Doctors, nurses, and every other member of the medical profession has come across some patients who aren't that bright, shall we say? Whether they ended up in the hospital because of their stupidity, or that made a problem that wasn't their fault so much worse with their ignorance. When these sorts of patients walk into the ER, doctors and nurses know they've got quite an evening ahead of them.
We searched through Reddit and found tales of the dumbest patients these medical workers have ever come into contact with and they're even stupider than we would have believed! Content has been edited for clarity.
No One Mess With This Dog
“My family member is a surgeon. He once had a guy come to the ER with his arm all torn up. He had gone to shoot the neighbors dog because it was barking/being a pain in the butt and missed. The dog got his arm and chewed him up good. He was patched up and released. Two hours later, the same guy is back with his other arm chewed to bits. He went home to finish the job, missed again, and the dog got his other arm.”
The Snack Sneaker
“I have many stories, but the one that sticks out most was a patient who ‘fired’ me. The patient was hospitalized for poorly-controlled blood sugar (>400) and CHF exacerbation. Patient was considered ‘independent,’ meaning they could get up and walk around unrestricted. I caught the patient raiding the patient snack fridge, carrying 6 cans of juice and 4 popsicles. The patient didn’t like when I explained how all that sugar and excess fluid was causing their symptoms to linger and get worse. They said they had been doing it all day and no one had said anything (because they kept throwing away all the cans/wrappers before staff could see them) and how dare I tell them what they can and can’t have. They spoke with my manager in the morning and luckily for me, I wasn’t assigned to that patient again. I don’t think we ever got their sugar below 300, though.”
Some People Never Learn
“I had a guy who came into the ER who had nearly severed one of his fingers while chopping wood, while wasted. Everyone has a bad day right? This guy was already down to only 2 fingers from previous wood cutting adventures.
Or the hammered guy who slipped while on the boat and put his hand into the blades, degloving (forcefully removing the skin from) his hand.
There was also the time we were removing a cast for a woman whose leg itched and then we watched maggots pour out. It took a couple days to find all those suckers.
Too many morons, too little time.
How Does Someone “Accidentally” Do THAT?!
“A young woman comes into the ER screaming bloody murder, the staff reacts and goes to help her but she says it’s not her, it’s her mother outside. We go outside but mother is already walking through the doors. She looks like she’s in mild pain but walking fairly normally. The daughter is hysterically screaming, crying and literally pushing us towards her mother. Mother denies needing a wheelchair and we ask what we can help her with. Mother says, ‘I accidentally washed my lady parts with Drano.’ Daughter passes out cold. Other staff help daughter and we take Mother in the back. Mother basically had massive corrosion in her hoo-ha. I know she went for emergency surgery and lost a lot of organs but I really don’t know what happened to her. We still talk about her and how it would be possible to ‘accidentally’ wash with Drano.”
He “Couldn’t Feel His Legs”
“I was applying emergency medical treatment to a teenager who fell down a hill while hiking.
He was panicking cause he couldn’t feel his legs.
But he was kicking and thrashing his legs the whole time.
So I had to ask him if he’s ever felt his legs. Turns out no. He’s never noticed until now.
He made a full recovery.”
Alternative Birth Control
“My cousin wanted me to come with her to the doctor’s office because she was nervous, so I obliged. She tells me that ‘something’s funny down there,’ and wanted someone she knew in the room with her while getting her exam. Doctor comes in, she tells him what’s wrong, so they do a pelvic exam on her. She apparently had a yeast infection of nightmarish proportions. She tells the doc and me, ‘I was told that jelly was like birth control, so I went and bought some.’ She bought Smucker’s jelly and put it in her hoo-ha. You could literally see the doctor’s hope for humanity fade rapidly from his eyes that day.”
Empty Stomachs Make Men Do Odd Things
“I was a nurse taking care of a man with gastrointestinal issues. He wasn’t allowed to have anything by mouth and had a tube that went down his nose into his stomach to suck out any gastric juices that were produced in order to keep his stomach completely empty. I went in to assess him and the canister connected to his suction tube was full to the brim with fluorescent orange fluid and he had an empty orange Gatorade bottle in his bedside trashcan. I told him he wasn’t supposed to be drinking anything, and he looked me dead in the eye and told me he hadn’t drank anything.”
What Is “Varo Cancer?!”
“I’m an ER nurse. We have one woman who comes in at least once a week for various complaints, each time having a new medical diagnosis that is very serious sounding. This time, I was her nurse, and she was telling me that she had ‘Varo Cancer.’ I asked her if she could have a family member take a picture of her paperwork from this doctor stating she had cancer so that I could actually see what kind. I then get to look at a picture of my facility’s discharge paperwork, specifically the preventative care instructions that are printed on every person’s discharge paperwork. She then points to the line that talks about the importance of smoking cessation and how not quitting can cause emphysema, COPD, and VARIOUS CANCERS.
I then blinked about 5 times while my brain rebooted before explaining to her that this was not a diagnosis section.”
Nasal Spray User Error
“I was working at an Indian services clinic a few years ago. We prescribe a guy Flonase (nasal spray primarily for allergies) which starts a conversation:
Guy: ‘Will this nasal spray give me anxiety like the last one I had?’
Me: ‘This shouldn’t cause anxiety, let me check your chart to see what it was you had before.’
I start trying to find which medication he had been prescribed previously but he says, ‘I just threw it away in the trash out front, do you want me to go grab it?’
Me: ‘No that’s OK, it will be in your chart and I won’t make you go rummage through the trash.’
Unfortunately, I don’t see any evidence of this dude ever having another nasal spray. And at this point, he insists that he is going to grab it from the trash. He grabs exam gloves from the box on the table (smart move, weirdo) and leaves the room. I can’t stop him.
He comes back a few minutes later with an albuterol inhaler. I’m perplexed.
Me: ‘Can you tell me how you use that, you don’t need to actually show me, since that came from the trash.’
This dude tried his darndest to shove the opening (meant for your MOUTH) into his nostril, gives it a squirt and a snort.
So yeah…we talked about the difference between nasal spray and an inhaler…I hope he learned.”
No Patience For These Patients
“All I do at my job is have patients sign papers and explain all the forms to them and of course if they want to read it themselves they are welcome, but most don’t and take my word for granted. Also, as a side note my name and signature are on some of the forms as well as a witness
One lady comes in and I start explaining the forms to her and she snaps at me saying, ‘You don’t need to explain, I can read just perfectly fine.’ That’s fine, I’m a pretty patient person too so whatever so I leave her be to read the forms herself.
Then she says, ‘Who is this person,’ pointing at my name on the forms and I tell her that it’s just me and she replies, ‘What business do YOU have being on MY forms that I need to sign?’
Me: ‘It’s just stating that I am a witness that you and not someone else signed the forms, and that you understand everything.’
Her: ‘Well, I don’t understand anything on these papers because you won’t explain them to me.’
A Little Lesson In Anatomy
“A mid 20s woman came into the ER. She tells me that she was feeling around her love canal and she felt a weird lump. It didn’t hurt, and she had no other symptoms like discharge, bleeding or foul smell. She was adamant that she didn’t use tampons and has not put anything in there other than her fingers.
So I did a pelvic exam and looked and saw nothing. That’s when it hit me.
‘I…think you found your cervix.’
I spent the rest of the visit showing her anatomical pictures and explaining her anatomy.”
The Parents Are The Worst Of All
“I have to say the dumbest patient I had was not a patient but the patient’s mother. This child, I want to say she was about 7 years old or so, was tested for meningitis because she had the symptoms. After any lumbar puncture, you HAVE to stay laying down, completely, 180 degrees. No inclinations. For a few hours. And drink a lot of liquids to counter act the massive migraine that comes as a side effect to the procedure. Pretty standard stuff.
Welp, this special ray of sunshine whose daughter I had to care for, asked me two questions, two very important questions:
1. Where are the straps? Me, of course, being a confused nursing student ask her, ‘What straps?’
She replies with question 2: ‘The straps so my baby won’t fall down? You know, you have to keep her upside down now so she doesn’t leak all her “back fluids.”‘
This…lady…thought we had to hang her child upside down like a fricking curing salami to prevent fluids from a very small puncture from leaking….
At this point you’re thinking: Well its simple right? Just tell her how it works. Believe me I did…The result?
‘You’re not a doctor! You’re a moron that couldn’t get into med school and you aren’t even a graduate! You’re going to kill my daughter!’ Thankfully her scandal drew attention of several staff, including a couple of doctors who proceeded to explain to her EXACTLY what I did. She proceeded to feign ignorance and say that I didn’t tell her this when I SPECIFICALLY spent a good chunk of time explaining it in detail to her as to why she needed to stay laying down and even offered water to her daughter. Her 7-year-old was more afraid of her mother than the needle she took to the back, which she said didn’t even hurt. Seriously, that gal was made of steel.
So in the end, I learned two things:
1. You can’t fix stupid, no matter how much you try to educate it and…
2. Get help when this level of dumb happens. More than one person telling them the same thing generally helps subdue stubborn rage. Generally.
Needless to say, I absolutely hate pediatric nursing and not even because of the kids, they are super fun, but how insane the fricking parents get. They act like bigger spoiled children than the kids you care for.”
She Warned Him Again And Again
“I had a patient who was 28 years old and smoked heavily. He developed Buergers disease, basically where the small blood vessels usually in the feet and legs slowly close off. It’s a rare disease caused by smoking.
He came in with an infected foot ulcer due to this and we eventually had to amputate his leg below knee. On multiple previous occasions, I’d told him to stop smoking, that it was the only way to stop the progression of his disease but he kept brushing it off. After this, I basically said, if you don’t stop you’re going to lose your other leg. While recovering from the operation, he pushes himself out in his wheelchair to smoke…
2 months later, guess who comes in with an infected ulcer on his remaining leg and ends up a double amputee at the age of 28? He just said, ‘Oh I’ve got no legs now anyway so no reason to stop.’ I tried to remind him about losing his arms but I moved on after so don’t know how he’s doing now. I just know that at some point he won’t physically be able to move anymore!”
“Whoo Boy, That Tested My Sympathy For The Mentally Ill”
“We have a mental health unit in a facility I used to work at. Nurse brings in a patient wearing a heavy, thick winter jacket after taking him out for a smoke. We ask him to turn out his pockets as we always do, to make sure we get any lighters or anything back. He complains. Nurse says she’ll get his stuff from him. We don’t override nursing staff ever – even if we wish we could – so he goes back to the room he was in.
Few minutes later we smell smoke. We go running over, where he has LIT HIS MATTRESS ON FIRE. Smoke everywhere. We grab the extinguisher, charge in and pull him out. Sprinklers go off. Unit is trashed for months. We end up having to evacuate the unit and take two floors worth of mental patients down to the gym to sleep on cots until we can make alternate arrangements.
And he looks at me, irritated with the arrangement in the gym, and asks me, ‘Can I go for a smoke?’
Whoo boy, that tested my sympathy for the mentally ill.”
A Series Of Poor Decisions
“I work in radiation oncology and one of our docs had a patient come in for a consult for low grade prostate cancer. We got everything ready for his treatment, and the day before treatment starts, he cancels. And we never hear from him.
A year later he shows up with much higher grade prostate cancer and is heavily tanned. Like leather handbag wrinkly and tanned. He decided to treat with ‘natural’ radiation therapy, i.e. sat in the sun for 8 hours a day for several months. Riiight. Now he’s got a prostate the size of a grapefruit and is high risk for melanoma.”
What Was She Supposed To Say To That Question?
“I work in a hospital in the Neuro (brain) unit as a tech and answer phones and stuff. One time I had somebody call in saying they were a patient a year ago and had a procedure where they had a piece of their brain removed. They wanted it back. I was so stunned at the question I was being asked that the line went silent so the person calling in asked me to go to the brain room to see where we had it.
This person legit thought our hospital had a brain room with shelves of brains kept in jars that we’d keep on the off chance that they were ever needed after being removed.”
“Hospitals Are Full Of Characters”
“I work in a hospital, so I have several stories:
The patient came in for a knee replacement surgery. He had to stay for a few days for therapy and a bit of recovery before being discharged. He went to one therapy class and asked lots of questions alongside doing his little workout and watching the other patients doing theirs (all of which were at different levels of recovery… slightly).
The patient watched intently as the nurses and PAs changed his dressings, then he said he could go home. His reasoning was that he already knew what to do now since he paid close attention to what the nursing staff had done. The doctors and nurses tried to convince him to stay. They told him it was just for a few more days. He refused. They discharged him and made sure he signed the proper documents that he was doing this of his own accord.
Two days went by and the patient is back. He got an infection at the surgical site and had to be admitted into the hospital. The kicker is that the day he came back would have been the day he got discharged to rehab or home.
This just happened today. I was on my way to the cafeteria from the 5th floor. I noticed a small crowd of student nurses by the elevator and stairwell. As I got closer I saw that they were blocking the path to the stairwell. Turns out a patient wanted to go home against the doctors orders. He had an IV, a hoodie, patient gown, and socks on. It was around 39 degrees outside.
The security guards went to stop him and he had a fit. Talking about how no one can tell him what to do. The hospital is horrible, the doctors need to work faster so he can go home and blah,blah,blah. When the guards got closer to him…. the patient then said he couldn’t walk far and had a bad heart.
This also happened today. Shortly after lunch, I went to get a patient for a test. He seemed cool at first then he started venting to me. He let me know that yesterday when he was in the ED, a nurse kept hitting him with a fridge door (he was on a stretcher which was next to the fridge).
He claimed that the nurse was rude and did it several times. He believes it was racially motivated. I told him to ask to speak to the nurse manager when he got back, but he seemed hesitant about it.
When we got near the elevator… the patient started saying that he doesn’t know why he is going for so many tests. That the doctors need to give him a break so he can relax. Keep in mind that the tests that he took (and the one I was taking him to), all required him to just lay in a bed while everyone else did all the work. This was also his 3rd test.
We arrive to the unit and I guide him to the room. He starts to say that he’s not sure that he even wants the test now. He’s apparently too upset to take the test and when he gets upset… his body hurts.
He wants the test to be rescheduled for tomorrow. When I let his unit nurse know that he wants the test rescheduled the patient interrupted me and said, ‘No, you see you are twisting my words around. I didn’t refuse the test. I just don’t want it to be done today. I want it tomorrow. You people just don’t get it. You all seem to think I’m stupid like those nurses I had yesterday.’
Yeah… the hospital is filled with characters.”
The Whole Family Was Nuts
“This is my dad’s favorite story to tell, he’s worked in ER for 30 years. Sometime in the mid 90’s, he was working in triage, the first medical person you talk to when you go into ED, a mother with three kids came in and stated they all needed to be seen. He asked what the issue was. They were in a grocery store the day before and accidentally got sprayed by water in the produce section. They weren’t getting sick. They didn’t have rashes. They got sprayed by water 24 hours before and she took them to the Emergency Room.”
Sometimes It Takes An Outsider To Make Sense Of The Situation
I was called out for possible OD and what we found when we got there was an amazing attempt for the Darwin Award. Lady was melting down pills and injecting them into her external jugular vein. Her thought process probably went something like this: ‘Well, you tie a tourniquet when you shoot up in your arms. Why wouldn’t you do it for the neck?’
So she had a tourniquet tied around her neck when we got there. The people she was with didn’t think to remove it. She hadn’t OD’d. Just passed out from lack of oxygen.”
There ARE Such Things As Stupid Questions
“I worked as a tele health triage nurse for a while. Once had a pregnant woman call and asked if she was sleeping with a new partner, not the baby’s daddy, if the baby would become her new partner’s child, genetically. But she posed the question like this: ‘Will the baby be his if he “nutted in me?”‘ You stay classy.”
“Do You Think He Can Still Hear Her?”
“I worked at nursing home and had an mid 60s man in for rehab following knee replacement.
Walked in one evening and he was in his bed and had passed away from an unrelated heart attack.
The family was called. They came in obviously heartbroken as this was unexpected. They knew he had heart issues but nothing this bad.
The man’s wife was in early stages of dementia and was upset and saying things in the room like, ‘Why did you leave me, you selfish prick!’
The age 40ish daughter pulled me aside, very concerned and asked me, ‘My mom is saying some very nasty things, do you think he is still able to hear her?’
Trying to be a pro, I thought for a sec and answered, ‘In the sense that Jesus can hear you, maybe. In the sense that you can hear me, no.’
She immediately hugs me and says, ‘Oh what a relief.'”
At Least These New Parents Are Involved!
“Young couple come in with their newborn:
YC: ‘Our baby is “pooping differently” and we are concerned.’
Doc: ‘Let’s take a look. How old is the baby?’
YC: ‘6 days old.’
Doc: ‘…Alright…Pooping differently than what exactly?’
YC: ‘Well, the first few days he pooped a certain way, and then the pediatrician had us start adding a special formula three days ago. And now he is pooping differently…’
Doc: ‘Go home, the baby is fine.'”
“I work in the emergency room. I was asking a patient about his home medications. He pulls a medicine bottle out of his pocket and hands it to me to clarify something. The label was peeled off so I open it. It’s full of weed.
I look at him wide-eyed, not sure what to do next. I recap the bottle, hand it back, and say, ‘That’s not the right bottle.’
He realizes what he’s done and just puts it in his pocket. We move on.”
Playtime Gone Too Far
“I was the patient. A few years ago I got an adult toy stuck downstairs. I couldn’t get it out so I had an embarrassing trip to the emergency room. I couldn’t even say what happened, so I wrote it on a piece of paper for the reception staff to read and they both started laughing. I was seen after a few hours and they used an x ray to see how far up it was and they used forceps to get it out.
It wasn’t my proudest moment.”