is) so after receiving clearance/written consent to proceed with treatment I figured he’d just have to learn the hard way. Instead of performing a lateral window root tip retrieval I took a surgical suction tip/curette and removed all three fragments through the alveolar ridge warning him several times beforehand that it would hurt like hell.
The guy never even flinched. I was able to complete the procedure, debride the infection and graft the floor of the sinus with membrane/sutures without incident.
How about you?
Do you work in healthcare?
If so, tell us about some of the interesting patients you’ve had to deal with. We look forward to hearing from you!