People hooked on substances will do anything they can in order to get their next fix. Even if that means lying to the one person who can definitely call them out on it; their doctors. Let's just say, these people did not think their plans through very well.
"I was working the general medicine floor, and we were receiving an ICU step down of a 30-year-old guy who was recovering from diabetic ketoacidosis (what happens when your blood sugar is so darn high that your body fails).
However, we know this patient very well. He will purposefully not take his insulin and eat terribly to go into DKA to get admitted to the hospital to get Dilaudid (super morphine). Granted, DKA can give you horrendous abdominal pain, so we do give people pain control.
This guy is now out of the ICU, so his sugars are much better controlled. But he’s in his room howling, grabbing his stomach. The nurses ask me to go talk to him because they just can’t deal with his shenanigans anymore. I go in the room and the guy is wailing - doing the whole I-want-narcotics act.
'Hey man, I heard you’re in pain,' I said.
'YES I NEED DILAUDID AND THESE PEOPLE WON'T GIVE ME ANY,' he screams.
'That’s very strong medicine. Let’s try something less intense first. Have you tried Tylenol yet?' I calmly ask.
'No man! I’m in pain! You have to give me Dilaudid!' he yells back
'Well no. I’m going to give you Tylenol first,' I firmly state.
'You’re not going to give me Dilaudid?' he asked, shocked.
'No,' I replied.
'Forget this then! He stands up, rips his IV out of his arm. And walks out the door. No paperwork, no prescriptions, nothing.
See you later dude."
"I had a doctor turn me away as a narcotics' seeker, but that uh, wasn't exactly the case.
I got turned away as a narcotics' seeker from an urgent care doctor who said I was just an idiot wearing bad shoes. She cited wearing Tevas -- which I wore because I couldn't bear the compression of putting my foot into a shoe any more -- to the clinic as evidence of this. All of this was with my father in the room. I couldn't cite any trauma to the foot, and she said it was swollen, but not enough to be broken (which I agreed with, which is why the whole thing was confusing). She ordered x-rays, confirmed it wasn't broken, yelled at me, (I told her I wasn't even asking for anything; I just wanted to know what was wrong with me. This seemed to agitate her more), then kicked me out.
A few years later, because the foot has been bothering me ever since, I go to a doctor, and they take x-rays. Apparently the old x-ray from that urgent care clinic was within the same network so that the radiologist who examined the new x-ray compared it with the old one. I got a letter saying it showed a redemonstration of degradation of the navicular cuneiform joint. Degradation of the joint. Redemonstration.
I got turned away for a substance seeker at 26 years old by a doctor who totally missed that I had arthritis."
"I’m an EMT and had to do hospital clinicals. It was clear I was an EMT student, as it was on my shirt and lanyard, so I could obviously not give any pain medication. This lady came in complaining of stomach pains, which turned into different pains all over her body when she didn’t get what she wanted.
I was in taking her blood pressure and she kept moaning asking me to make the pain stop.
Eventually, she let out a blood-curdling scream 'GIVE ME MY OXY.'
She quickly tried to retract that and said 'I’m sorry can I please have oxycodone?'
so I had to be like 'Uh no,' and hand her off to a nurse. So that’s addiction kids."
"I'm a dentist. Had a patient complain of toothache which required extraction. Did extraction and patient left in good health. Patient called within 20 minutes of leaving saying they were in the worst pain of their life. They said it was 11/10 pain and requested a script for oxycodone.
Patient came back the next day in tears. Shambles. I start to feel bad because it looked like they were in genuine pain. Take a look in the mouth and everything is fine. Healing is normal. And once again, they request oxycodone.
I say no, we need to think of something else. And that is where it changed. When I declined giving a strong narcotic they flipped the switch and became violent. Yelling. Throwing instruments. Had to be walked out. This is where I learned substance seekers will do anything to obtain what they want."
"I was taken to the ER when I had severe abdominal pain. I took a stuffed animal to bite and scream into so I wouldn't bother people. However, my dad (retired EMT) noticed a woman who appeared to be faking or exaggerating. After I calmed down a bit and was able to have conversation, my dad told me about the woman. The woman loudly complained about stomach pain and how long she was waiting for a room even though she was 'violently throwing up' all the time. Well she had a baggie but she would dry heave then maybe spit a little into the bag. She only took breaks to talk to her friend/boyfriend/whatever.
She finally got called back (for some vitals I think) and she miraculously stopped hurling and sped walked on over. She had to come back shortly after. Dad said she looked furious and once she sat down she grabbed the baggie and started up again.
I feel bad for the ER people that have to deal with these kinds of people. They're the ultimate breed of Karen because unlike in public, others are more likely to side with the faking person since they don't always know better.
It also makes it hard for people like me who are in horrible pain, makes docs think you're substance seeking or wanting attention when you really just need help."
"Had a patient on my internal medicine inpatient service who we thought was having real seizures, but he had them so frequently and they were slightly different every time. We suspected pseudo seizure/faking it to get a quick fix. He was so good that we even intubated him once during his 21-day hospitalization.
He was on two anti-epileptic medications and still somehow ended up continually seizing when shift change occurred (they are more likely to medicate).
Anyhow, he 'seized' right before I was about to leave.
Before we gave him medication to break the seizure, I tickled his foot. He subtly smirked and withdrew his foot.
Whole room laughed and walked out. He stopped seizing after that."
"I worked in an ER for years, and especially recall one little guy who came in with the complaint of intense abdominal pain. The guy had a history of med-seeking but was given a bottle to collect his urine specimen.
A few minutes later, he returned with the specimen bottle with some urine and a large rock with the diameter of a quarter which he pointed to emphatically. He had apparently heard that kidney stones usually required narcotics to alleviate the pain but had no idea what a kidney stone actually looked like! It gave the nursing staff a good laugh for the rest of the shift."
"Intern year on medicine, guy showed up with fevers, chills, severe pain, with strange forms of mold and other odd bacteria growing out of his blood cultures. We were treating him with IV antibiotics, antifungals, and giving him narcotics for the pain. Then...
The insurance company calls. This man is on their blacklist (yes, that's a thing). He has racked up millions of dollars of medical bills by going from hospital to hospital and getting admitted for these same symptoms. His policy was cancelled, so he started doing it with his ex-wife's insurance policy. They clearly explained that they would not be paying a single cent for any of his care.
A nurse walked in on him doing something secretive, and he immediately tried to hide it as she walked in. We searched the room and under his mattress, found his stash of needles that he was using to inject his own fecal matter and other trash into his veins to make himself septic.
He was discharged immediately, but maintained his innocence the whole time, even as he was wheeled out the door."
"This summer, a woman crashed her car with her family into a tree after a baseball game. She came into our ED claiming that she was having stroke. She was obviously faking her symptoms (her facial droop would come and go, she would be able to feel her arms one minute, and then they would 'go numb' again). Her labs came back and it turns out she was trying to get out of a ticket from driving under the influence. I'm not sure what happened to her or her family after but she wasn't charged with the driving under the influence.
Worse situation, though- a coworker told me about a man who faked a stroke years ago and was given a tPA treatment by the ED pharmacist (can help break down blood clots in emergency situations within a certain window if time but is super risky, can cause hemorrhages and blood loss). This was definitely the fault of the hospital staff for approving the treatment without an obvious blood clot but it's insane how much some people will risk just to get out of work, to get narcotics and benzos, and to get off of the streets (which breaks my heart)."
"I was an EMT in training. First run I made was to a frequent flyer. We go in and this lady is flip-flopping all over the floor. Paramedics didn't seem too concerned, and just casually worked on her.
Then I noticed two men in the kitchen making sandwiches. While we were loading her up they were sitting there casually making lunch.
After it was over, I asked and the paramedics said 'Oh that was her son and her boyfriend. The whole group is a bunch of junkies. She is just trying to get some substances from us. E.R. will probably kick her out.'
Few years later I ran a call, the son had flipped his car and killed himself and she died a few months later."
"One time, a guy was dropping off his friend for an appointment in the hospital and in the middle of the lobby had a stroke with right sided weakness. The ED docs were called to the lobby and started rushing him to radiology.
Once we get him down the hall he screams 'WAIT I NEED DILAUDID,' and that’s when we knew.
So after a persistent conversation once the man realized he wasn’t getting his fix, he got up and walked right out of the emergency department."
"I had a frequent flyer patient who used to fake seizures. In my hospital, we'd often give IV Ativan for seizures. Every time she came in, we would find a new way to have her tell on herself. The standard assessment when you think someone is faking a seizure is to hold their hand above their face, then drop it so the hand would slap their face if they truly had no control of their body. A real seizing patient will slap themselves. A faker will make their hand take a sharp turn right before it would have hit their own face.
Sometimes I'd call another nurse over and say, 'What is that substance again? Something with and A? Aspirin?'
The patient would stop the fake seizure for a second, yell 'ATIVAN!' then go right back to faking the seizure.
She also had two boyfriends who didn't know about one another, both of which would bring her gifts and constantly climb into the hospital bed with her. Sometimes I'd get her to break her fake seizure by calling one boyfriend the other one's name. Knowing she thought I was going to give her Ativan, I'd draw up some saline into a regular syringe (she knew what the pre-filled saline syringes looked like and she'd peek) and as soon as I gave it to her, she'd stop faking her seizure.
Then when she realized she wasn't getting high like she wanted, she'd accuse me of not really giving her Ativan. I'd be like, 'Wait, you remember that? I thought you were having a seizure!? You mean you really weren't?'"
"I had a kid fake having sickle cell. I admitted him, and could tell something just wasn't right. The kicker was when I gave him some Benadryl and one measly mg of Dilaudid.
Now, if you are at all familiar with sickle cell anemia patients, you will know they endure a massive amount of pain and can handle a ton of pain medication. It's why a lot end up being substance seekers. But anyways I give this man the Benadryl and Dilaudid, and he falls face-first into his dinner. There is no way this kid has sickle cell.
He also ended up refusing me as his nurse for being rude because I wouldn't give him pain medication because he couldn't hold his head up he was so stoned. The next day the morning nurse walked in and told him, 'You have a spleen, you don't have sickle cell and the doctor is coming to talk to you about it.'
He escaped out the back staircase. Ridiculous."
"Back when I was a medical student there was this guy, 30s, well-dressed, put together, who showed up to the ED complaining of leg pain after he just had surgery to fix a broken tibia (shin-bone) a week prior. His leg was more swollen when he came back, and he said he was in severe pain. The ED doctor at that time was worried about this guy's leg, but the patient's orthopedic surgeon recognized the guy's name and told the ED doctor on the phone to hold off on morphine but didn't tell him why. Then the ED doctor gets another phone call five minutes later from the same orthopedic surgeon, telling him to go ahead and give the patient morphine.
As the ED doctor was about to order the patient some morphine, an ED nurse comes running around the corner to tell him to stop. Turns out that she saw the patient making a phone call pretending to be the orthopedic surgeon. The second phone call was from the patient, not the surgeon.
Later on, the surgeon recognized the guy because he had just come in earlier that same week with the same complaint, and it came to light that this guy was hooked on opioids, and went home after his surgery and kept stomping his leg on the ground until it got more swollen so he could get admitted for morphine."
"Had a patient as an intern who was desperately trying to get me to write a script for Ativan. We had a nice long talk about the potential risk of benzodiazepines and explained that I didn’t think Ativan or Xanax were the best meds for her considering her poor respiratory health. She asked what we normally use benzos for, and I offhandedly mentioned acute management of seizures.
She immediately begins flailing her arms and head with her tongue sticking out for about 10 seconds while still sitting completely upright on the exam table (think an excited muppet). I stared at her for several seconds as she quickly returned to normal conversation. I asked her if she had a history of seizures. She said no. I then asked her if I was supposed to think that her flailing was a seizure.
She yelled 'WHAT ELSE WOULD IT BE?' and stepped down from exam table and walked right out of the office."
"Air Force Nurse here- We had a lady who was addicted to barbiturates. She was a dependent so we couldn’t really turn her away when she would make appointments. She would specifically request phenobarbital, which is a strong barbiturate that is used to treat seizures. The Air Force doesn’t even really carry it any more, except for in veterinary medicine or special circumstance cases.
Anyways, this lady had long been cleared of having any seizure disorders whatsoever. ECG, neurology, the whole nine had been done multiple times. She was only trying to get the substance for recreational use. Regardless, she got pretty desperate and came in again, only this time she brought drawings with her that her 'son drew of her having the seizure.' They were terrible, stick figure drawings, some with x’s over their eyes, drawn on the backs of coupons. When we turned her down again, she then proceeded to have a 'seizure' in the room, while standing straight up, just shaking and flailing her arms around, glasses falling off her face, a true performance.
It wasn’t a seizure. Never was. We saw her off and on again but she knew we weren’t going to give her the barbies."
"We have quite a few pain med-seeking frequent flyers on my unit. This particular patient came in a few months ago, for the umpteenth time, complaining that her cat bit her foot. The 'bite' was barely visible — maybe an inch long, no drainage, no redness. She would literally be sitting in bed, playing on her iPad, perfectly content, and then as soon as the doctor or I walked into the room, she’d double over in pain and say in the most annoyingly pitiful, whiny voice, 'Is it time for my morphine yet?'
It was even worse when she had to walk to the bathroom. I am incredibly empathetic, but I’ve never seen someone make walking 10 steps look so laborious. What does she have for a pet, a freaking tiger? Anyways, some rooms on our unit are semi-private and that morning, a new patient was brought into the next bed. She was in violent restraints and screaming at her nurse — I’m talking verbally abusive profanity at the top of her lungs at 6:50am. My patient, who was reeling in pain from her wound just moments before, was happily playing games on her iPad, completely oblivious to the situation, until of course, the doctor came in. At which point, she started crying and rated her pain 10/10. They did a bedside I&D (incision & drainage) later that day just to appease her. Nothing was drained and the resulting incision was markedly larger than the playful nibble she claimed to have gotten from her kitten."
"I have a history of ovarian cyst, having two surgeries in the past for ovary torsion (twisting of the ovaries ligaments causing lack of blood flow). It’s an extremely painful medical emergency that can result in losing your ovary if not taking care of immediately.
Anyway, I was in the ER waiting, throwing up into a garbage bag and hallucinating from pain for seven hours until I was finally seen. The hospital I was at is in the center of a city crippling with substance (mostly opioid) addiction. For the seven HOURS I was waiting, I had seen multiple completely strung out, definitely withdrawing people walk in and get helped almost immediately. I knew the pain.
I told them when I checked in 'I’ve had this surgery before, I know the pain, I know what this is, I need to be helped immediately.'
I know the signs, a lot of my life I was blind to my moms substance habits but once it came out of the shadows when I was older, I became familiar with what addiction looks like. I know withdraw is dangerous, it can kill you, I’m not trying to overshadow that.
But to be throwing up and coming in and out of consciousness for seven hours and watching people coming in for a fix helped immediately made me so incredibly mad. And not to mention when I was FINALLY helped, the doctor and nurses were so condescending and definitely accusatory to me faking my pain, demanding I tell the truth, and refused to give me any pain medication until my ultrasound results came back.
When the ultrasound came back and had to go into emergency surgery immediately, I hope all the help felt like absolute trash.
Let’s just say, my fiancé gave them more than a mouth full."
"My friend is an EMT. During his medical training at a hospital, there was one man who came in several times saying his stomach hurt. He wasn't in that much pain from his actions and was clearly just trying to score painkillers.
My friend decided to get this man to stop coming. He pulls him into the back and mess with him about his stomach pain.
'It could be an intestinal blockage. So we need to give you a colonoscopy.'
The guy freaks and tries to back out of the whole situation. But too late. The guy was sent to get his butt photographed from the inside while my friend went about his work.
Two hours later he sees the same guy. He's now very hunched over and walking slowly.
To rub salt in his wounds, he asks the guy: 'Did they find anything?'
The man angrily responds: 'No they didn't find anything! I just wanted my darn fix!'
Guy had to pay about $500 for the emergency procedure.
They never saw him again."
"A couple came in for withdrawal symptoms, complaining of severe shakes and nausea, all the while laying in their respective beds completely comfortably. They also both went on and on about all kinds of weird past medical history that was obviously googled, and requesting a workup. It was all really fishy.
Then they were overheard talking to each other over the phone when no one was in the rooms making sure their stories were straight. They'd also apparently thrown away their IDs before registering, and the girlfriend also asked the boyfriend when her birthday was. They went and retrieved their stuff from the garbage after they were discharged.
I have no idea what their goals were. It seemed like they had a home somewhere, so they didn't need to be in the ER for a place to stay. Only thing that we could actually believe was that they did some sort of IV substance."