It takes some brave souls to work in an ER room and after reading these stories, you'll definitely understand why.
At the time I was working as a transporter in the radiology department, we shuttle patients in the buildings to and from tests. I get a page to pick up a patient from our Green zone in the ER, non-emergent. I walk into the nursing unit and start looking for the nurse. They see me and get that weird smile on your face. the type of smile in healthcare that makes you worry about what type of patient you are going to be picking up.
I walk in the patients room, introduce myself, and then explain we are off to x-ray. the patient is a very unassuming 20 something yr male, non belligerent and answers my identification questions very calmly. If anything he just looks slightly red faced. I ask him if he is able to walk and he explains that he is having stomach issues and really would prefer not to. No big deal I have him get his legs on the stretcher they use as beds in the room and wheel him on over to X-ray. Get him in the room, close the door and go to fetch techs to take the images. Nor our Xray staff is full of seasoned techs with 10 plus years of experience on average each. The tech looks at the order and tells me to wait around since it won’t be long. Alright. no problem. Tech comes back from the exam room super quiet about 6 minutes later, with a slight smirk. She waves the other techs over to a computer in the back room, away from the patient, chuckles and pulls the images she just took to be fixed up. Two of the younger female techs bolt away from the computer, hands to mouth and slam the door. one of the make techs whistles, and the older female techs, almost in unison go “Welp, that could cause and abdomen complaint.” Very visible in the rectal cavity was a dildo. Long story short the patient told the tech that he had a new girlfriend and she wanted to try something new. Little do most people realize that it gets to be like a vacuum to get things out of there and up it went.
5 hours alter he was released after it was removed, the old fashion way. TLDR: Don’t stick things in your butt too far. Source
When You’re Hungry You….
20/m came in for stomach pains. Said he was hungry. Hadn’t eaten in two days. Source
You’re Allergic To What?!
Had a lady come in for shortness of breath. Began to place an oxygen mask on her. She yells “I’m allergic to oxygen!” and pulls the mask off. I heard the doctor laugh behind the curtain. Source
Whatever It Takes
My friend worked in ER. She had an obese man come in complaining of a rash under his gut. Upon close examination they found several splinters. When asked, the man casually replied “oh, that must be from the love board.” So the crew had to ask for details. Apparently, the couple had to use a board to pry the man’s gut up to get to his junk for love making activities. Source
My mom used to be a registrar in an ER. When patients came in she was the one who took their insurance, asked about their symptoms, took their vitals, etc. One day she’s entering paperwork for a woman whom I think came in for injuries to her hands but I don’t quite remember. Mom’s taking her information, and one of the questions is about the patient’s occupation. The woman says, ‘Oh, I’m a stripper! I work for Dinty Moore!’ Mom responded that she had no idea Dinty Moore hired strippers. The woman says, ‘No, I’m a stripper,’ and gestures emphatically in the air with her bleeding hands. Turns out, she strips the meat off of cow tails. That’s apparently what the meat is in Dinty Moore beef stew, cow tail. Source
I was shadowing in the ER once and this big white lady came in with this massive bruise around her lower stomach area. The doc asked what happened and she responded “my horse kicked me in my lady parts” and I just bit my lip and turned around to force myself to not immediately bust out laughing. Source
I’m an xray tech and the hospital I used to work at had a lot of homeless people come in. This one man came in and there was an order to xray both his feet. As soon as I got to the hallway with his room there was a nasty smell. I got to his room, opened the door, and almost puked. He was soaking is feet in water and it was the worst thing I have ever smelled in my entire life. His skin was peeling off and getting stuck to the xray board. I had to stop a couple times but I kept my poker face! Source
Kinky Gone Wrong
My wife is an ER nurse. Valentine’s Day tends to bring in the best stories. A few years ago a couple came in with lacerations all over their bodies. Apparently, the guy had duct taped a large mirror to the ceiling for sex and it fell and broke all over them. My wife got to pull little pieces of glass out of the lady’s scull and back for a few hours. Source
This Happens EVERY Month
Chick came in because she was “miscarrying.” Claims gravida (pregnancies) 27, para (live births) 0. Says that in the last two years since she got on birth control to help regulate her periods, she’s had a miscarriage every month. We had to explain to her that she was experiencing regular periods not having a miscarriage every month. Source
I was working one afternoon (say 3pmish) when a frequent flyer came in ETOH (drunk) for medical clearance for police detention. His BAC was .58, I shit you not. I was blown away, several nurses were pretty impressed too. Then the doctor proceeded to inform me that .58 was not even the highest that this patient had ever had in our ER. I had never even considered those numbers to be humanly possible. Source
The Big Mac
Scariest: Two month old that suddenly stopped breathing and heart rate dropped into the fifties (for non medical folks that’s waaaay too damn low) but after ten minutes of panic and work they rebounded and are now fine.
Dumbest: Guy who came on the ambulance for chest pain and after parking refused treatment outside and walked across the street for a Big Mac. Guess he was just hungry and didn’t have the money for a cab.
Weirdest: Probably the psych case that insisted they never did drugs but someone else had injected them with meth and termites and now they were worried about a clot in their brain. Source
The Drug Seekers
Currently writing this in the ER, during a slow moment. Probably the dumbest I’ve had was a husband and wife who rode in an ambulance together, both clearly drug seeking. For whatever reason, they were placed in rooms across the hall from each other and kept yelling back and forth about what drugs they were getting. The ambulance was initially called for the wife, who had fallen down stairs (no injuries visible or on x-rays). The husband rode in with them and checked in, claiming the wife had fallen into him and taken them both to the ground. The husband’s only injury was where he said his feet had tangled in the steps. There was no bruising, swelling, abrasions, etc., but he had clearly just manually pulled out 5 of his toenails. They were not contiguous toes, and it involved both feet. Just the nails. Emergency medicine is the daily interference in the process of natural selection, so it takes something truly stupid or crazy to shock me these days. Source
The Manly Cryer
I did a short stint in the ER, the two funny stories among the more tragic and routine stories include: A 30-something year old rancher that was out four wheeling with friends, they bet him he couldn’t climb a tree…he did. Then they bet him he couldn’t jump out of the tree and land upright…he did. Both legs broke. He had a pretty good sense of humor about the whole thing, and barely needed pain meds.
Another was a teen boy, came in because he got upset at a party and punched a window, the glass cut him. When I say cut him I mean a few tiny cuts and scrapes. no glass lodged in the wounds, and he needed exactly zero stitches. We cleaned him up and he cried endlessly. The funny part was that he had full sleeve tattoos, and when the doc brought up the idea that the tattoos had to have hurt way worse than the scratches, he just cried more. We had to laugh about that one. It is kind of callous of us, but something about that situation was just funny. Source
The Paper Cut
Worked in ER billing not the ER and this story actually makes me angry as hell but:
Had a (<10) kid’s chart with codes for nausea, vomiting, broken rib. So I, being snoopy and having time to waste, opened up to the nurses’ notes instead of just entering the info. Turns out the kid (gasp) swallowed his toothpaste after brushing instead of spitting it out. Mom Of The Year freaked the fuck out and gave the kid the Heimlich, to the point of breaking her own son’s rib. Honorable mention: to the lady who came in with her worker’s comp insurance info ready to go for a “laceration” (which is pretty common). But in the section for “laceration repair” the nurse had angrily scribbled through “dermabond” and “sutures” and whatnot to handwrite “TINY band aid” in the box. Yeah, this lady went to the ER and wasted a whole bunch of people’s time for a paper cut. Source
No, No, NO!
I’m a phlebotomist so I draw blood from everybody that walks through the ER. I’ve seen so much that I basically just tune out the weirdness. I’m there for a job and the sooner I get my blood, the faster I can move on to other tasks.
Scariest- a guy comes in coding after being found passed out at the kitchen table. They couldn’t get an ET tube in him but CPR otherwise was going ok. They discover that there is an entire hotdog down his throat, blocking his trachea. The RT ends up pulling out a 6″ long by 1″ wide wiener. Haven’t eaten a hotdog since then because I’m terrified of choking to death!
Dumbest- a 19 year old kid just finished 9 months of chemo for cancer. He decided to celebrate by getting wasted. Passed out in an elevator at ~3am and wasn’t found for a couple of hours. Not quite sure whatever happened to him but it was stupid of him to get so drunk after getting CHEMO the same day.
Dumbest #2- a girl was 100% convinced she was pregnant. Her period was a day late, she felt fluttering in her belly, and had nausea. Well her serum pregnancy came back negative and she insisted that we do a hCG level because it was too early. Doctor ordered it anyway (DUMB) and it was <5, aka negative. Pt was STILL convinced that our hundreds of thousands of dollars in machinery wasn’t accurate and demanded an ultrasound. Found lots and lots of gas, but no baby. We wasted ~$500 on her stupidity because her government insurance refused to pay for the hCG and US and she would never pay it so we absorbed the cost. Source