Any doctor can tell you that some people simply aren't the brightest, which can lead to some serious facepalm moments. From ridiculous injuries to brainless statements, these medical professionals had to keep one
Being Extra Careful.
“Years ago I worked in the Emergency Dept. I heard a patient, a young woman, tell the triage nurse that she had come in because she had pink eye. Then she said, with proud sincerity, ‘And I made sure I didn’t look at anybody. I didn’t want anyone to catch it.'”
Oh, No No No.
“I am not an MD, but as a Medical Technologist I was required, early in my career, to go to the emergency room to draw blood from patients suffering all manner of illnesses and injuries.
An elderly woman came in late one night with stab wounds to her abdomen. When asked who did this to her, she said, ‘I did.’ The next obvious question was, ‘Why did you do this to yourself?’ She answered, ‘I had such terrible gas, I thought I could release it by poking some holes in there.'”
That’s Not A Candle…
“A woman came into the ER screaming in pain with her hand wrapped in a bloody towel. First thing I noticed was she smelled of alcohol and cigarettes.
We calmed her down and took off the towel. Her hand had multiple lacerations with active bleeding.
She then went on to explain what happened:
‘I was in my house, grabbed a candle off the mantle, lit it and then used the candle to light my cigarette. I had no idea that it wasn’t a candle and it was an M-80 (very strong explosive firecracker). I am so glad I got the cigarette lit before it went off in my hand.’
I also had the duty of removing her wedding ring before we stitched her up!
All in a days work.”
“I had a patient come into clinic and say, ‘I can’t do this.’ (And she raised her arm over her head). I said, ‘You’re doing it.’ She looked up and said, ‘Oh!’ thanked me, and left.”
Better To Just Plead The 5th.
“I once cared for a middle-aged patient who presented to emergency with a dildo-related, very embarrassing situation. He purchased the toy for one of his sexcapades. Curiosity hit. And he shoved the damn thing in his pooper, high-high up! ‘Me first’ attitude didn’t do him much good.
Funny feelings subsided fairly quickly and the horror struck when he couldn’t get it out. His drainage was jammed, the toy was slipping further up and after about 24 hours of wishfully waiting for it to naturally pass, it hurt bad enough to seek medical help.
The official party line, that he vehemently iterated, was, ‘I just fell onto it, how else do you think it got up there!?’
Needless to say, emergency surgery was necessary and he landed in the ICU with sepsis related post-op complications. It took him loooong before being able to use the toilet normally!
Though I have seen some really absurd stuff in the ER, including a gun-shot to the penis, this surely wins the now-that-was-stupid award.”
So, So Many.
“I’ve had a lot of patients come in with food allergies who said, ‘Last time I ate the reaction wasn’t nearly as bad!’
I’ve had patients come in with bogus complaints and, after an appropriate evaluation to make sure nothing was wrong & subsequent discharge, they go to the lobby and call 911.
I once had a man brought in by police for evaluation after a car accident. He didn’t want to provide a whole lot of details about what had happened (we like to know the ‘mechanism’ of the car accident – frontal, rear-ended, T-bone, rollover, etc, as different mechanisms cause injury patterns). We knew that he’d been fleeing the police while driving a stolen vehicle. During his evaluation, we noted a gunshot that ran along the shaft of his penis. He didn’t want to provide any details about that, either. Shortly thereafter, we get a call from another hospital that we should be on the lookout for a patient who had left their hospital in a bit of a hurry, without signing out or even finishing his evaluation. Then some other police officers showed up and the whole story came out. He was allegedly robbing a bank and his gun fired while he was pulling it out of the front of his pants. He left in a hurry, apparently went to this other hospital, saw some cops asking around so ran out & stole a car and then wrecked that while fleeing more police who started chasing him because he was driving erratically. Talk about a bad day!
I’ve had quite a few patients over the years with gunshots that run along the long axis of the leg (down the thigh, or along the calf, or both, or through the top of the foot) or through the penis (oddly, it’s never women. Do women not put guns in the front of their pants??). The stories folks will come up with to explain such a bullet trajectory are amazing (‘I was lying down when I heard the shots,’ ‘I think the shots came from up on a building’ etc.). I did have one 78 year old man who was at least honest: he was with a prostitute when he heard gunfire. As he was pulling up his pants to go check things out, the gun in his front pocket went off and shot him in the thigh. (Yep. 78. Really.)
And finally, I didn’t see this one as a patient, but once, when driving in for a shift, I saw a man trimming a tree branch. He had thrown a rope with a loop tied in one end over the branch. He was holding the rope with one hand, with his foot in the loop, and while perched several feet off the ground was using a chainsaw to saw the branch with the other hand (yep, the same branch he’d passed the rope over). I considered stopping and telling him to ask for me when he got to the ER.”
That’s No Critter.
“I had this story third hand, from a friend who worked in a hospital.
A husband and wife come into the ER. They are obviously from far outside the city limits. The wife doesn’t do much except stand there looking uncomfortable. The husband does the talking, and he makes an amazing claim: he says that there is some sort of critter living inside his wife.
The nurse doing initial intake asks why he thinks that. ‘Because it bites me when we have lovin’.’
Once a doctor gets the woman on an exam table, feet in the stirrups, it becomes clear there is no animal inside her. But there is a plastic tampon applicator up where it should not be.”
That’s Not How It Works…
“Actually, this was an experience that my father had. He was an OB/GYN who practiced for over 30 years. He had a young patient who had come in for birth control. He prescribed an oral contraceptive and as he did with all of his patients, spent at least 15 minutes discussing the pill and instructing her about the way to use it effectively.
Several months later, the woman and her husband came in with a problem. It appeared that the woman might be pregnant. My dad asked the woman if she had been using the pill every day, had she missed any doses, was she taking the pill at about the same time each day, etc. He noticed that as he asked his questions, the woman would look at her husband who would then answer my dad. Puzzled, my dad asked the woman if she was the one taking the pill. ‘No, my breasts became tender so my husband has been taking the pills for me,’ she replied. He then spent some more time with the couple attempting to explain to them why that just wasn’t going work as an effective means of birth control.
This was far from his only ‘now that was stupid’ moment with a patient. He had a lot more patience than I would have had.”
“Working in ER surely gives you a lot of interesting experiences, it’s like riding an emotional roller-coaster. From the most tragic one that makes you devastated, to the silliest one that makes you have to resist the urge to roll your eyes so hard to the back of your head.
The most recent one was an 18-year-old girl who ate an insect repellent (in this case, mosquito coils) because her mother asked her to do the dishes. She went on a temper tantrum, shoved a handful of crushed mosquito coil into her mouth, and managed to swallow most of them before her mother came to interrupt.
I wanted to laugh but kept reminding myself that it would be unempathetic because her mother told the story with tears streaming down her face. Talking about teenagers and their drama.”
Do Not Try This At Home.
“My friend works as a A&E nurse and she love telling stories of things she has had to help remove from various places but the one I remember most is this. Before I tell the story. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!!!
One day a two men walk into the A&E department one of whom has a light bulb in his mouth. The story unfolds that they read somewhere on the internet that it is possible to put a light bulb in your mouth but once in there because of its shape it is impossible to take out again and he didn’t think this could possibly be true and decided to test it, well guess what? It is true. So they took him off so that they could get the light bulb out and sent him on his way all in all fine just a little embarrassed. That is not the best part.
Four hours later on that same day another man comes into the A&E department also with a light bulb in his mouth which he had successfully inserted but was unable to remove, thinking this was a very strange coincidence questions ensued. Turns out the two boys from before had to get a taxi to and from the hospital the second man was the taxi driver who heard about the day’s events from the two boys as he was driving them home, didn’t believe it was true and decided to try it for himself when he got home.”
Stupid And Sad.
“Actually all the weirdest cases was at forensics department. Was 2 victims which were a couple whom died due to the fact that, as the man was electrician, he wanted a bit of extra arousal and put a cable in his anus. Sure it gave him that extra kick he was looking for, but killed him and the woman on top of him.”
How He Pays The Mortgage.
“As an ER Doc for 22 years, I’ve seen countless stupid things patient’s do to themselves (heck it’s how I pay my mortgage), but there are a couple you will never forget.
1) A funny, nice, but very skanky gal came in one day; she had been hooking to score drugs. As a dare, the john asked if she could ‘shoot a golf ball out of Trump’s favorite grabby part.” She said, ‘why not?’ She straddled in with legs bowed and laughing. As I was doing the pelvic, the vacuum released on the golf ball, previously lodged in the netherlands, shot across the room hitting me in the shoulder and bounced out into the hallway. She then shouted ‘Four!’ We were all rolling on the ground.
2) I worked at a trauma center in a community full of geniuses. One July 4th, a nurse grabs me and pulls me into the room with a patient holding his bloody hand in a towel. Dr J, help him! I quickly draw up pain reliever, and remove the towel to assess the damage. The guys thumb was hanging on by a thread and the index finger was gone. As I’m injecting him with pain meds, I ask, ‘So how did this happen?’ Now remember, all great ER stories involve geniuses who usually augment their IQ with lots of alcohol. Sure enough, he and his ‘buddy’ had been fooling around and his ‘buddy’ lit an M16 (powerful explosive, military grade) and handed it to him lit. Which he gladly accepted into his right hand. ‘Why did you take it??’ He looked up sheepishly and replied, ‘Guess that wasn’t a good idea, huh?.’ Yeah, probably not.”
THAT’S What You’re Upset About??
“I’ve had many, but one of my favorites occurred when I was a resident at Bellevue. It still makes me laugh.
Patient: (Indignantly) Why did the social worker have my baby taken away from me?!?
Me: Because of the positive tests for 3 substances in your system.
Patient (very indignantly): SUBSTANCES????”
“Chronic Forehead Bruise From All The Facepalms.”
“A few of the (very) many:
-Working in the ER as a medical student, I was helping clean up a young man’s toes that he had blown off while hunting (he’d been resting the muzzle of his shotgun on the end of his boot when it ‘spontaneously’ discharged). Wanting to make sure he was adequately numbed up, I asked about the pain. ‘Oh, you’re doing great. This doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as when I did it to the other foot a few years ago.’
-During residency in Buffalo, NY, we frequently saw an injury we referred to as snowblower hand. People would try to clear packed snow from the chute of a 2 stage snowblower, and as the tension released from the auger, well… I once treated a man for snowblower hand as he explained that he’d bought brand new machines for himself and each of his 4 sons for Christmas. He said he’d (jokingly) written on the Christmas cards that he wasn’t going to pay their hospital bills if they somehow got hurt. He was actually a very nice guy, laughing at himself for his carelessness.
-Had a man complain of blood in his stool. The very maroon colored sample he gave us tested negative for blood. ‘I just changed my diet. Do you think it’s because I’m eating too many beets?’ Yes. Yes, I do.
-Funny, but sad, too. I’ve seen many teenage girls come in with some variation of: nausea/vomiting, mild abdominal cramping, breasts are tender, haven’t had my period in [X} months, and this feels like the last time I was pregnant. Me – ‘Have you taken a pregnancy test?’ Them – ‘No, because I wasn’t sure if it would be right,’ or, ‘No, because I am not pregnant,’ or ‘No, why do you ask?’
-Another recurring one – ‘I am weak and tired, short of breath, and my legs are swelling, so I didn’t go to dialysis because I was too sick.’ (FYI – these are the very symptoms that dialysis will fix in kidney failure patients).
I have a chronic forehead bruise from all the facepalms.”
When Your Stupidity Becomes Lethal.
“A patient I took care of many, many years ago was absolutely the stupidest ever! Or foolish. It seems that she had discovered a lump in her breast. She went to the doctor after a few months of doing nothing about it. The doctor did a biopsy and told her that it was cancerous.
She fled. She refused to speak to the doctor, who had called her for follow-up. The doctor telephoned her, went to her home, spoke to her husband, practically begging her go come in for a lumpectomy. He was nearly desperate, because he knew the biopsy-related diagnosis was severe. Finally, when the lesion reached the surface and opened a fistula, she listened to reason and went into the hospital. Stage IV carcinoma! By then it had been a couple years since she had found the lump.
They did a bilateral mastectomy and then treated her with HEAVY radiation to try desperately to save her. She ended up with a colostomy (the cancer had metastasized to her intestines!) and the heavy radiation treatments had caused a HUGE lesion on her back. The lesion was half the width of her back from shoulder to shoulder, and extended from mid-thorax down to just above her hips and her spinal vertebrae were thinly visible through the skin grafts!
The stupid part? She was, when I was treating her, suing her physician for not doing enough to get her in for surgery! And, she told me, she expected to WIN her malpractice case!
She died, of course. I don’t know if her husband followed through on the suit or dropped it. That poor physician had done EVERYTHING he could to get her to return for surgery, short of camping on her front lawn! For TWO years! facepalm“
The Horrors Of Nursing Homes.
“It wasn’t the patient who was stupid, but it was about her. This elderly woman fell at a nursing home, they put her back in her chair, tell her to wait for the doctor/x-ray tomorrow and promptly ignore her complaints. So she calls 911 from her cell phone. We show up, we’re assessing her, I send my partner to go get paperwork, and he comes back with an utterly baffled RN who wants to know what we’re doing. I tell her that we got a call for this person, she’s complaining of post-fall pain, and can I have the paperwork please? The nurse explains that they didn’t arrange the transport and didn’t have any paperwork ready. Then, she goes on and asserts that the patient cannot go to the hospital with us. This is where it gets dumb.
I rack my brain trying to think of a legal reason why an alert and oriented adult couldn’t make decisions about their health care.
‘Is she on a hold of some kind?’ I ask. No, she is not.
‘Is she conserved?’ No, she is not.
‘Does she have dementia that prevents her from making care decisions?’ Nope. ‘So why can’t she go?’
‘The doctor said he didn’t want her sent out.’
‘Okay, well, she’s an adult, and unless she is legally detained in some way, she can make her own care decisions. We’re taking her to the hospital now, can I have paperwork on her please?’
Obviously exasperated, the nurse tells us to hold on and runs off. My partner and I roll eyes at each other, we and the patient roll eyes at each other, everyone rolls eyes at each other, and we load the patient onto the gurney. As we’re heading out the door, having given up on paperwork, the nurse catches us and says the doctor is allowing us to take her, and hands us the papers. Uh… thanks?
Nursing homes are ridiculous, and usually the most generous sources of absurdity in the EMS world.
Bonus Round! A crew I worked with got called out in the morning to a nursing home for a cardiac arrest. They verified his deadness, worked him, called him, and informed the staff that the guy was going to stay dead. Twelve hours later, or should I say ‘after shift change,’ the same crew gets called out to that same nursing home. To the same room. For a same age and sex person in cardiac arrest. They’re thinking no way, there’s no way they’re THIS bad. They walked in, verified that it was the same guy they worked 12 hours ago, and asked the staff a little bit about him. Apparently, the nursing staff assured them that the patient had just been speaking with them. They said they doubted it because they declared him 12 hours ago. You better believe it turned into an investigation.”
From Dumb To Dangerous.
“I remembered two.
I had one woman who took the anti-fungal vaginal tablet suppository I gave her orally She came in complaining, I quote, ‘The pills you prescribed me are effective but can you give something smaller next time? The pills are so big. I have a hard time swallowing them.’
Another man came to emergency with downward dislocation of a shoulder joint which he said happened when he raised his arm to strike his girlfriend who he’s marrying the next day. He defended himself by saying he was drunk and couldn’t control the amount of force he put in swinging back his arm. I really wanted to hit his head with my chart about 100 times.”
A Complete Salad Of Lodged Items.
“I worked as ER orderly and still in medical field now. Over several years in a trauma hospital there has been a veritable salad of natural ingredients. Different people – different times:
and to top it off
a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch.
The howling laughter is still echoing in the lounge every time anyone sees ranch dressing, and it’s constantly stocked in the fridge.
The cucumber guy admitted to thinking it might get stuck, and specifically picked a ‘natural item’ there is ‘less chance’ that it would be bad if it got stuck.”
She Did Follow The Demo.
“I work in a 3rd world country with poor and illiterate patients. So under the family planning program, a couple was advised regarding the use of condoms. They had recently given birth to a baby. Now the lady doctor demonstrated the manner of using condom by putting the condom on her thumb and pulling it down gently.
Few months later the women arrived with an unwanted pregnancy. On inquiring we found out her husband used to wear the condom on his thumb during the intercourse.”
Holy Yeast Infection Batman.
“I’m not a doctor, but this happened to a doctor who did some work for our agency. The patient came in for a complete physical. As the doctor was performing a gynecological examination, he encountered a very strange dark discharge. He discontinued the exam and told her she needed to see a specialist right away, explaining his findings. She said, ‘Oh doctor, my primary care doctor told me to use jelly to prevent pregnancy…’ Yep, grape jelly.”
Where Did He Pick That Up?
“When we discharge a patient after a liver transplant, we usually spend the last 2–3 days of the hospital stay familiarizing the patient and their caregiver with the medicines they are going to be on, when to take them, what to do if they throw up after a dose of medicine and so on.
One of our patients returned for the scheduled follow up with a remarkably shiny nose and breathing through the mouth.
Upon quite extensive questioning (I could not figure out what was going on but our superb nurse coordinator figured it out eventually), it emerged that he had been spraying Healex into his nose.
Healex is a wound dressing product. After cleaning an incision, it is sprayed on to it and dries into a thin waterproof layer which keeps the clothes off the skin.
I have no idea why the patient decided to spray it into his nose. He was not supposed to spray anything into the nose.
In any case, it had, not unexpectedly, created a water and airtight seal in his nostrils.
The treatment, of course, was to wait patiently until a cast of his nostrils fell out in due course of time.”