Doctors are some of the best-educated members of society, but the same can't be said for a lot of the patients they treat. Each day, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals deal with some of the most idiotic people that will leave them scratching their heads.
A Reddit thread recently asked doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to reveal the dumb patients that they'll never forget, no matter how hard they try. When someone asks why doctors get paid as well as they do, just remember any of the following stories. All posts have been edited for clarity.
She Hated To Be The Bearer Of Bad News…
“One time when I was 8 or so, my mom took me to the ER because I kept getting really hot and then I’d be freezing and we didn’t know what was wrong with me. We got checked in and were told to sit down and wait to be called. While we were waiting, this lady and who I’m assuming was her husband came in. The guy was in one of those electric scooter things and both the guy’s legs had been amputated. I was sitting right by the reception desk so I could hear all of this go down:
Receptionist: ‘What seems to be the problem, ma’am?’
Lady: ‘His legs won’t grow back.’
R: ‘What do you mean?’
L: ‘His legs aren’t growing back! The scooter isn’t working!’
The receptionist then had to explain to this grown woman that being in the scooter won’t make his legs grow back. The poor guy looked so embarrassed, sad, and just done with everything.”
It’s Just Gas…Right?
“I worked in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. One night we were called to labor and delivery for a preterm delivery. This woman called 911 because her stomach hurt a lot and she thought she was dying. At the hospital ER, it was confirmed she was pregnant and in labor. The whole time we were there, she kept saying she was dying and why wouldn’t we help her. OB telling her she was in labor and to push each time she felt pain. She kept yelling ‘It’s just gas! I’ve had gas for a while, but it won’t come out because I’m dying!’ Fast-forward to baby coming out. OB hands the baby to the nurse who then shows NotAMom her baby. NotAMom says, ‘That’s not mine! I have gas!’
The nurse places the baby on her chest and says, ‘Well, here’s your gas. It’s a boy!'”
“I Want To Meet THE Doctor!”
“I recently talked to a patient that is getting ready for surgery that involves usage of robotic arms to help remove the tumors. This allows for smaller incisions and greater precision.
This patient starts insisting to meet the doctor when it seemed like the consult was wrapped up. So we get him back in there, thinking maybe she’s got another question. The patient says, ‘I still want to meet the doctor.’
And the doctor points at himself and says, ‘I’m the doctor.’
Patient: ‘I know you’re A doctor but I want to meet THE doctor!’
Doctor: ‘You’ve already met the resident. I’m the doctor doing your procedure.’
Patient: ‘No, not you! I want to meet the robot that’s going to do my surgery! I feel like we should at least shake hands first!’
Apparently, the patient was expecting some metal man to walk through the door. The patient also had ‘cancer cure’ recipes and was insistent we take notes.”
The Oatmeal Lady
“A woman came in after having a baby and tells us she had trouble nursing. I booked her an appointment at a lactation clinic and gave her some resources. Her appointment was fine, and she went on her merry way. A few weeks later, we got the fax that she went to the clinic, and everything was fine. Awesome.
A year later she shows up for her doctor’s appointment, and she’s obese. She must have put 100 pounds on an already obese frame. She’s developed many health problems related to her weight. She tells us she’s never been more active after having a kid; her diet hasn’t changed, her work life hasn’t changed, nothing has changed, the weight gain just happened due to hormones. We ask if she’s feeding, she says yes. We ask how she’s getting the extra calories for the feeding, and she tells us the Clinic told her to eat one to two bowls of plain oatmeal a day. It worked, so she’s still doing it.
We figure this is how she gained so much weight (she’s probably eating two large bowls of oatmeal on top of her meals, with milk, sugar, butter, etc.), but the woman insists she’s eating one to two packets of plain oatmeal a day. Nothing on it, nothing added to it. It says plain on the package, it tastes plain, it’s plain.
We send the doctor in to see her afteår briefing him on the whole story about the oatmeal. He’s in the room with her a long time — much longer than normal. When she comes out of the room, she keeps her head down and walks off, looking angry and embarrassed. The doctor walks up to the nursing table and fills out the chart.
‘You never asked what brand of oatmeal she’s eating.’
It turns out she didn’t know plain rolled oats were a thing. She thought the feeding clinic meant plain oatmeal cookies. She was eating an entire package of oatmeal cookies every single day for a year (basically a ‘bowl or two’ filled with cookies), and could not understand how that was different from oatmeal.”
An Overly Imaginative Hypochondriac
“The patient had a cold, convinced it was ‘severe sinusitis’ (a bit of a known hypochondriac). She saw the doctor and got a script for an antibiotic. She was convinced she was allergic to every antibiotic she tried until all that was left was antibiotics which aren’t usually used in URTIs at a sub-therapeutic dose (because she’s ‘very sensitive to medications’). The infection wasn’t going away so she took antibiotics for a long amount of time. She somehow got her hands on a blood glucose machine and must have had a reading that was slightly low one day because all of a sudden she started buying bags and bags of jelly beans because ‘the infection is making my blood sugar go dangerously low,’ (we tested it, it wasn’t). So she is taking more and more glucose (moved onto the straight glucose powder now) to control the ‘dumping syndrome’ (I don’t think she even read the Wiki on that one…) that the infection caused. She is testing her blood glucose on average 20 times a day and taking about 250gm of pure glucose, at least, plus supplementing with lollies from the supermarket for some variety.
Nobody can convince her otherwise, we’ve all tried. She’s put on ~15kg in the last month or so and will definitely end up with diabetes soon.
But it got worse. In exasperation, the doctor said to her (in her 3rd appointment that month) ‘You should count yourself lucky, there are people far worse than you that can’t even get out of bed.’ She now gets deliveries because she is so sick she can’t get out of bed…”
“I had a little boy with very little intestine left after numerous surgeries had removed dead or non-functioning bowel. So he could not eat by mouth or stool out of his rectum, he was fed a high-calorie, highly-nutritious formula through a tube in his stomach, which then went through for absorption, ending into his ileostomy bag.
As you can imagine, it was tough for his body to retain calories nor nutrients, so his growth and development were behind. One day he was brought into the emergency department by his mom because he was dumping too much liquid stool into his bag. He was brought in on a gurney, holding a bag of Cheetos and drinking Pepsi in a baby bottle.”
What Is And Is NOT Genetic?
“I’ve had a patient claim that amputations run in his family.
He said that was the only reason he needed both legs taken off above the knee. He was adamant that it was not actually due to his uncontrolled diabetes, his enormous and continual sugar intake, his refusal to use insulin, or his refusal of treatment for the giant infected wounds on both feet.”
An Awkward Mother-Son Talk
“A barely conscious older lady was brought into the emergency department by her husband. In a very thick Italian accent, she told the doctor she was dying. She had complained of feeling tingly and having a dry mouth before passing out.
The doctor sat the husband down, and they took a medical history. No serious medical problems and she was very fit. In fact, she spent the morning cleaning her son’s bar, as she often did on a Sunday morning.
Considering her age, they took these symptoms seriously and started running tests to find the source of her ailments.
The son came in to visit his mother, and on the way, he bypassed his bar. He noticed that his mother had helped herself to some of the ‘treats’ prepared the night before.
The son, the apple of his parents’ eye, had to then explain to his father and the doctor that the treats she had enjoyed were space cakes. And apparently, she enjoyed them as she ate quite a few.
They then had to sit down and tell this elderly lady that she was not dying and that she was in fact stoned.
Fortunately, she was still high enough to see the humor.”
The Ol’ Cake And Ice Cream Smoothie
“I had a patient who was coming back post lap band for a checkup. What we usually do is revise the patient’s weight, and ‘tighten’ the band or ‘loosen’ it as needed.
Now the thing to remember is that getting lap band isn’t as easy as just throwing down some money. For six months, the patient must meet with a psychiatrist and a dietitian to understand what they’re getting into and if they can adjust their lifestyles and commit. A goal weight loss target is usually set for the end of the six months to ensure the patient is serious. So after all of this rigorous evaluation, a patient is deemed fit for the operation.
Enter my patient ‘Sylvia.’ I checked her chart, BMI before surgery was 40, she was morbidly obese and now had come in for her first follow up to ascertain if she’d lost any weight. Well, I put her on the scale, calculate, and what do I see? Her BMI was now 45. Perplexed, I asked her to explain her diet to me.
Sylvia: ‘Well I’ve been doing a liquid diet just like you all said.’
Me: ‘Very good! Can you maybe what you have?’
Sylvia: ‘I make smoothies and have them whenever I feel hungry.’
Me: ‘So what do you put in your smoothies?’
Sylvia: ‘Cake and ice cream.’
Yup. She was serious. Somehow it didn’t occur to her that this wouldn’t be healthy. We reversed her band.”
Never Google Your Symptoms
“I am an ER doctor and recently had a young male patient who came in for about the fifth time complaining of abdominal pain and vomiting. Looking over his records from past visits, I could see that his symptoms had previously been attributed to either acid reflux and gastritis or cyclic vomiting syndrome due to daily heavy substance use. Anyway, he’d been told to take Nexium twice a day and cut back on the drinking, as well as follow up with a GI doctor, but he had done none of those things. Instead, he tells me, ‘Doc, I Googled my symptoms and I’m sure I have stomach cancer. My mom has cancer too, so she gave me some of her chemo-therapy pills and I started taking those.’
So, yeah, guy ignored the medical diagnoses and recommendations he was given and instead decided he had stomach cancer and treated himself by taking his mother’s chemotherapy pills. He wasn’t sure what kind of cancer his mom had. I tried to explain that different cancers require different medications, that chemotherapies are the most toxic medications we made and might kill him. He was very unlikely at his age to have stomach cancer and much more likely to have over-production of stomach acid for which he should take the medicines he was prescribed the last several times he came to the ER.”
How Could Anyone Survive That Many Heart Attacks?!
“This happened in med school. I was taking the history of a guy in a clinic and I asked about his past medical problems, including if he had had any heart attacks.
He responded, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve had about 20 of those.’
‘…you’ve had 20 heart attacks??’
‘Which doctor(s) did you see about them? Do you have a cardiologist?’
‘Nah, I never went to a doctor. My wife is a massage therapist, and whenever a heart attack hits, she starts to massage some pressure points and it stops.’
‘……Uhhhhh, ok……What does it feel like when you have a heart attack?’
‘I don’t ever remember them. My wife tells me that I fall onto the floor and my arms and legs start jerking. She says it takes about a minute of her massaging before it stops. I then get really confused and tired afterward, and I can’t remember much of anything that happens to me until I take a nice long nap.’
The dude was having seizures and thought that they were heart attacks. They normally stop on their own after a few minutes (at the most), and his wife thought that her massages were curing him.”
Not The Best Diet For A Baby…
“Lady came to the clinic with her 8-month-old baby and she was pretty freaked out. Her baby had diarrhea for the last few weeks and it wasn’t going away. She initially wasn’t concerned but then her friend told her that diarrhea is the first sign of AIDS and now she was convinced her baby contracted AIDS.
We quickly ruled that out through their med records and assured her that her baby didn’t contract AIDS randomly. As we finished examining the baby it started to cry so we handed it to her mother. Lo and behold she pulls out a baby bottle to get the baby to stop crying…only this baby bottle is red and is filled with Kool-Aid.
We had to explain to her that babies can’t handle sugar at that age and that was the cause of diarrhea. She refused to believe what we said. ‘I was raised on Kool-Aid and look at me I’m fine.’
Man the south side of Chicago is a completely different world.”
Those Pills Do Not Work How You Think They Work
“A 20-year-old girl came in with abdominal pains. We did a pregnancy test and she was pregnant. She acted surprised because she was on the pill. I asked her how long she’s been on it and if she had been taking it daily as prescribed. As if it were the most logical thing on the planet, she said she did not take it daily because she did not sleep with her boyfriend daily. I looked at her trying hard not to laugh. She only took them right after the act, ‘So, like, maybe a couple of times a week…'”
The Reason We Don’t Drink The Things We Find On The Road
“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 Jack Daniels and he quickly chugged it down. To be fair it did look like it. It wasn’t.
It turns out it was a substance that contained sulfuric acid. Its pH was less than 2.5… Shortly after he gets to the ICU he is in excruciating pain and vomiting blood.
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).”
Her Changing Skin Tone Caused Alarm
“When I was in college, this girl (white) I was dating called me all freaked out that her skin, ‘was turning black.’ She said she was going to the hospital. My house was across the street from the University hospital, so I decided to head over to see what was up. She was distraught.
I went into the examination room with her and she explained her situation to the doctor and showed him her arm. The doctor just licked his thumb and rubbed her arm.
Turns out she was wearing a brand new black sweater and some of the fibers rubbed off on her arms.”
Leave It To The Professionals
“I worked in a private WASP hospital in a very affluent community. This meant I missed out on injuries from gang violence but got to see some of the dumbest attempts at home improvements ever. I will list my favorite.
So, two guys are attempting to lay hardwood flooring. They have no clue what they are doing, but what the heck. They rip up the old flooring, lay down some plywood and start to lay down their nice antique hardwood boards. At this point, they have an issue. How does one find the studs in the floor when they are covered by the larger plywood panels?
Well, being geniuses, they decide to send one guy to the floor below and have him call out under the beam and have the guy fire his nail compressor over the sound.
There are so many issues at this stage that it is amazing. I have no clue why they thought this plan was a good idea. So tempting to start smacking them around at this point… but had to be professional and just let them keep going.
Sure enough, the guy on the top floor missed a beam, fires the way over-powered tool into plywood, it goes through the weaker first layer of flooring, shoots the guy on the bottom floor in the head. They know the nail missed the beam (there is a hole to prove it) but can not locate the nail.
Oddly enough, the patient was fine. The nail grazed his skull and entered the skin, then settled behind his ear. It was a very sore bump. He assumed the nail had hit him on the way by and initially, didn’t want to come in, but the friend insisted on it since they could not find the missing nail.
Great x rays, couldn’t keep them.”
He Swallowed A Spider To Catch A Fly
“I spent a semester shadowing doctors in the emergency room in college.
There was a man who came in claiming he had shoved a pill bottle up his butt five days earlier and had not been able to poop since then, so he had subsequently attempted to remove this pill bottle with a screwdriver. The doctors x-rayed his abdomen and found that there was no obstruction in his bowels at all. He had imagined the entire the entire thing, and there was never a pill bottle up his butt in the first place.
The screwdriver, however, was very real.
This man had used a screwdriver to remove an imaginary pill bottle from his butt, which caused rectal bleeding and a lot of other nonsense. Also, his wife was sitting in the room the entire time.
They said that he was so casual about the entire thing, and his wife was just sitting there stonefaced. “