I could never, ever work in the health care field.
I’m too squeamish and the sight of really bad injuries would just be too much for me.
So I tip my hat to those folks who are working hard to keep us healthy!
And we want you to hang on tight because these stories about the worst things health care workers have seen are pretty wild.
“Up in Taos, a man ingested an entire container of aluminum phosphide tablets. A couple tablets are meant to be placed into prairie dog holes and then the moisture that accumulates inside the covered up hole triggers a toxic gas.
The man was taken to the ER… where he was foaming from the mouth, deemed to be a toxic hazard for the entire hospital, moved to a tent outside, where he then d**d. I was not there, but my spouse was there.
The image of what happened that day to that man and to those around him… is haunting.”
“6 kids, oldest was 12, were allowed by their parents to ride on an ATV on a public road. They ran a stop sign and got hit by an SUV going about 60mph.
Kid 1: d**d. Like d**der than d**d. Open skull fx exposed gray matter, numerous other fractures. Grand parents doing CPR. Told them to stop and we left him in the ditch for the police investigation.
Kid 2: my only patient from the call that I actively worked as other units took the other 4. Massive head trauma. Brain matter coming from the nose and ears. Le fort fracture. Made intubating a b**ch and a half. Breathing spontaneously with a pulse so go to work. Fx everywhere.
Blood everywhere. I’ll never forget her bright green eyes looking at the roof of the box and she screamed for her mom. Wasn’t easy for her to do with all of her top teeth totally separated from the rest of her skull. D**d at the hospital.
Still remember a lot about the scene a few years later. Date, time of day, weather (it was warm for November I remember taking off my jacket), smell of gasoline, smell of blood from the d**d kid, sounds of screaming. But I’ll never forget seeing all those kids shoes strewn all over the county road and saying “oh f**k” as I called on scene.
Oh and the guy that got hit by a train and lived. That s**t was wild.”
3. Belly pain.
“Guy came in with some belly pain, going on most of the day. A few typical medical problems and normal vital signs. I see guys like this all time.
Usually it is no big deal. Of course, he is a pretty nice guy and even apologized for “wasting my time on a stomach bug.” His belly is a little tender all around. Thinking it might just be diverticulitis, I get a CT scan of the belly and get some labs. He comes back from CT and he definitely starts having that “I’m sick,” look to him.
I take a look at the CT. I’m not a radiologist, but even I can see the findings; he has pneumotosis intestinalis (gas in the lining of the intestine – the gut is dying or already d**d). This is wicked bad. A quick scan through and it looks like it involves most of the intestine. I call the radiologist who confirms and says that there is no part of the gut that is unaffected.
Plus, he has multiple large clots all down the aorta and involves basically every major branch of the aorta from the celiac plexus down and multiple organs show changes.
Call the on call surgeon and he comes right down…he tells me what I guess I knew already: this is not survivable. The surgeon, the patient and I have one of the toughest conversations I’ve ever had. We basically have to tell him that he is going to d** and it is probably going to be that night. He calls his family and they come in and say their goodbyes. About 5 hours after he walked in, he lost consciousness and he d**d a little but after that.
I’ve had surprise diagnoses and surprise d**ths before, but this might have been the toughest. I’ve never had someone come in walking, talking and looking fine, figured out what was wrong, and been hopelessly unable to offer anything but pain meds and a (brief) ear, tell them it is hopeless and watch them d**.”
“An elderly man who came in for exposure. EMS said a neighbor called.
The man came in with a core temp of 32C (89F). Many people are delirious at this temp, but he seemed pretty with it. It was d**d of winter and his gas had been turned off as he was unable to pay. His legs, up to the knee were frozen. I’ll say again, frozen, literal ice blocks. At the same time, he had tiny burns, some even third degree on his torso, hands and upper legs. He had been keeping as warm as he could by holding a light bulb near his body.
He would get burned when he fell asleep and the light bulb touched him. The shear suffering he endured to get in that state is heart breaking…even more so because with a single phone call to the gas company, as it was cold and he was elderly, they would have been required to provide him gas service until spring time. Of course he didn’t know that and didn’t have a phone.
Instead he basically froze in his own home. One of the burn surgeons tried his best, but unsurprisingly, the guy was too far gone.”
“ER doc here. 26 year old girl, unrestrained passenger riding with a d**nk driver. Her head went into the wind shield and popped the whole wind shield off the car.
Her skull was filet’d open from the forehead up, brain completely exposed and falling out of her skull, largely intact but horribly swollen. Rest of her face and body was essentially unmarked. She was breathing on her own but not moving purposefully. She got intubated, taken to the operating room. I asked the neurosurgeon what the plan was, and he said “I’m just gonna cut off the part that’s sticking out”.
She had a partial lobotomy, skull was left open with the hope the swelling would go down. She was basically brain d**d that night and d**d a week later. Driver was d**nk but had a seat belt on. Walked out of the ER that night.”
6. Good lord…
“New dialysis patient had just gotten his shunt implanted, wasn’t comfortable with it, must have been fussing with it, and… it came out.
For those that don’t know, a dialysis shunt is connected to the brachial artery, just after the aorta, so that it can pump a high volume of blood into the dialysis machine to filter it. With the shunt ripped out though, the heart was basically just pumping blood straight out of the body.
So by the time we get there this guy is laying next to his couch, just… empty. Pale, cool, he almost looked like wax. You would almost think Dracula had gotten to him, if not for the human body’s worth of blood on the floor and walls around him. We tried CPR for the family’s sake, but his heart had nothing to pump.”
7. Can’t unsee it.
“I once saw a four-year-old girl whose head was run over by her dad‘s tractor by accident.
Her and her mother had went out to give him food during harvest after dark. He was ready to get started and they thought she was in the truck. Unfortunately ran over her head. She was still alive. Field trach tube.
Just awful. Certain things you can’t un-see.”
8. Hoarder house.
“A guy fell down in a hoarder house. Wife was to embarrassed to ask for help. So she fed and “cleaned him” on the floor.
Patient laid on a dirty tile floor for 2 weeks. His right arm was so swollen and covered in maggets, the arm was as large as a leg. Removing parts of his clothes so much tissue was already breaking down all over his body.
Black and oozing puss. Man spent his last week alive in a nightmare fever dream. I’ve had more graphic d**ths of course but holy s**t what a miserable way to d**.”
“A mentally disabled man who was also blind and deaf who lived with relatives. Apparently he lived locked away in the basement and they would just bring him down bread and peanut butter and water to eat and that’s all he had eaten for over two years.
The police were called when the neighbours saw an emaciated bearded old man crawling around the backyard naked and confused. Guy comes in, leg wounds full of maggots, covered in filth, lice in his hair and beard, emaciated and starving. I remember receiving him from the emergency department, trying to calm him down because he couldn’t see or hear and was mentally disabled.
We washed him and cut his hair and deloused him. Do you know how people always complain about the hospital food? I have never seen a patient more appreciative of getting three square meals ever. We would signal to him by taking his hand gently and touching it to his mouth that dinner was in front of him and he would get a look on his face like it was the best thing that ever happened in his life.
He always ate every last morsel, and we ended up ordering him double portions until he put on a good 40 pounds. He was with us for about three months awaiting placement. He went from 90 pounds to 130 pounds in that time. He was actually very sweet. It makes me sick that his family treated him like that. I’m not sure whatever happened to them but I know there was an investigation.”
10. A bad accident.
“Intestines laying next to them in the stretcher. Don’t fall off a motorcycle and land on a guard rail.
I guess technically people who arrive d**d or in cardiac arrest are in worse shape, but this was the most visually terrible.”
“Med student here.
Had a guy come in who jumped in front of the subway. He was brought in with a weak pulse but a second ambulance came in shortly after and handed me a garbage bag. I thought it was his belongings but when I looked inside, it was the patients right leg.
Apparently his leg was trapped under the train and decision was made to do a below knee amputation in the field (it was taking too long to get the train lifted). According to the train conductor, the patient looked him straight in the eye and jumped in front as the train was pulling in.
We also did resusitative thoracotomy (cracked his ribs for direct access to massage the heart) but he was too far gone and we pronounced him shortly after.”
Do you have any stories like this?
If so, share them with us in the comments.
Thanks in advance!