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Medical Horror Stories

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Being a doctor or nurse is one of the hardest jobs out there. The lives of others depend on them, and one tiny mistake can lead to someone’s death. These cases were so traumatic that they made them question whether they’d picked the right job.


1. Cysticercosis

I work at a hospital, and one day I got a script for a dewormer with a ridiculously high dose. Higher than I had ever seen before. I thought for sure it was a mistake, so I called the doctor just to be sure.

He said that it was no mistake, and then told me what was up. I must say, this is the most disturbing thing I can remember in recent history.

It turned out the patient was someone with Cysticercosis, which is a tapeworm infection. While this isn’t that unusual, what was unusual was the location.

The tapeworm infection was in her brain. The doctor and I both agreed there was very little chance of it working, but he said there were absolutely no other alternatives.


2. I Feel So Bad For Them

I’m in veterinary medicine, and kids are what get me the most. Don’t get me wrong, adults can be big babies too, but I guess I just feel terrible for the kids because I got to keep all my beloved childhood pets until I was at least well into my teens.

The worst one was when I was a receptionist. We had a puppy with a parvo infection dropped off that was already in bad shape. In addition, the family was dirt poor.

It was a cute little lemon beagle. When the owner came in to pick the dog up and heard that even with the best, most expensive supportive care, this puppy might not make it, she opted to just take him home for the short time he had left.

There was a little four or five-year-old girl waiting in the waiting room, and when mom came out with the beagle, she lit up, and ran over, smiling.

She thought the puppy was okay and she’d have it for a long time. The look that went over the mom’s face absolutely destroyed me. Horrible.


3. That Wasn’t Coffee

One time, in the Intensive Care Unit, a patient was coughing up loads of sputum and, between changing the apparatus to catch it, the nurses caught some of it in the only thing they had handy: a Styrofoam cup.

After a few moments, when the craziness was over and everyone went back to their day. One nurse, mistaking the cup of sputum for a cup of coffee, took a drink.


4. Blood Everywhere

A patient came in one day with a dire sore throat. Midway through the examination the patient started violently gagging, opened his mouth, and vomited what seemed like every single pint of blood out of his body.

It turns out that the patient had a condition in which the esophagus rubs against the nearby artery, and, if left unchecked, the membrane will fuse together opening a direct link between mouth and heart.


5. That Poor Lady

I’m a medical student, and the most distressing thing I’ve seen is a lady who had multiple strokes within days. These strokes left her with many neurological deficits.

She had the classic hemiplegic stroke leaving her unable to move her entire right side. She had lost all sensation in her arm as well. The lady was also in constant pain.

The worst part is she then had another stroke which made her lose her voice. She couldn’t even tell anyone for two days that she was in so much pain.


6. Vomiting On His Own Brain

A man got in a freak accident driving a convertible. The top of his skull got completely cut off, exposing his somehow unharmed brain.

When he arrived unconscious at the hospital, he was being treated by a mass of nurses and/or doctors. As he was lying on his back on the operation table, he started throwing up.

Now, I’m sure all of you know how gravity works, but I’ll explain what happened just in case. He was lying on his back: face up.

His brain was exposed. He started throwing up. The vomit traveled in trajectory landing on his brain. In short, he was vomiting on his own brain.


7. He Was Lucky

I worked at a hospital for a few years. One night there was a five-year-old kid who came into the emergency room who had apparently been playing with one of those yard marker flags.

Well he was running and tripped, and the metal pin went into his mouth and punctured all the way through the back of his throat and out the back side of his neck.

When the kid came in, we had to literally tie his hand together, so he wouldn’t move the wire and possibly cause nerve damage. We ran all the tests and realized that this little kid was so lucky.

You see, he had narrowly missed his spinal column. Basically, this meant that we were able to sedate him and just pull the wire out.


8. A Nasty Parasite Infection

This story is creepy: about a dude, I saw on neurology when I was an intern. He was from Southeast Asia with altered mental status and abdominal pain, and altered liver function tests.

The pictures of his belly on plain films, CT scan, and MRI showed a mass, but the mass kept looking blurry and like it was changing shape and size.

We sent him for an ultrasound, and the tech nearly had a heart attack because the “tumor” was moving. Turns out the guy had picked up some nasty parasite on his last trip back to visit the family.

We finally saw the 8 cm (3 in) worm moving and swimming around inside its little ball of goo on the recording of the exam. The whole team almost blew chunks that morning.


9. A Chicken Leg Inside Vagina

A woman came into the emergency room with complaints of abdominal pain. She wouldn’t stop screaming: “My baby’s gone! My baby’s gone!”

There was one really weird thing, though: her record showed absolutely nothing about even being pregnant. After having her change into a gown, the most ungodly stench filled the room.

My doctor began a pelvic exam with me as a standby. I will never forget his face as he removed a pinkish-brown clotted mass: it was a huge chicken leg.

It turns out that what she was calling her ‘baby’ was actually an uncooked chicken she had chopped up and inserted into her hoo-ha. She may not have lost a baby, but she did gain a chicken.


10. The Homeless Guy

So there is a homeless guy that comes to my emergency room regularly. Apparently, this guy had a major surgery in the last 10 years where they removed something from his stomach or that general area.

After the surgery, he woke up and just left the hospital without letting himself heal. He proceeded with his drug habit, and his body was never able to heal properly.

The guy comes to the ER about once every week to get his intestines re-bandaged. The nurses have to rinse and sanitize the intestines and re-bandage him up every time he comes in.

They simply take a large bandage and wrap it around his midsection. He has been seen many times outside the hospital holding his intestines with a plastic bag pressed to his stomach—having a smoke.


11. A Sailfish

I was working at an emergency room in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. This is a resort area with pristine white beaches, and sport fishing—you know the drill.

I was taking a body down to the morgue with another medic, and the shift supervisor, who had the drawer assignment and paperwork responsibility.

We pulled open the huge metal drawer, expecting there to be nothing—or maybe a body—and saw something that made our very jaded jaws drop.

Inside the drawer, there was a monstrously large sailfish. This thing was so huge that it could hardly fit without its body curved and sail pushed down.

We stood there in surprise, wondering what our procedure should be. We had no idea. The NCO said, “It would be a very good idea not to remember this. I’ll deal with it in the morning.” He then moved on to the next drawer.

Later it was rumored it belonged to one of the senior surgeons.


12. Not The Toenail…

I worked in the kitchen, so I was the lowly peon delivering food trays. I delivered to one guy who had a horrendously infected foot.

Most of the toes were necrotic and black, and the rest of the foot wasn’t doing much better. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was waiting for an amputation. His dietary requirements were diabetic, so it was likely. The room smelled awful.

Anyway, these rooms are small, with typically two beds in them. Because of the smell from his infection, the other bed is empty.

I still have to squeeze by the foot of his bed, and as I’m paying attention to the tray, so I don’t knock it into equipment, I accidentally brush my leg against his infected foot that he has sticking out of the covers and hanging off the bed.

To my horror, his big toenail—with bonus flesh—comes off onto my leg. It’s just stuck to my leg. We look at each other in horror. I clear my throat, ask my usual questions, clear and adjust his table, give him his tray and wish him a good day.

I leave calmly, and then run to the nurse’s station and ask for help getting this dude’s entire necrotic toenail off my leg.

The nurse who got it off soaked that portion of my pant leg in some disinfectant liquid that smelled like it could take the paint off a car.


13. It Was Disgusting

Guy came in with severe abdominal pain; turned out he had painful hemorrhoids, which had led to him being too scared to take a dump for 1 MONTH.

He couldn’t tolerate any of the normal treatment (laxatives and enemas), so he ended up being taken to theatre, where I, the most junior member of the on-call surgical team, had to claw out this monstrosity of a turd with my fingers.

It was this dense mass about 4-5 inches wide that felt like hardened clay and smelled exactly how you might expect a ball of poop that’s been brewing for a month to smell like.

Took a good half hour before I managed to clean him out, all while the nurses tried to stand as far away as possible and my seniors pissed themselves laughing at my horrified expressions.


14. Hospital Mystery

I used to be a nurse’s aid. I once had to put a very obese woman on the bedpan (she was only mid 40’s), and I left. She put her call light on, and when I answered she said she was all done.

I turn her on her side to remove the bedpan, only to see that it is empty. My first thought was that she had been mistaken about having pooped.

But then I look and realize that her ass cheeks were so massive her entire dump couldn’t make it the length of her cheeks and had gotten wedged in between them.

I had to dig the entire load out of her ass by hand. It was only about two months into the job, and it gave me some serious second thoughts haha.


15. Like A Wet Balloon

Autopsy tech/death investigator.

A morbidly obese man had died in a cheap motel room with the heat cranked up and wasn’t found for several days.

By the time we got him to the morgue, he was horribly bloated from decomp gas and was purple and green all over. There was lots of skin slip.

Our forensic pathologist went to make the initial Y incision, and the force of the escaping gas blew gore all over us and the ceiling while making a sound like a wet balloon with the air being pinched out.

We all paused for a moment as the worst stank I have ever smelled enveloped the room like something that had crawled out of Satan’s anus. Then we burst out laughing because it was all we really could do.

It didn’t help that he was leaking liquified fat all over the floor. My boots have never been the same since.


16. Poop In Her Hands

I’m a nursing student. We just finished our first clinical placement at a nursing home. Not me, but my friend did something ridiculously funny.

She was dressing a man, and while pulling his pants up/down (not sure), he started to do a really big poo. So she put her hand out under his bum and caught it.

The other nurse starts laughing her head off at my friend standing there with a huge poo in her hand. She asked her why she didn’t just let it fall to the floor, and all she could say was “I panicked”.


17. After A Boiler Explosion

I saw a man just after he was burned in a boiler explosion. His skin hung in strips off of his body, as if it had slipped off (like how easily the skin of a tomato slips off after it is boiled).

Underneath was glistening pink/red flesh. The room smelled of cooked flesh and mechanical grease. The poor man was aware and moaned/screamed in pain. It was terrible.


18. Watching Your Baby Die

I was assisting in a crash C-section once. The mother was eclamptic (sky-high blood pressure), and the only cure was to deliver the baby. But she was only 25 weeks.

It was so fast that there was no time to get an epidural, so we had to put her under general anesthesia. The baby had a strong and healthy heartbeat, but of course, once you deliver at 25 weeks, that doesn’t matter.

The father sat in recovery beside his wife’s stretcher, holding their dying baby. The whole time tears and tears just running down his face. He never said anything. He just sat, without talking, holding a tiny bundle of blankets, looking down at a perfectly formed tiny face struggling to breathe. The mother was still sedated, but when I walked in, the father had the bundle in one arm and was holding the hand of the mother with his other hand. He was humming a lullaby.

He just held and held the baby until he died in his arms. Never saying a word. Just rocking it back and forth, humming to him. Crying the whole time.


19. A Drug Addict Killed My Friend

I was doing my residency at the cook county hospital in Chicago about 25 years ago. My friend and I had a short break in between surgeries, and he went to the bathroom.

I headed down the hallway to get a snack. After I got some chips, I went back and waited outside the bathroom for him. I waited 10 minutes and then went in.

I found my friend’s body on the floor with a large knife buried in his throat. A drug addict came into the bathroom and killed my friend to take his prescription pad to get more drugs.



20. Sitting On A Couch For An Entire Month

My dad’s been a volunteer EMT/Fireman for as long as I can remember, and generally, the worst stories I’ve ever heard have come from him.

One that comes to mind right now deals with a lady, not unlike the ones who have been mentioned in a lot of these other stories. She was highly obese and apparently had gone for a sit down on her couch.

That was a month before the call to head out to her residence was put in. When pop and the crew arrived, this lady was still on her couch. This woman had not moved from that spot for an entire month.

For anything. She was GLUED to her couch with a mixture of feces, urine, and her own skin. They had to cut the fabric around her because both were so embedded with each other. And she was ANGRY that they had to cut her couch.


21. The Devil Was In His Balls

This comes from my friend’s mother: She was working in the emergency room one night when a homeless man walks in, muttering, “The devil’s in my balls. Devil’s in my balls.”

She takes him in and says, “Calm down, sir, we’ll have a look.” Sure enough, his balls are quite swollen. She palpates them, and they tear open, revealing a mass of MAGGOTS.


22. A Cockroach Inside Her Vagina

My aunt was telling a story about what happened at her job. She worked as a nurse at an OB clinic. She told me that a woman came in with complaints of pain in her vaginal area.

The doctor went ahead and did an examination. She said the doctor came out of the room with the most disgusted look on his face.

He then explained to my aunt and co-workers that when he started his examination, it smelled disgusting, and then out came a live, huge cockroach that had been living in her for some time.


23. Shot In The Head

When I was in trauma surgery in upstate by, got a notification about a man who was shot 3 times in the head.

He comes in, literally one eye hanging out of the socket, blood everywhere, and he’s slumped forward.

Apparently, he was shot in the temple, exited out his right eye socket, in the nose exited from the roof of the mouth, and In the cheek one with exit from the side of the head.

At this point, I’m thinking they just brought him in so we can pronounce him in the ER because he looked dead. I go to examine him and tilt his head back, and he says ‘Yoooo be gentle!’ I jump back and scream like a little boy, as did everyone in the room. Literally, the bullets missed his brain in every single shot.


24. “Don’t let me go back there!”

When my mom worked as an E.R. nurse, a guy came in from a car accident and was losing blood. In the midst of resuscitation, the man jolts awake and screams, ‘Don’t let me go back there! Please, please, please don’t let me go back!’ A few seconds later, they lost him.


25. Strange Visitors

I work a stroke/telemetry floor on the bought shift. Most of our patients are elderly. Apparently, there are two things that patients see before they pass away.

Some will say that two men are walking in their rooms and telling them to get ready to leave. The patient will call and tell us that these men are big and abrasive in their demeanor.

They are either terrified or annoyed when they see the two men. The other thing they will see is a little boy who will go into their rooms and try to wake them up. The boy is usually loud and runs around their rooms.

The patients will call and ask who’s letting children just run around late at night. Several nights or even that same shift, we’re coding or cleaning the patient for the funeral home to pick up.


26. Slippery Body

Motorcycle driver, accident, third-degree burns, arrived DOA. Had to transfer him from the ambulance gurney to ER bed.

As we were moving him with a transfer sheet, the liquefied/cooked subcutaneous fat caused the charred skin on his back to separate, and his body slipped onto the floor (despite several of us trying to ‘catch’ him).


27. “I Hope That Nice Man On The Floor Is Ok”

The call was for an older woman lying in bed. When we get there, the smell is horrendous of a dead body.

There are millions of flies everywhere, and a little old lady is lying in the bed, alive. About five feet away, there is a body covered up by a sheet.

The lady was a dementia patient, and her husband (the deceased) was the primary caregiver. Based on the number of flies and state of decomposition, the police estimated the guy had been dead for about three weeks.

The woman must have been getting some food out of the refrigerator, but it was totally empty by the time we arrived.

The creepiest part happened on the way to the hospital with the woman, she said, ‘I hope that nice man on the floor is OK.’


28. Straight Out Of A Horror Movie

I used to work as an STNA in a nursing home. Worked third shift throughout the university. During the night, we turned half the lights off, so it was darker in the evening, and didn’t get a lot of light in the residents’ rooms.

We had one resident who was younger (70s) and was mostly in for mental reasons. She had long, dark hair and was very thin.

I was sitting at the nurse’s station at the top of the hall and heard a call light go off. I stood up, looked down the dark hall, and on all fours—straight out of The Ring—this resident was crawling up the hall toward me. The other STNA had forgotten to put the bed rail up, and the resident was VERY good at climbing out of bed.

Needless to say, I needed some new britches, and my heart was racing a mile a minute.


29. Monsters

I was still a nursing student at the time, but this was from when I had my psychiatric clinical placement in my 3rd year.

I was assigned to a young male patient with schizophrenia. He had been a voluntary admission because he heard voices telling him to hurt people around him, and he admitted himself because he was afraid of actually going through with it.

Anyway, I went into the room alone, as usual, and did the usual introduction and asking how he was doing. He was at a desk drawing creepy, hideous monsters—each monster had its own page, and there had to be at least half a dozen of these pages scattered around him.

I asked him what they were. He answered that those were the monsters he saw. They were the monsters that whispered to him and told him to hurt people and do awful things. Guarded, I asked him, ‘Are they telling you to hurt me?’

He answered, ‘Yes.’I didn’t stay very long in that room.


30. The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Seen

I responded to a call where a janitor was dusting quite a large stone cross in the middle of a church. He had been up on a ladder cleaning when he slipped off and proceeded to try to hold onto the cross to keep from falling.

Unfortunately, the weight of the 200-pound man was too much to support. The cross fell towards him, landing on his left arm, with a part of the horizontal stone of the cross, pushing his muscles and tendons out of his wrist like a squeezed toothpaste tube.

Then the cross fell completely on him splattering his brain across the floor. Quite disturbing, and definitely the most horrific and gore filled call I had ever witnessed.


31. “Bill Is Here”

“I’m an RN, and while I was a student, I was caring for a lady who had an end-stage renal failure, had a DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation), and was shutting down.

We were having a little chat when she stopped, looked over my shoulder, and said, ‘Bill’s here, love, I’ve got to go,’ and swiftly stopped breathing. Read her old notes, and Bill was her deceased husband.”


32. Dead Man Moaning

Worked security through college at a local hospital. The only ‘creepy’ thing I remember is when a dead man moaned. One of my duties was to help wheel patients who had expired down to the in-house morgue.

Once, we were wheeling an older man from the ER down, and halfway down the hallway, he let out this low moan. I started to panic, thinking that he was coming back to life, but the RN explained to me (newbie) that sometimes the air in the lungs doesn’t come out until sometime later or is delayed for a bit


33. She Ripped Her Wrists To Pieves

This woman was clearly struggling mentally. She went into her basement and started sawing at her wrists horizontally with a rusty hacksaw, bleeds a good amount, and then starts walking around the house.

She wasn’t dying quick enough, so she sat down in a chair in the middle of the living room and started going at her wrists again, this time with a pair of scissors.

I was the second person inside the house. It looked like a massacre. We searched the house top to bottom, fully expecting to find multiple dead bodies in there. I’ve never seen so much blood in my life. Every single room had a trail of blood in it.

The woman was found on a chair in the living room. Rigor mortis had contorted her body into a really strange, unnatural pose, and her face was haunting. Literally the stuff of nightmares.

Her wrists had huge chunks of skin/veins/muscle missing from them. Saying she slit her wrists is inaccurate. She ripped them to pieces.


34. Holding Hands

I’ve had a couple of weird calls. One was a major MVA-head on many, many years ago when we played M.E. as well.

We had 2 DOA (husband and spouse) that were killed instantly in a head-on collision. They had a 12-year-old daughter that was in between them, and they actually took the impact, saving her life.

While en route, we noticed the husband’s arm had come loose, so I went back to re-strap it. As I was doing that, the wife’s arm suddenly fell out as well, and her hand fell into her husband’s. My boss was watching in the rearview mirror and helped clear the way as I ran back into the front.

It spooked both of us. Apparently, the couple (mid 30’s) had just found out he was cancer free after his last treatment.


35. Lonely

One call that will always haunt me was on an unresponsive female at around three in the morning. We get there and do some pointless CPR along with the fire department…

She had been dead for a while; no shockable rhythm and clear rigor mortis. The most disturbing part was that the original caller was her 11-year-old daughter, who had just spent three days with her mother’s corpse and called 9-1-1 because she was ‘lonely.’ It also didn’t help that the victim was completely naked when we arrived.


36. Eyeless

I used to do home care for an elderly lady with learning disabilities and no eyes (they were removed due to a congenital condition).

She was lovely but prone to wandering around her flat at night in total silence, which led to several horrifying situations where I left my room at 2 am only to encounter her standing silently in the hallway, turning her eyeless face towards me.


37. Blood Everywhere

One of the aides I work with said she was doing postmortem care on a patient who had been on many, many anticoagulants before death.

She said when they turned her on her side, she started bleeding out of every orifice—eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. She said her and the nurse went home and had nightmares for a week.


38. Dead For The Second Time

When I was a student, I got called in on a stroke patient. She had coded, and they were doing CPR. They worked for 45 minutes, but she died.

They cleaned her up and called on the family to say goodbye, but by that time the family left. She had been both brain-dead and without a pulse for more than 45 minutes.

Blood had filled her brain, and she was completely grey and started to smell. Suddenly, she sat up and called for her family. The nurses rushed to get monitors and equipment back on her. They started working on her again, she stabilized, said goodbye to her family, and promptly died a second time


39. At Least The Baby Is Alive

When I was on an ER rotation during med school, we got a call about a 23-year-old woman who was shot in the head, and who was already completely gone, but was reportedly five months pregnant, so they were doing CPR until they got her to the hospital to see if the baby was viable.

They got her to the ER and did an ultrasound and turned out the baby was full-term, so they did a C-section in like under a minute and got the baby out.

I don’t think it’s so incredibly uncommon but it was pretty surreal to see a baby delivered from a dead person with their brain exposed and she was pretty close to the same age I was at the time.


40. Battery Inside Nose

The mother of a toddler came into emergency. The kid had cruddy stuff coming out of his left nostril, and a lot of redness and swelling of only the left side of his nose and the adjacent cheek.

Mom was sure he caught a sinus infection and just wanted some antibiotics. Now, I know some kids like shoving whatever will fit into their bodily orifices and that this was more than likely given the one-sided nature of his condition.

But Mom was insistent that he NEVER puts things in his nose. It took some convincing, but I finally got her to let me take a look.

Gave a squirt of midazolam in the good nostril to settle him, then dug with some tweezers through the crud until I pulled out a big ole button battery—like the kind they use in watches. It would’ve been burning his nose for a couple of days. Hopefully, he healed up well.


41. Stubborn Daughter

An 80-year-old patient was declining with multiple diagnoses and three bedsores. The daughter was adamant that her father was kept on his strict “paleo” diet because that would “supercharge” his healing.

She had a stack of diet books. He simply wasn’t getting enough nutrition to heal the ulcers. He didn’t like the diet at all.

At some point, you kind of have to stop being polite and just tell patients/ family members bluntly that you don’t have time for this and what you recommend, and they can do what they want and just document everything. It happens a lot, but she sticks out.


42. Sneaky Family

I had a patient who was a young child. She came in with an extremely high blood glucose level. Once she was stable we did some teaching and kept her for a few days for observation.

For some reason, every time I checked her, her levels would be extremely high, although we were appropriately treating her. Turns out her family would bring her fast food for every meal and hide it in the side table.


43. He Did It Twice

I once had a child who swallowed a sizeable magnet that passed to the intestine, and we were just waiting for it to pass in stool.

The next day, when he came for follow up, we just found out that he swallowed another one that got stuck to the first magnet in the intestine through the stomach wall resulting in intestinal obstruction, and he was transferred to the OR immediately to have them surgically removed.


44. A Victim Of Munchausen By Proxy

When I was an intern, we had a 22-year-old man with persistent abdominal pain. His symptoms were unexplained as all studies turned up negative.

His mother was constantly at his bedside and detailed her son’s medical history, which included multiple hospital stays with no definitive diagnosis. I noticed that he would frequently take ill after meals, which his mother brought from outside the hospital.

It eventually became clear that he was a victim of Munchausen by proxy. His mother was purposely making him ill. I had a patient with Munchausen’s when I was in medical school (she was injecting her own feces into her IV), so I was particularly tuned in. Both cases were very sad.


45. Alternative Medicine

A patient comes to the surgery clinic with complaints of a mass in his rectum. I wasn’t there the first time he came. The surgeon wanted to do a couple of investigations and advised him to get admitted.

The guy decided he doesn’t want to. A couple of months later, he comes back to the clinic. Apparently, he went to one of these alternative medicine places or whatever, and they had tied this metal wire—not exactly sure why—around the mass.

By then, this mass had eroded through it, was bleeding, and had gotten much bigger. It turned out to be a cancerous growth.


46. Don’t Be Your Own Dentist

I had a patient who came in with a toothache on his front tooth. He had used a power drill and attempted to perform a root canal on himself. Suffice to say, it had failed to achieve the desired result.


47. Somehow He Was Still Conscious

When I was a paramedic, I transported a patient to the ER who put a shotgun under his jaw and pulled the trigger, blew the right side of his face off.

Gray matter was showing, you could see the remains of his eye socket. Heck of a thing, he was still conscious. We got him to the ER and a couple of the trauma nurses vomited at the sight.

Usually, people injured that severely die on the scene and never make it to the ER. Seeing this poor guy was more than a couple of them could handle.


48. A Cooked Person

I’d say one of my worst experiences was with an elderly woman who got horrible burns over most of her body after her oxygen tank exploded.

She made the grave mistake of lighting a cigarette while hooked up to the tank. Never thought I’d know what cooked person smelled like.


49. That’s Not How It Works

I had a patient come in for an STD check. She was very upset and continued to tell me that she only had one partner.

Progressing through my assessment, she further divulged that even if he was sleeping with other people, it shouldn’t matter, “Because he uses a condom every time and he makes sure to wash it thoroughly after every use.”

I asked what she meant when she said he washes it after every use. She explained that he washed the condom with hot water and soap before he used said condom again.


50. Don’t Drive With Tweezers On Your Lap

Back when I still did x-rays, I had a girl who was driving with a pair of metal tweezers resting on her leg. Unfortunately, she got into an accident, and all of sudden the tweezers went from being on her leg to in her leg.

The crazy thing is that she didn’t even realize they were in there until I brought it up. Then she started yelling at her boyfriend for no reason, like it was his fault.


51. Flea Treatment

I got this from my friend, who is a doctor on the children’s ward in a rural hospital. These parents bring in their child, whose hair is infested with lice.

The lice were visible to the naked eye and could be seen crawling on the child’s clothing. While the medical staff examined the kid in order to determine a course of action, they discovered the child was covered in a white powder and smelled heavily of chemicals.

They asked the parents what the substances and the smells emanating from the child were. The parents said, quite matter of factly, it was Sevin powder (a garden insecticide) and flea and tick spray they used on their dogs on the family’s farm.

Needless to say, social workers were notified about this case.


52. Not The Smartest Idea

I had a fella come into the ER who was stone sober, but only because he had spilled all of his rubbing alcohol onto his pants, which meant he couldn’t drink it.

The reason why he was in the ER if the first place was because he tried to burn the alcohol off of his jeans by lighting the alcohol on fire, thinking the alcohol would burn and not his pants.

He had some pretty rowdy burns from the calves down because he couldn’t get his pants off of his shoes. To be honest, pretty nice guy… absolutely the kind you’d expect to light themselves on fire, but he was very pleasant considering the circumstances.


53. Birth Control Problems

One day in the pharmacy, a girl comes to the counter requesting a refill for her birth control. We pulled up her profile and realized we couldn’t refill it because she just got a 28-day fill less than two weeks ago.

When we asked what happened to the pack she’d been given, she said she was out. Apparently, both she and her boyfriend were each taking a pill each and was adamant that was how they needed to prevent pregnancy.


54. Testosterone Treatment Gone Wrong

A good friend is doing residency at a pediatrician’s office that had a six-month-old girl brought in because she had started growing pubic hair. A nurse took note of the fact that the father was in his 60s and had enough insight to ask if he was taking testosterone treatments.

Turned out that during “skin to skin” time he would lay his daughter on his chest, in the same spot he had applied his testosterone gel earlier in the day.


55. Just Keep Moving Back And Forth

Not a doctor, but my human sexuality professor in grad school had some interesting stories. He worked a lot in very conservative Christian communities, and so a lot of times people got married with no education.

He had one couple who couldn’t get pregnant. Turns out they thought sleeping together literally meant sleeping in the same bed.

Another couple was in therapy because neither one of them enjoyed intercourse. After having them talk through step by step what they did in bed, he learned the guy was just sticking it in and nothing else.

He told the guy to move back and forth next time and see what happened. The couple came back one more time to say “THANK YOU!!!!!” and didn’t need any more sessions.


56. Her Intestines Were Sticking Out

Heard this from an emergency doctor friend of mine a while ago. A female patient comes in complaining of severe abdominal pain. Nurses take vitals, ask questions, etc. Eventually, my friend sees her, and, after a few questions, he has her lift her shirt.

The “severe abdominal pain” on the chart was, in fact, due to a gash so severe that part of her intestines were sticking out of her. No one had noticed, and she hadn’t thought to mention that her organs had started leaking out. In fact, she seemed just as surprised as he was.


57. Absolutely Devastating

My brother is a surgeon, and during part of his residency, he had to work in the pediatric unit. He was working with two newborns. One was getting much better and fighting for life.

He was going to make it just fine. The other baby was hours from death. He wasn’t going to make it. My brother was in charge of informing the families.

My brother realized about 15 minutes later that he had mixed up the families. He told the family with the healthy baby that their baby wasn’t going to make it, and he told the family with the dying baby that their baby was going to be just fine. He then had to go back out to the families and explain the situation to them.

How devastating. To be given a glimmer of hope and have it ripped away from you not even an hour later. He felt destroyed.


58. I Almost Killed A Baby

I very nearly injected a premature baby that had Down Syndrome with ten times the amount of Lasix I was supposed to give him: I had put the decimal in the wrong place when I did the math on the dose.

That baby would almost certainly have died if I’d given it to him. I had the liquid drawn up in the syringe and had the syringe actually in the port, ready to push through, before I looked inside the chamber and realised how uncharacteristically full it seemed.

Paediatric IV doses of anything are simply tiny. I was supposed to give him 0.1 mls, and nearly gave him 1.0mls. I needed a very large cup of tea after that.


59. That Wasn’t A Scratch

I’m a nurse, but I was working in the ER when a guy came in for a scratch on his neck and “feeling drowsy.” We start the usual workups and this dude’s blood pressure TANKED.

We scrambled, but he was dead within ten minutes of walking through the door. Turns out the “scratch” was an exit wound of a .22 caliber rifle round.

The guy didn’t even know he’d been shot. When the coroner’s report came back, we found that he’d been shot in the leg and the bullet tracked through his torso shredding everything in between.

There was really nothing we could’ve done, but that was a serious “what the heck just happened” moment.


60. Not Smart At All

There was a 24-year-old patient who was brought in from a jail in a rural county. He was working roadside cleanup when he found a bottle in a ditch that he thought contained alcohol, and he quickly chugged it down.

To be fair, it did look like whiskey. It wasn’t. It turns out it was a substance that contained sulfuric acid. Its pH was less than 2.5…it just ate up the litmus paper. So shortly after he gets to the ICU he is in excruciating pain and.

The gastroenterologist took him to do an EGD (basically a procedure where they can look at the esophagus, stomach and duodenum with a camera attached to a flexible tube) and the pictures were horrendous.

You could literally see his stomach and esophageal mucosa eroding away. He had to be sent off to another hospital where they had an esophageal surgeon who could repair the mess.

He, of course, needed multiple surgeries and had a very long hospital stay. I saw him a few months later when he was admitted for another issue. He was down to 90 lbs. from about 150 and was getting fed through a PEG tube. He was very lucky to be young and otherwise healthy—but obviously not very smart at all.


61. She Went With The “Natural” Treatment

I was a unit secretary and nurse aide on a radiation oncology unit in the early 2000s. We had a patient show up through the ER who was admitted for emergency radiation treatment.

She had a fungating mass in her mouth that had consumed half her head. When the doctor tried to examine her and open her mouth, her remaining teeth fell out into his hand.

It had eaten through the bones of her face, invaded her eye socket, everything. Doc said it was the worst case of mouth cancer he’d seen. According to her husband, she had a small lesion on her hard palate (the top of her mouth).

Upon receiving the diagnosis of an early-stage squamous cell carcinoma, she decided to treat it with essential oils and things like frankincense because chemo was poison.

Her husband said he had tried to reason with her, but she was adamant about the “natural” treatment. She died in agony shortly after.


62. This Was Heartbreaking

I think the most frustrating I’ve seen since I was a resident was a very pretty (like stunningly pretty) 17-year-old with what appeared to be normal, loving, affluent parents. She had a tumor in her pelvis (rhabdomyosarcoma), and we could expect to potentially cure her.

The parents declined, also declined chemo, and said they want to try holistic medicine because that made more sense to them.

I last saw her 3 years ago, she was getting huge lymph nodes removed from her groin because they were unsightly. Obviously, metastatic disease. The parents did not want the primary tumor removed and again declined chemo.

I see 100 patients/week probably, lots of devastatingly sad cases. But I still think about that girl, listening to her parents, costing her life. I bet she’s dead now.


63. She Was An Optemist

Lady had a broken jaw. She comes in after 2 weeks with an open mandible fracture. Referred her to the hospital for immediate surgery. She never went because it, “doesn’t bother her and she’ll see if it gets better.”


64. Accidental Deaths

As an ICU nurse, I’ve seen the decisions of some doctors result in death. Families oftentimes don’t know, but it happens more than you’d think.

It usually happens on very sick patients that ultimately would have died within six months or so anyway, though. Procedurally wise, I have seen a physician kill a patient by puncturing their heart while placing a pleural chest tube.

It was basically a freak thing as, apparently, the patient had recently had cardiothoracic surgery, and the heart adhered within the cavity at an odd position.

I’ll never forget the look on his face when he came to the realization of what had happened. You rarely see people accidentally kill someone in such a direct way. Heartbreaking.


65. Ouch!

This happened when I was a student nurse, and I got the story from one of the physiotherapists there at the time. A guy with a dislocated hip came into the emergency room at the hospital where I was completing my training.

So with the whole team and a number of med and physio students, they went to put his hip back into place.

They’ve done this, and then the guy just started screaming in absolute anguish and pain and continued to scream and scream till his voice box gave up, and he just screamed silently until he passed out from the pain.

Doctors found on closer examination that one of the patient’s testicles somehow got in the way and ended up being squashed like a pancake.


66. “There’s Only Nine”

Fun story, while my wife was having her c-section for our daughter, she overheard one of the nurses say, “there’s only nine,” and my wife thought they were talking about my daughter’s fingers or toes.

So she’s freaking out that our daughter is missing a finger or toe, and I keep assuring her that our daughter was perfect, which she was.

We found out about ten minutes later that the nurse was talking about the surgical tools that were supposed to be accounted for, and one of them was missing.

So my wife got to spend the next two hours in x-ray because they thought they had left a tool inside her and stitched her up. They found the missing tool, not inside my wife, a couple hours later, so that was a relief.


67. How Does One Not Know?

Ob-Gyn doctor here, 40 years experience. About once a year would take care of someone in full blown labor, full term, who did not know she was pregnant.

Very hard to wrap my head around, I guess the denial power of the mind is substantial.


68. All Because He Made Her “Mad”

I’m a medical student, but I have seen two cases that I don’t think I’ll see again. First was a woman with Frey’s syndrome. Basically, every time she chewed, a small area on her cheek (right in front of her ear) would start sweating a lot and get red.

The other one was a middle-aged man who got stabbed by his wife. It was actually the second time that he had come to the ER for being stabbed by his wife, and apparently, his son had stabbed him once before too.

He defended his wife by saying, “I made her mad,” and refused to take legal action against her.


69. Not Your Boyfriend’s Fault

I’m a dental hygienist, and once was telling a patient after a cleaning that she had gingivitis. She replies with, “I must have caught it from my boyfriend.” Had to explain to her that it’s because she doesn’t brush/floss enough. She was 36.


70. He Got A Hard Nugget

Paramedic here. I ran a call on a guy that was ejected out of a late-‘80s Mustang. The guy said the car rolled two times before pitching him out of the driver’s side window.

He said he landed on his head, and the 7-inch scalp avulsion seemed to corroborate his story. The car was completely crushed and sitting on its top.

The guy wanted to refuse treatment and transport. 15 on the GCS (Glasgow Coma Scale) but he never lost consciousness. I insisted, though, that he be seen at the ER. He rode the whole way texting people. When I told him that he shouldn’t be alive, he said, “Yeah, I got a hard nugget.”


71. He Made A Confession

A patient of my dad’s (a dermatologist) had a visit from a city councilman who presented with a large brown growth on the tip of his penis.

He started by confessing, “I haven’t exactly been faithful to my wife recently.” After a close-up inspection, my dad asked him, “Have you done any camping recently, Ted?”

He replied, “Why yes, I took the boys to Arkansas two weeks ago. How did you know?” “Because,” my dad replied, “you have the largest wood tick on your penis I’ve ever seen.”


72. She Wasn’t Joking

Lady walks into the office. The smell of cigarette smoke is so strong on her that I start coughing. Her dry, leathery skin cracks while she talks from years of sun abuse. She tells me, “I’ve stopped using sunscreen because I researched that it causes cancer.”


73. Rat Bite Fever

When I was on pediatric infectious disease, we had a young girl come in with a rash on the bottom of her feet. She was also having headaches and joint pains. We spent close to an hour interviewing the girl and the mother.

Her history didn’t reveal much. Finally, as a last-ditch effort, I pulled out the weird questions you ask in med school. I asked if they had any unusual pets, as we had already ruled out normal pets.

They said actually they did just return a pet rat for biting her. They thought that this wasn’t really relevant. Bam! It was rat bite fever!


74. Poop In A Box

Patient made an appointment and brought in his poop in a box. He was concerned about the size of his turd, and if it’s normal. All he got from the visit was, “Normal turd. Yes, it’s pretty wide.”

Turd box was set out with biohazard waste. The waste guy thought it was a misplaced package and put it on the front desk. Secretary got quite the surprise that day.


75. DIY Surgery

A male patient injected kitchen oil into his own cheeks because he saw a plastic surgery TV show where a surgeon injected something similar to a model. He was amazed that the bumps of the oil didn’t go away and were turning red and painful.


76. He Didn’t Believe Me

Not an MD, I’m an RN that works with oncology (cancer) patients, some of which are in clinical trials. I got a patient and, before starting his chemotherapy, reviewed some of his lab work with him.

I told him his glucose level was 73. The normal range is usually between 70-100. He got really upset at this point, so I asked him, “What’s wrong? Your labs are within range!”

And he said, “I need it to be zero.” I said, “What? Why would you want your glucose to be zero?” He said he’s trying to meet requirements for a new clinical trial that requires his glucose to be zero. I told him, “I don’t know what clinical trial you’re trying to get into, but if your blood glucose was zero, you’d be dead or dying.”

He was not convinced because I’m “just a nurse,” so I sent a message to his doctor asking them to educate their patients better.


77. Let It Go

My one patient used to hold in her farts to the point of being in antagonizing pain because she thought that there was a certain amount of air inside a person, and if you let too much out you’ll deflate.


78. Yahoo Searches

I’m not a doctor, but I’m a patient whose mother was negligent. The doctor had to speak to me on the side because of it. My grandmother has Crohn’s disease. Very, very badly. It skipped my mother and her brother. When I was 15 years old, over the course of six months, I went from being 5’9” tall and 190 pounds to being 110 pounds.

I was a skeleton, extremely anemic, and coughing up blood. My mother was CONVINCED it was something else. I forced her to bring me to a doctor, and she spouted off all these possibilities. She then talked about what she Yahooed. Not even Googled. Yahoo.

About genetics and such. And “Crohn’s can’t skip generations.” Well, the doc said, “Just in case. We’re gonna run some tests.” Long story short, I have Crohn’s in my throat and small intestine. So does my cousin. It just skipped a generation.


79. That’s Uvula, Dear

My friend is a student doctor and is on placement at a small-town doctor’s office. She had a 70-ish-year-old woman come in with complaints of a small but painless growth that was visible at the back of her throat. Turns out it took her 70 years to notice her uvula.


80. No Words

My favorite was a 30-something-year-old woman who came in for a check-up at the emergency low-cost clinic I worked at.

Her teeth were broken and almost black, and gums are angry swollen, bright red, and bleeding by just moving her tongue against them, needed multiple scaling/hygienist appointments and a debridement.

Honestly, YouTube has some amazingly disgusting videos of this treatment but maybe keep the sound off if you don’t like the scraping sound. X-ray showed she had all but her wisdom teeth and 10 fillings, root canals to try and save some teeth, and extractions for I think, 3, but more if the root canal didn’t work.

Explained everything and did the usual explanation of proper oral hygiene. Asked her if she had any questions, to which she says, “It’s okay if I lose this set of teeth, my others will come through.” Me and the dentist just looked at each other probably a lot longer than we should have.

No words. I couldn’t think of anything to reply to that comment. I had a lot of weird and disgusting things happen at that clinic. I actually miss working there.


81. A Day To Remember

We had a dude who worked with gunpowder (legitimately, I hasten to add). He decided to cut a few corners in his preparation and the mixture literally exploded as he worked on it.

He went from ten fingers to four in that split second, and instead of forearms, he had two raw gaping holes of mashed tendon and bone. Taking those bandages off was…interesting.


82. Who Are Those People, Though?

I was doing a respiratory system examination on this guy who frequently (about once a month) gets admitted in the general ward with complaints of breathlessness. He’s had COPD for a couple of years. Quite bad.

And he tells me that he isn’t going to quit smoking because God told him not to. When asked why he tells me that the people who are relying on him for their daily livelihood won’t survive if he stopped.

I went on to ask him if he meant the people at the cigarette factory or the health industry. He didn’t get the sarcasm, though.


83. She Was Right

Elderly lady came into my practice asking if there was anything she could be given to help her sleep as the Irish terrorists in the apartment below were keeping her awake at night.

She was reassured that terrorists were not planning to blow her up, or Cannock (a small inconsequential town in the West Midlands) for that matter.

On the second visit, she insisted that they were going to blow something up soon and expressed paranoid thoughts. A full mental health review was conducted by the GP and the community psychiatrist.

She came up clean. That’s when we contacted the police, a couple of days later, the apartment below our patient was raided and found to be full of bomb-making equipment and actual IRA members.


84. Don’t Try This At Home

I’m ashamed to say I have a story that fits here. I have a ganglion cyst (pretty harmless) on the inside of my wrist, when it starts getting large, I smash my wrist down on a hard table and it goes away.

I developed a similar bump on the top of my foot. I couldn’t smash it down like my wrist so I tried hitting it with a hammer.

Didn’t do anything and it was getting bigger and interfering with my shoes so I got it investigated. Not a cyst, but arthritis in the joint. No wonder my hammer trick didn’t work.

The radiologist did find my treatment method amusing, but advised me to get any more lumps checked out rather than randomly hitting things with a hammer.


85. Apparently, We Were The Idiots

Picture a middle-aged man, but his index finger is five times the size of the rest of his fingers. It smells, it’s leaking pus, there’s necrotic tissue. Basically, one huge infected cancerous finger.

He was a firm believer in not taking any sort of medication, including antibiotics or chemo. He died a few weeks later, but he did manage to tell us we were all idiots before he passed away.


86. A Strange Case

I had a guy bouncing around clinics for probably years, if not decades, with nonspecific back pain. It affects millions of patients so the typical thing is, rest, stretch, ice, maybe over the counter meds, and go about your life.

Well when he got to us, he mentioned he never had any imaging. So we do just a regular x-ray of his back.

Sure enough, there’s a small caliber bullet lodged near where the rib meets his spinal column. Apparently, he had been near a drive-by shooting decades ago and was shot, but thought he just cut his back while jumping over something to get cover and never had it checked out.

Never had expected an incident bullet, probably never see one again.


87. Poor Little Kid

I’m a pediatric nurse. I used to work in a children’s hospital in the ER. My worst experience happened when a 2-year-old child was brought in after being found alone in an apartment with his mother’s dead body.

She had overdosed and was found in the bathtub full of water. The child was brought in dehydrated, soaking wet and filthy. The neighbours had called police becuase the child had been crying off and on for 4-5 days. It was determined the mother had died about 5 days before he was found.

The apartment was littered with open, used needles and other drug equipment. I’ll never forget his face. His little hands and feet were white and ice cold. His sleeper was brown with filth and he smelled so horrible that I had to put on double face masks and spray the mask with room deodorizer to avoid vomiting.

Luckily, the little guy was okay and recovered well with hydration and nutrition. I’ve thought of him often over the years since then.


88. They Only Helped After I Yelled At Them

When I was around 20, I had to take my mom to the ER, she’s had a variety of health problems throughout my entire life, some of them quite serious.

I had to take her to the ER because she was having abdominal pain so crippling that she could only stop crying when she passed out. I had to go with her and wait with her because she couldn’t walk by herself and kept passing out.

We sat in the waiting room for 40 minutes, then got sent through triage where all the nurse did was take vitals, then they sat her down in a little plastic chair in the middle of the hallway and left us there for another 45 minutes.

So after about an hour and a half she couldn’t take sitting up anymore and slipped out of the chair and laid down on the floor. Of the hospital. I was trying to get her back up again and listening to/watching nurses and interns walk back and forth by us like we weren’t even there and I just snapped.

I stood up (6’2, 250 lbs, hair and beard like a mountain man, dressed like a school shooter) and yelled at the top of my lungs “WILL SOMEONE GET MY MOTHER A GODDAMN GURNEY?”

Five minutes later she was in her own room with an IV in her arm and a doctor seeing to her, while I was trying to assure two orderlies that I didn’t need to be escorted out of the building and now that my mother was being seen to I was fine.


89. Thank God He Wasn’t Alive

I’m not quite a surgeon but I received some medical training. I was bisecting someone’s leg and I hadn’t realized that the person had a metal rod through their femur.

I’m not a construction worker, so I don’t know why I did what I did…but surgeons must press on. So, I did something that no one in the OR could have predicted.

They all just stared at me with their jaws to the floor. I proceeded to cut through the bone with a metal saw. Sparks were flying everywhere and before long, my blade broke.

Luckily, I was standing off to the side instead of directly behind the blade as it flew backward and hit the wall. The clothes the person had been wearing were lying underneath the body and caught a spark.

My “Oh, God, what have I done?” moment only lasted a second. I was able to douse the person with the water hose before a large fire could start.

Fortunately, the person I was operating on was deceased…or I would have been in big trouble.


90. The Best Magic Trick Ever

I had a guy come into my clinic one day with a complaint of finger swelling. His finger got swollen and painful about a week prior. It just got worse and worse, and about three days before coming, a hole opened up in the tip of his finger.

On the day of the visit, he said, “By the way, I pulled something out of the hole.” The second he said it, my stomach dropped.

“I did it yesterday with a pair of tweezers, no idea what it is.” I asked him if he took a picture or had it, and he produced a tissue from his shirt pocket.

It was his distal phalanx, the last bone in the finger. The bone had gotten infected, did its thing, and his body basically tried to eject what was now a hot foreign body.

The guy pulled his fingertip out of his fingertip. A better magic trick, I have not since seen.


91. “Plain Ignore”

I just left a medical practice partly because a woman brought her eight-month-old in for a second opinion. The owner of the practice had seen the rapidly enlarging sacral soft tissue mass that the mother first noticed about six weeks prior.

He told her not to worry about it. I checked his notes and I was shocked. They just read, “Plan: ignore.”

There was a new rapidly enlarging cystic mass on a baby’s sacrum. Basically, it looked like a small plum under the skin at the top of her bum crack. Without any investigation, my colleague dismissed it.

I was appalled, but the mother was obviously relieved. Of the many not-so-great judgments I’d seen from him, this was one of the worst.

I realized I couldn’t work in a clinic where I’d be stepping on other doctors’ toes whenever I questioned their judgment. The baby had scans done and was eventually referred to a pediatric surgeon, but unfortunately, I don’t know the outcome because I’m working elsewhere now.


92. Difficult Job

Sonographers have to keep a poker face a lot of times when they see something very alarming or sad on the screen. Luckily, most people have no idea what they are looking at, but they’re not allowed to give any results to patients since doctors deliver the bad news.

They simply have to stay neutral. A couple of months ago, I had an ultrasound done and was talking with the sonographer about how happy I was to be having a baby.

I’ve lost many people this year and I needed some good to happen. Then I saw her face, and my blood ran cold. It wasn’t super obvious, but I knew. My baby’s heart wasn’t beating, and I didn’t see any movement.

She pulled away and told me that a doctor would call me that day. It was awful for me. I remember calling my doctor a few times that day because I wanted to know those results right away.

When I finally got it, I broke down. But I still feel really awful for her. She didn’t say much, but I could really see her heartbreak too. Their job is a lot harder than most people would imagine.


93. He Was Always Kind

I worked as a doctor’s office assistant. A regular patient, who was very sweet but unfortunately had an ongoing battle with drinking, was brought in by his roommate, and I knew instantly that he would be gone soon.

I’d seen some jaundiced humans in my time there, but the man was a yellow I never knew could be possible. His roommate said, through tears, “I’ve been telling him to come in for weeks!” The patient kept telling the roommate to relax and that he was fine.

I helped him into the exam room, and when the doctor entered the room, he immediately asked me to go call an ambulance. A few weeks earlier wouldn’t have helped him that much.

He was gone seven days later in the hospital. It had hit me very hard because I’d known the guy for a few years. Sometimes he would be sober when he called, and sometimes he would be slurring and completely incoherent, but he was ALWAYS kind.


94. No Thanks…

I had a 60-year-old female patient show up for a same-day appointment to establish care from out of state. She had no medical records, and she denied having any history of taking medications.

She never smoked, drank, or anything. Midway through the exam, she started telling me that she was seeing “evil lines” all over her house at all hours of the day.

She said that she was unable to cross the lines and was therefore unable to access certain parts of her house like her bathroom. She claimed to hear voices coming through the walls and feel shadows at night.

She also thought her neighbors were hexing her all the time. At some point, she started talking about the occult and freemasons ruling the world.

Then, suddenly, she stopped mid-sentence, stared at me without blinking, and asked if I could perform an exorcism. Err… Sorry. I missed that section in medical school.


95. Balls

I was a student assisting in the operating room when we came across a shocking discovery. A 65-year-old guy with kidney problems (possibly cancerous) needed to have a chunk of his kidney removed. It sounded like no big deal.

We gave him his meds, knocked him out, then prepared to operate. But when we removed his gown, everyone in the room froze.

One of the surgeons actually exclaimed, “Balls!” That was relatively accurate. Apparently, our guy had some muscular disease that caused a massive abdominal hernia, and his intestines were herniating into his scrotum. It was honestly about the size of a deflated basketball.


96. I Respect My Sister So Much

My twin sister is a nurse. She most definitely didn’t learn how to care for her own dying mother in nursing college. Our mother passed from cancer, and we nursed her until the very end at home.

I was very thankful that my sister is a nurse and knew what to do, but the minute my mom passed, my sister could not be in the same room.

She had already seen so much tragedy as a nurse before, but nothing could prepare her for her own mother’s passing. I think my sister questioned her choice of being a nurse after that.

To me, I was seeing my mom finally being released from all the pain she was feeling. For my sister, she knew what was happening below the surface.

She knew how my mom’s lungs were giving in, and that her heart was failing. The thought that she knew that hurt me inside as much as my mom’s passing did. I have a lot of love and respect for my sister.


97. Necrotizing Fasciitis

Sometimes, surgeons are the ones in for an unpleasant surprise. My father is a physician and, although he’s not a surgeon, he did some surgery while in medical school.

He told me a story about a patient he had once who had necrotizing fasciitis—a.k.a. a really nasty flesh-eating disease. I almost wish that he hadn’t told me this story. It’s like something out of The Walking Dead.

The patient had gotten a cut while gardening and never cleaned the wound properly. My dad told us that he had to peel back layers just to get at it.

First, he peeled off the bandages that the patient had self-applied. Then there was a layer of holy book pages that he also had to peel off. Layer upon layer, bandage upon bandage.

Finally, beneath all that, was the wound itself. No amount of med school training could have prepared my father for what he saw. The wound was covered in maggots.

Apparently, they were eating the dead-tissue generated by the disease. He said that once they removed the maggots, they were able to begin the surgery to remove the infected areas.

Oddly enough, this patient had the maggots to thank for keeping his appendages intact. Because the maggots had eaten away the dead and infected flesh, my dad and his team didn’t have to amputate the patient’s limb.

After this operation, though, my dad decided to not pursue surgery and focus on becoming a specialist.


98. Such A Shame

I’m a medical physicist. 12 years ago, I was asked to look at and give advice to a lady who had a very slow-growing tumor on her nose. A Basel cell carcinoma.

It’s usually not much of an issue if caught early. It could be removed with surgery or a short course of radiotherapy, and that’s it. Well, that’s not it. This lady was quite vain.

As soon as the lump had started to grow, she hid it under a scarf. She ended up hiding it for 20 whole years. By the time any medical professional saw it, the tumor had taken over most of her nasal cavity, crushed one eye, deformed her whole face, and grown in between all the nerves and blood vessels. It was absolutely inoperable.

There was very little you could do with radiotherapy without doing a lot of damage to everything else. Such a shame, as it would have been so easy to fix 20 years ago. Please get lumps and random bleeding checked out.


99. She Could Tell

My young, newly-married patient got in a bad motorcycle crash with her husband. She survived, and her husband didn’t. She woke up and started yelling, “Where’s my husband?!”

Then it got worse. See, we couldn’t tell her that he didn’t make it, as only the doctor could do that. Unfortunately, the doctor couldn’t come up for three hours.

So for three excruciating hours, we couldn’t tell her anything. I would walk into her room, knowing that her life was about to be destroyed. My gut hurt just thinking about it. I’d ask her, “Can I get you anything, ma’am?” and she’d reply, “I just want to know where my husband is. Is he okay?”

I would tell her that I wasn’t sure, but no matter how hard I tried to poker face it, I think she could tell in my voice that he was gone. There’s no chapter on that in any textbook.


100. It Was Too Late

The worst I’ve ever seen was a man in his 50s who drank and had anxiety problems. His neighbors brought him in for a “facial infection.”

We found out that he had squamous cell skin cancer, which made him look a lot like the Batman villain Two-Face. The CT scan of showed it had spread into his lymph nodes and mandible.

The skin on his face was literally sloughing off as I spoke with him, and the smell was absolutely horrible. I’d never almost vomited in a room except until now.

I asked him why he waited, and he said he was just terrified of doctors and hospitals and I believe him. He was really anxious the entire time he was in our ED.

His neighbors were saints. They said they had been trying to get him to the hospital for months but he wouldn’t come in. We transferred him to a tertiary hospital with ENT and cancer specialists. When I checked his chart a few days later, they basically said he was terminal.


101. Poop Everywhere

I was still in nursing school at the time this happened, and I worked as a nurse’s aide overnights. I had been taking care of this really lovely old guy, and we had some great conversations.

He was “with it” and doing well. In the morning, he had told me that he hadn’t slept well and was really looking forward to getting coffee from the cafeteria people.

Later that day, his call light went off, and I went to check on him. When I opened the door, he said, “I think I spilled my coffee.” When I realized what it really was, the blood drained from my face. I turned on the light and there was poop everywhere.

All over him, all over the walls, a bit on the ceiling, all over the bed, and on the floor. He was holding his cup of coffee, which also had poop all over it, and he was just looking at me.


102. Knocked The Nurse Out

When I was a medical student, I had the opportunity to scrub in on a big vascular surgery procedure. One of the lights was a bit tricky to adjust. The surgeon inadvertently gave it a yank, but he was maybe a bit too enthusiastic about it.

The light hit the scrub nurse on the head, knocking her unconscious and into the huge table of open instruments.


103. The Cleanse

I had a patient with a terrible infection at an injection site. I watched in fascination, horror, and disgust as the surgeon squeezed the patient’s arm and thick puss slowly squirted out of the incision. It was like squeezing a tube of toothpaste.

To be honest, I found it to be really satisfying because here was this nasty infection that could really harm this person and it was being cleaned out. I could feel the person feeling better as it was being cleaned.


104. At Least I Saved Her

I did chest compressions on a daughter’s mother while the girl stood at the head of the bed, pleading that I save her mother’s life.

I’ve had some form of medical training since I was 16, but using it so often in a hospital setting makes you less empathetic. I’m also a male nurse if it makes any difference. I didn’t expect to get the feels after such a critical moment in a family’s life.

The mother survived. I definitely broke most of the bones in her chest, though.


105. One Of The Scariest Moments Of My Life

I was a new nurse cleaning up a deceased patient. I went to turn her over, and she let out a horrendous groan. Did know you could force air over the vocal cords of a cadaver? I did not, and I almost pooped myself in my scrubs.


106. The Answer Is Always Yes

I’m a surgeon. Most patients come to me after having seen another physician who has diagnosed them with something and being told to see a surgeon. I’ve seen several patients who were diagnosed with appendicitis….even though they’ve already had appendectomies.

I’ve also been called in for multiple patients who very obviously had previously undiscovered and very advanced cancers.

Those cases are always too far advanced for me to help out on, so I have to wonder: am I being called so I can be the bad guy and explain everything? Yes. The answer is yes.


107. The Milk Is Not For The Husband

I saw a patient who was concerned because she was still lactating, despite the fact that she stopped breastfeeding her twins two years ago.

She said: “Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and find my husband sucking on the breasts. He says he’s trying to drain the milk for me.” I had to explain to her that breastfeeding her husband will lead to continued lactation.


108. Yup, That’s An Eye

Nurse here. A very panicked nursing assistant came running to the desk one day, saying, “You have to see this! I don’t know what this is!” She then brought me into a private room where she was giving the patient a bath.

She pointed to an area on the patient’s buttocks. “What is that?” I leaned in for a closer inspection, and my face went white.

The patient then started to turn back around and said, “IS THAT MY EYE?!” Sure enough, my patient had a prosthetic eye that came out of the socket at some point and it became suction-cupped to her buttock.

I left the room and had never laughed so hard in my life. Truly one of the most bizarre and hilarious moments in my career.


109. Wrong Side

I’m a biomedical scientist, and my officemate was a medical doctor working on his PhD. He once did an appendectomy and cut into this person’s abdomen—only to find no appendix.

He started freaking out. The support nurses in the room, however, started snickering at him because they knew right away what the problem really was.

Occasionally, they see someone with a rare genetic disorder where all their left-right asymmetries are reversed. This patient’s appendix was on the other side.


110. Wrong Diagnosis

I’m a doctor—an ophthalmologist to be exact. Recently, a young guy came to my office. He said he went to urgent care four times in 16 months or so for “pink eye.” They convinced him it was just a coincidence that he got it four times. Well, the guy had blepharitis. Very common. Cracks me up.


111. A Very Emotional Moment Indeed

Hospice pharmacist here. Pharmacy school never really prepared me for hospice care in general. Overall, I love my patients and their families, and I have become very close to them.

Once, I had a patient who had a daughter in her mid-20s and we all loved to sit in his room with his family. They were so friendly and loving.

A few days into his stay, the patient asked me what I depended on my dad to tell me when I was younger. I told him that I needed my dad to educate me on a bunch of car stuff, money decisions; you know, basic dad things.

A few days later, he gave his daughter a heartbreaking gift. It was a book of things she needed to know for when he was gone. I still think of that family to this day.


112. An Explosion Of Poop

On my first day on a new ward, an older woman rang the buzzer in the bathroom. Me being keen to impress, I ran straight to her. I was confronted with a wall of smell and what looked like an explosion of poop…

Everywhere. Up the walls, just everywhere. Turns out, she didn’t think she needed her laxatives the past few days, so she hid them.

The doctors, wondering why they weren’t working, increased her dose…then she took them all at once when she felt bunged up. Oh, and she had also been eating an abundance of fruit.

I had to use several disposable mops to reach parts of the wall. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it before or since. Luckily, I work in neonatal now.


113. Nothing Prepares You For This

My grandmother was a school nurse at an elementary school. They were letting the kids out for the day, and all of the kids were waiting outside. One little boy’s mom came to pick him up.

As she was walking up to the building, she began to have a heart attack. My grandmother began CPR and sent someone to get the defibrillator. She also told another teacher to call 9-1-1.

The woman passed before the ambulance arrived. I don’t think twice her time in medical school could’ve prepared her for that.


114. The Village Idiot

I’ve learned that people will literally stick ANYTHING up their butt and the operating crew will get called out on a beautiful weekend day because of it.

Every. Single. Time. Then, as they are going up to the floor to wheel the patient down for surgery, the patient will invariably greet them with, “Hi, I’m the village idiot.” Yes…yes you are, and you just bought yourself a permanent colostomy bag.


115. There’s Never A Dull Day

I was a psych nurse for nearly two years, and honestly, we learn very little about psychology in school.

The clinical lessons were basically useless, so there was a lot I had to learn as I went…like how to stay calm when you’re cutting a pillowcase off someone’s neck that they tried to hang themselves with, or how to deal with a psychotic teenager who’s bigger than you punching holes in the drywall and then trying to hit you with the pieces.

Or what to do when you walk into the dark day room at 3 am to find your patient perched on top of the giant TV near the ceiling like he’s schizophrenic Batman. Yeah, there was never a dull day.


116. Don’t Go Inside

We are taught to explain to patients exactly what we are doing, as we are doing it, so delicate wording becomes important during female pelvic exams.

Instead of, “Okay, I am going to place the speculum inside now, so you’ll just feel some warm pressure,” my buddy—who was new at this—ended up saying “Okay, I’m going inside you now.”

The female patient responds, “No thanks, I already have three children.”


117. Just A Normal Day At Work

I never learned how to deal with the fully-naked man covered in his own poop who barricaded himself in his room and started command flinging his mess at anyone who attempted to deescalate him.

But I’ll tell you this much—I’ve never felt more like Captain America than I have while fully gowned and equipped with a riot shield blocking flung poops coming my way.


118. No One Warned Me About This

Some people talk while under anesthesia. Some people even scream. Honestly, it gets so bad sometimes that I used to go home in tears, especially after treating very vocal patients.

The only thing that helped was when patients would wake up and tell us, “Thank you so much. That went so fast.” Post-operative checks a week later when I could see the patients were still doing well helped too.

I remember asking the doctor over and over when I first started, “Are you sure they’re under, are you sure they’re numb?” Now, after a few years’ experience, I understand how much local anesthetic he used. The patients were likely numb for a few hours post-treatment.


119. “Whoa”

As a student nurse, I observed a cesarean section when the mother had preeclampsia. The mom was awake with an epidural in place and a screen was in front of her. All went well at first.

Her uterus was sewn back up and I was starting to relax…until the surgeon asked the medical student at the foot of the bed to step aside. That’s when I witnessed an absolute horror.

The doctor reached in and pumped the uterus twice and hard, forcing the remaining after products out of her fast. The wall wasn’t that far from the foot of the bed, and the student had definitely been in the line of fire.

The patient nor the husband didn’t seem to notice, but when the medical student and I looked at each other, she just said, “Whoa.”


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