It takes a special type of person to work in a hospital's emergency department. The people who come in - at all hours of the day and night - will make even the most seasoned medical professional question their choices in life. There is just so much that can happen...
The people in the following stories know that all too well, as they recently shared on a Reddit thread asking doctors, nurses, and other hospital workers to reveal the weirdest patients and situations they've ever come across on the job. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"I am an emergency room nurse. One night, a young homeless guy came in complaining of pain to a certain area of his anatomy.
A quick exam revealed something seriously wrong: his junk was swollen, red, infected, with multiple puncture wounds in various stages of healing. I casually asked if he's been shooting up down there. He said, no, but he had been shooting up in his arm then inserting the used needles into the shaft 'hide them.'
An x-ray revealed around 30 fine-gauge needles lodged into his junk. He'd broken the needles off the used syringes and shoved them into just about anywhere and everywhere down there.
Luckily, emergency surgery got most of them out."
"A 13-year-old boy (let's call him James) comes in with his mother. He is having stomach pain, nothing we have not seen before in the ER. So I go ahead and start an IV while making some small talk. You know, what's wrong, did you eat anything weird, those kinda question.
His mother speaks up and says that while she and the husband went to see a friend, they had left him at home. She gets a call not an half hour later from James stating that they need to come home now, that something was wrong. They find James in the bathroom with some dirty magazines on the floor and a very long adult toy shoved up his butt.
I did not see that coming...not at all. We have had this before, but never a kid. X-rays showed he had gotten it pretty far up there, there was no way it was coming out on its own. And to make it worse, the toy belonged to his sister. She had not put it up after her and her boyfriend had used it.
We had to ship him to Children's Hospital to have surgery to get it out.
I felt sorry for the boy."
"Once, we received an ambulance call of a guy who was involved in an motor vehicle accident. He was riding up front. His buddy hit a lamppost and the post impaled his entire abdomen. The post was at least 10 to 15 cm in diameter. Lucky for him, the post penetrated his entire abdomen thus stopping excessive bleeding.
When we arrived on scene, the fire department was working on cutting the lamppost as it was too long for the ambulance an cutting too close would cause too much heat and risk injury. So we took the ambulance to the nearest 7-11 to get some ice to cool the post. Then, we placed him in the ambulance.
On the way there, I called the surgeon on call and presented the case. He accepted and we prepared the patient. As we were wheeling him into the elevator, the pole got lodged as it was too big for the elevator door.
We had to call the fire department again but, this time they came with packets of ice from 7-11. The patient went on to the theatre where they managed to remove the pole.
He survived with no disabilities."
"I worked in a psychiatric ER. One night, I saw a case of Foile a deux, a shared delusional disorder between two people. In this case, it's a mother and her adult daughter. The mother was so paranoid, believed the government was after them, that they were reading their thoughts, they legit had aluminum foil in their purses that they would put on their heads to block out the government from reading their thoughts.
She'd obviously raised her daughter to believe this was true. I believe they were found in a train or bus station and were acting so strange the police brought them in to be checked out. They barely spoke to us, would not tell us where they were from or where they were going, I'm assuming they gave us false names and dates of birth. They also would not be separated, and we couldn't try as the mother had some sort of heart condition and making her panic could've possibly made her heart give out.
They refused anything offered to them; meds, food, etc. I overheard the mother telling her daughter that anything we gave them would have trackers in them so we'd be able to track their movements.
They wanted to admit the mother as she was the one most obviously ill but didn't dare separating her from the daughter. They eventually just let them go as they were not a danger to themselves or others. I remember calling them a free taxi to take them whenever they wished but they never waited for it and walked off into the night.
To let you know how rare one of these cases is, I've worked in psychiatry for over 10 years and this is the one and only time I've ever seen a shared psychotic disorder."
"I was pulling a night shift as a CNA at a hospital when this big muscular guy storms into the ER with a plastic zip lock bag in one hand. He stops at the desk and yells, 'I need a DNA test for this,' as he is waving the bag around.
A woman at the front desk blinks, then starts to calmly explain that he is in the ER, and the ER doesn't really do things like DNA tests for...whatever he has in the bag. She then asks hims what is in the bag.
'I have just come back from being overseas with the army for months, came home to my wife, started fooling around with her and THIS,' holds bag up, 'Came out of her, and its not mine - I know what mine looks like, so I want a DNA test to prove that she has been cheating on me!'
The front desk lady proceeded to call a nurse to help explain to this guy that the ER doesn't do DNA tests like The Maury Show, and even tried explaining to him that some women have thicker discharge when they get excited and thats what it probably was. The guy was not having it, kept insisting his 'cheating wife' was sleeping around and he needed to prove it with the sample he found.
Eventually, he was lead out by cops. Probably went to take his rage out on a defenseless animal. I still crack up at, 'I know what mine looks like!'
I suppose it could have gone way worse..."
"My mom and I both worked in ERs.
She was working with there was a tiger attack at the local zoo. A zoologist or someone was training a new employee in the tiger area, and for some reason, the cage was left open. The tiger came into their area. The trainee scaled a relatively high fence, but the zoologist wasn't so lucky. She came in to the ER barely alive...they worked on her for a long time.
She came in looking perfectly intact. She was finally declared dead. She had been swiped in the back of the neck and a doctor put his hand in the wound post code (examining trauma). He could move the bones in her face because they shattered almost perfectly. My mom said her pic in the paper was totally different.
About a year ago, a young man comes in with complaint of abdominal pain. Not a priority so he's around for a while. His boyfriend was raising cain in the waiting room about the coffee machine not being stocked...whatever. Eventually, we find out he has K cups in his butt. It was bizarre."
"A little girl came in with her parents and without her foot. Apparently, her grandpa was riding the lawnmower with her on his lap and she fell off and he ran over her foot/leg. Sadly, it couldn't be reattached. That girl was cool as a cucumber though.
The hospital I was at is close to a prison, so we get a lot of inmates lying about anything to get out of being in prison for a while. One night about 11 pm, two cops came in following a gurney. This dude was face down and moaning like he was dying - handcuffed to the bed. I was like, 'Oh, okay, he's trying to get some meds (complaining of lower back pain) or just get some outside time. I sent him off to get some pretty pictures taken. X-ray came back and there was a 2-LITER BOTTLE IN HIS BUTT. And boy, was it in there. The guy started to throw a fit and needed to be sedated and people started figuring out how to get it out of there.
The doctor I was following asked if I wanted to see the surgery - I said, well, yeah.
A few hours of blood and stool later, and the dude got a few hours out of prison and a new butthole.
Another time, a woman came in via ambulance because her neighbor saw her have a seizure in her front yard. Conversation was as follows:
Doc: 'Do you have any idea why you had a seizure?'
Her: 'Yeah, I haven't taken my Keppra in a couple weeks.'
Doc: 'Why haven't you been taking your Keppra?'
Her: 'I wanted to buy smokes.'
She was discharged SO fast."
"I had a woman and her 16-year-old daughter come in. The daughter was complaining of abdominal pain. The mom was carrying a bible.
During the exam, the doctor asked if there was any chance she was pregnant. Mom goes ballistic, screaming, 'WE ARE A GOOD CHRISTIAN FAMILY! HOW DARE YOU!! I'LL SEE THAT YOU ARE FIRED!!"
We got the labs back, and, of course, she was pregnant. The doctor got a huge smile on his face.
We returned to the exam room and he again asked the daughter if there was any chance that she was pregnant. The mom responded as expected, demanding to see another doctor. The doctor looked at mom and said, 'I'm not talking to YOU!'
He again asked the girl if she could be pregnant and she responded with the typical, 'Oh goodness, no.'
The doctor handed the lab results to the mother and said, 'CONGRATULATIONS! Another immaculate conception!' and walked out of the room."
"A 40-year-old woman came in complaining of a sore mouth. She opened up to reveal a horrendous, discharging abscess with what looks like fungal infection. After a bit of probing, it turned out she had tried to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a duck a week prior.
Then there was the 25-year-old guy, who was a groom-to-be on his stag, due to get married the following week. His 'friends' had taken him to a gentlemen's club, and thought it would be funny to put a ring on their heavily inebriated friend's junk. They then handcuffed him to a park bench and left him there. He was found by police god knows how long after and brought in. Suffering some cold effects but otherwise ok, that is until we fully exposed him to find a purple, swollen lump down there. I believe the surgeons did a pretty good job cosmetically, but he was left with no function.
Finally, there was the 30-year-old guy brought from a rollover accident as a major trauma call. He was the passenger in a car that was hit by a truck on the motorway and rolled down an embankment. All other occupants declared dead on scene (three others). He was assessed head to toe and all we found was a fractured finger. Turns out, he wasn't wearing a seatbelt and was ejected through the car window during one of the rolls, escaping the fate of the other occupants by some miracle."
"I don't work in an ER, but when I was 16 years old, I got a minor in possession charge (got caught drinking in the desert with some friends).
At the time, the city I live in was running a diversion program which included an overnight stay in the ER. I saw a lot of crazy stuff that night: an elderly woman who got into a horrible car accident and broke both her arms and a young girl stabbed in the abdomen with a rusty screwdriver (she refused to drink the barium liquid to check for internal bleeding because it 'tasted gross' and she thought she was pregnant).
It started to slow down at about 2 am and the chaperone was about to let me leave when they got a code blue call. He picked up the phone and got the word as to what was happening, hung up the phone and said, 'You probably need to see this.' In rolled a Hispanic kid, no older than 17; part of his gang initiation was to play Russian Roulette. He lost.
All of this taken in by a 16-year-old kid who drank two Rolling Rocks in the Arizona desert with a few friends. They stopped the program after several other kids had 'traumatizing experiences.'
That night will never be forgotten."
"Actually I didn't see this in the ER but in the ICU! I'm a lab tech and I draw blood around the hospital.
One time, I went into the ICU to draw a man's blood and what I saw was easily the strangest thing I've ever seen so far in my past three years of working the medical field. I walked into the man's room and came upon two nurses and a nursing aid attempting to adjust the man in a better laying position in his bed.
The guy was in his birthday suit and that's when I saw it. Craziest thing ever. I saw what appeared to be a man's junk turned inside out? It's really the only real way I can think of it and explain it. Everything seemed very deformed and disfigured and WHITE.
I'd never seen actual exposed balls before and never planned to either. They were so white though. Never knew what color the insides of nuts were and never thought about it but yeah, they had a very white coloring to them.
The fact that everything was completely deformed and exposed just made it all the more strange. Equally disgusting and fascinating at the same time.
I've only been drawing blood for three years now, I'm 21 and currently in nursing school, but so far, yes sir, that's the strangest thing I've seen."
"It was fairly quiet in the ER and we were sitting around the nurses station talking to each other. One of the nurses had been in the lobby talking to the registration ladies.
She came back with a white face and said, 'Guys, I don't know what to do.'
This woman had walked in the lobby holding a cup and went to hand it to the nurse. The woman said her husband had been impotent, but now she was pregnant and she wanted us to 'check his sample for swimmers.'
This lady was standing in the lobby of the ER, in front of everybody, holding a small Dixie cup with no lid, filled with fresh baby batter. She seriously thought we would take it back and look under a microscope to see if it was viable.
The nurse had to politely deny her cup and direct her back out the door."
"I worked as a tech at the front desk of an ER. One morning, at about 6 am, as my shift started, a 75-year-old Asian man walked in and tried speaking with me.
All I could make out was, 'No fart, no poo poo.'
I called our translation line and had them get a Vietnamese translator. After about 10 minutes of him on the phone with the translator, I took the line and the translator explained that the man thought something 'slipped' in his rectum.
I took him to the X-RAY after seeing the doctor. Once we got the film back we saw that he had a huge can of hair spray way up in his colon. When the doctor asked him how it got there, all he could come up with was, 'I don't know, someone must have pushed it up while he was sleeping.'
This was just one of the many things I've seen in people over my time in the ER. But it was definitely the biggest."
"I was a frequent visitor to the ER when my mother and grandmother were taking turns dying. I literally got to know the staff because I was there with either one of them on at least a weekly basis. The ER that I frequented was basically a great big room with a bunch of beds separated by curtains. Since there was nothing but curtains, there was also very little privacy when the doctors or nurses were talking to the other patients or each other.
One day, a guy came in who only spoke Portuguese, so he needed an interpreter. I couldn't see him, but I could hear he was having trouble speaking. The interpreter had a very loud voice and apparently this guy got wasted, found a beehive and tried to open it to eat the honey. Great plan, except it wasn't a beehive, it was a wasp's nest. He has been stung around the mouth and face many, many times. I wish I had been able to get a peek, but everyone who did get to see him audibly gasped when they walked in."
"It was about 2 am on a Friday night. I was working alone that night and because it was so quite I was sitting in the nurses station up in the ER. In a very rare circumstance for the hospital, the department was almost completely empty (although this changed about 30 minutes after all this was over). So I was sitting up at the Nurses station when in comes a young 18-year-old guy on a trolley, screaming and shouting, breaking the peace. He's covered in blood and there's his girlfriend shouting at him and nurses trying to calm him down. His arm is soaked in blood. Eventually, they calm him down, sort of clean him up and the doctor talks to him:
Dr: 'So what happened?'
Prat: 'I punched a window.'
Girlfriend: 'The glass shattered and has cut his arm (Judging by the amount of blood this was an understatement).'
Dr: 'So what have you had tonight?'
Prat: 'Six Stellas, four redbull drinks, two bottles of merlot, two tabs of speed, three bombs, four mixed drinks, two joints, a bottle of Jack, and another six Stellas (I'm not making this up).'
I'm sitting over at the station wondering how this guy is still alive.
Dr: 'Ok, we're going to do some x-rays and see whats up.'
Prat: 'Nah doc, nah. Get me out of here. I've got to go to work.'
Dr: 'No, you need to get your arm looked at.'
Prat: 'Nah doc. Get me out. It's money in me pocket.'
Dr: 'No, you need to go to x-ray.'
Girlfriend: 'You're going to get the x-ray.'
This continues on for 10 minutes until eventually he comes down to my x-ray department and me to take a look at his arm.
Prat: 'Come on mate. Get me out of here. Get me out.'
Me: 'Keep still whilst I take two pictures.'
Prat: 'Come on mate. Ive got to go to work. Get me out.'
Me: 'Keep still!'
Prat: 'Come on mate hurry up. What's your name?'
I don't answer.
Prat: 'Is it Luke?'
I don't answer, trying to get everything positioned.
Prat: 'Luke, Luke, get me out of here mate. Get me out.'
I don't know where Luke came from because that's not my name.
Me: 'Keep still!'
About 40 minutes later (it should have been five minutes max), I take him back to the doctor and nurse. What he's done is severed the tendons to fingers 3, 4 and 5 on his right hand and damaged 1 and 2. He can barely move those two fingers the others don't do anything. There's also a large amount of flesh missing from his forearm. I tell the doctor all this and he agrees with me and Prat needs to see the plastic surgeon first thing in the morning. He goes over to tell him.
Dr: 'You need to see the plastic surgeon.'
Prat. 'Nah mate nah. I've got to work got to work. It's money in me pocket.'
Dr: 'No, you need to see-'
Prat: 'Nah mate nah. I need me money. I've got to work got to work.'
Nurse comes over.
Nurse: 'You need to see the plastic-'
Prat: 'Nah, love, nah. It's money in my pocket. I've got to work. I've got to work.'
I'm at the nurses station enjoying the show trying and failing not to laugh. Prat spots me and calls me over to help him.
Prat: 'Luke, Luke, help us out mate.'
The doctor and the guy's nurse both look at me for help so I go over.
Me: 'Look, you have to see the doctor in the morn-'
Prat: 'Nah mate nah. I've got to-'
Me: 'HOLD ON. If you don't see the plastic surgeon first thing in the morning, you'll never work again.'
He pauses and looks at the doctor and nurse.
Dr. and nurse: 'He's right.'
Prat turned up at the plastic surgeon's office at 7 am the last I heard."