"My mother (the medical professional of our family) had a 13-year-old girl who was nine months pregnant, in the midst of labor, dilated to 10cm, and crowning in the emergency triage swearing until she was black and blue that she was pure and that nobody knew what they were talking about.
Her mother stood on the sidelines causing a commotion demanding a real doctor make an appearance. Let's just say when the twins made an appearance 10 minutes later, they were all singing a different tune."
"I tested a patient who should test positive for a certain often-abused substance as I prescribed them. The urine looked totally normal but the test came back bizarre. He had an insanely high specific gravity (means there was a lot of stuff dissolved in it), the sample was positive for the substance but had zero confirmatory metabolites (what your body turns the substance into) in it.
Otherwise, the test was totally normal. It took me a couple minutes to figure out how this was possible. The patient was selling their pills instead of taking them and didn't want to get caught. They crushed up the pill and put it into the urine. This made the test 'positive' but because it had never gone through their body the testing machine found no metabolites.
I use the case to find the smart medical student in a group now."
"An old woman came into the emergency room with a high fever, abdominal pain, dizziness, etc.
She's showed signs of toxic shock syndrome (like when you leave a tampon in too long) so the doctor decided to check the woman to make sure nothing got stuck up there. Sure enough, she looked up there and half pooped her pants when she saw two beady little eyes staring back at her!
The doctor began to pull it out to which the old woman responded, 'Put it back!'
Turned out the old woman (well past menopause) had gone to a bad witch doctor to help her get pregnant. Her recommendation: put a (now dead) turtle up there for a few days and she'd regain the ability to get pregnant."
"I was working as a medical technician in the emergency room. We had a male patient -- about 75 years old -- who came in with an extraordinarily low blood pressure and a ton of facial and upper body bruising. He was brought in via EMS after the nurses at his nursing home found him on the floor in his room, where notably there was some blood on the wall.
The guy wouldn't talk to us regarding why he was there but was very talkative in terms of pretty much anything else (sports, the news, etc). We couldn't for the life of us figure out what happened since we couldn't find any bleeding internally, his fluid levels were fine, and he had not left the nursing home (there was nothing available for a high mechanism of injury).
We eventually were able to get him talking (after four hours), and he confessed that he had wanted to commit suicide and had taken the remaining amount of his prescribed nitroglycerin (used for chest pain; lowers your blood pressure rather quickly). Nitro is also the active ingredient in dynamite, but the amount in the pills is minuscule compared to what's in dynamite. He explained that he tried to blow himself up by running into the wall repeatedly.
He was a really nice guy that sent a card to us after everything; he was just extremely lonely."
"This happened in the internal medicine ward at a hospital outside of New York City. A 55-year-old lady was completely mute in the emergency room and was severely constipated with severe abdominal pain. She needed rectal dis-impaction and more than just an acute work-up so she got admitted reluctantly to surgery.
The next morning on rounds she was talking a mile a minute, full of detail about her diet and symptoms and family, etc. That afternoon, she was back to being mute and back to abdominal pain and constipation. Two more days went by with the same pattern. The team was stumped. She was blown away that we can't figure out what was wrong with her and we felt the same way.
Labs, imaging, consultation teams - it all came up empty. Strict ins and outs, strict dietary restrictions, everything we can think of. The janitor came in by chance and was angry he had to change the paper towels 'so many times' in this one room. He said it seemed like the whole floor was stealing them from her. Sure enough, the patient had been consuming about 2,500 paper towels per day.
Psych team came for the obligatory consult, and of course, she was mute. How did we get her to talk? One paper towel at a time.
I think some poor intern got a paper out of that case. Hope she is doing well somewhere."
"A patient we recently had tried to play off a rampant staph infection as 'just some leg swelling.'
It turns out what he meant by that was that he had a horrible infection in and around his genitals (something known as 'Fournier's gangrene'). The swelling had gotten so bad that his junk had literally inverted. He later told us that he had to pee with a five-gallon bucket held up to his crotch because he no longer had any idea where the urine was going to go.
He went into emergent surgery within hours (which was likely to be the first of many). The only way to get rid of an infection like that is debridement in the operating room plus a ton of antibiotics. Somehow this guy had no systemic signs of infection (fever, low blood pressure, etc), so thankfully he pulled through.
Last I heard, he was likely to lose one of his friends down there, but I don't believe they were going to have to remove his whole unit.
I know it's fun to talk about how gross this stuff is, but it's a very serious type of infection. This guy's life was definitely in danger had he waited any longer."
"I was working at a teaching hospital in New Orleans as an agency nurse. When the staff nurses find out an agency nurse is coming in, we get the patients that the other nurses 'don't want to deal with.' In essence, the worst patients on the floor. I received my reports and was making walking rounds with the nurses going off-shift. We walked by a patient's room and he wasn't there. The outgoing nurse says he's 'always going down to smoke' and that he's 'very demanding.' He was a homeless patient there for an infected arm from substance abuse. I asked the nurse why was he being allowed to leave the floor regularly with an IV in his arm and she just shrugged. About an hour later, my patient finally reappeared and shuffled into his room. I made a mental note to go in that room next for my assessment after I finished giving another patient their meds.
I went to walk in, and the door was cracked. I heard snoring, so I'm knocking as I opened the door. I said, 'Hello, I'll be your nurse today.' He didn't flinch. I knew he wasn't dead because I could hear him breathing. I placed my hand on his arm and gently shook him and the dude came out of it screaming like a wild bear, waved his arms, cursed, and flung a bag of an illicit powder right in my face. I hit the code blue button because I was legitimately terrified. This dude was freaking out and I looked like frosty the blow man with a yet-unidentified white powder in my hair, on my face and the shoulders of my scrubs. The code team ran in with a crash cart, saw me, saw the patient freaking out, and grinds to a halt.
Someone ran out and called security, and a big fella of a respiratory therapist pinned the dude down.
Security ran in and handcuffed him to the bed. Nursing floor manager started grilling him about the powder, and I heard him start insisting that it's 'baby powder' and I scared him while he was 'cleaning up' and he threw it on me.
I came to in the ER and got the story from the doc after all the security footage is reviewed. The dude was going downstairs, meeting his supplier, and bringing the goods back upstairs, cutting his supply more with hospital-supplied baby powder that he had been requesting for 'chafing,' going back downstairs, and having his customers meet him in the emergency room parking area.
He had passed out after partaking in the parking lot, and I came in and scared the heck out of him.
He had thrown a baggie of illegal substances and baby powder in my face.
My husband had to get me and I was given a note in case the agency tested me in the near future. I also had to give a statement to police.
It was simultaneously the best and worst day at work I ever had, and subsequently the last hospital shift I have ever worked."
"A patient was very hesitant with what was actually wrong, so we went for an x-ray. There was an unmistakable shape of a Barbie doll up his you-know-what. So he had emergency surgery and it was removed. He came to and saw his wife at his bedside. He panicked, and when she went to the ladies room, asks the nurses not to tell her what's happened. She came back in, and one of the nurses brought back the (poop smeared) Barbie doll, in a small, plastic bag. The wife glared at him.
He muttered, 'I fell on it.'"
"A patient's idiot relatives came into my office and asked me to see this old guy because he had accidentally cut himself and wanted some stitches.
I told them I couldn't do any stitching (lack of sterile equipment) but would've been glad to apply some sterile-strips if the wound allowed it, as long as they brought the man in the office. The request was denied, they kept insisting I see the man at home.
I loaded up my bag to go check on the old fellow. I found him in his bed, conscious but refused to talk, with various superficial knife wounds on his stomach and a gigantic hematoma in the process of swelling on his forehead.
I flipped out and got the relatives to finally talk. They said the man had fought with his sister and decided to self-harm by repeatedly slamming a hammer on his forehead, then had then tried to disembowel himself with a kitchen knife. They didn't call an ambulance because they 'were ashamed' and didn't want to deal with assisting the man in a far away hospital.
I gave them 15 minutes to get their act together and either call an ambulance or get the man to the hospital themselves."
"About seven years ago, just a few years into me being a pharmacist, our community pharmacy decided to put in one of those urgent clinics.
It was cheaper than an emergency room and more accessible than urgent care. A young woman with a broken and misshapen face entered. My first 'mother bear' instinct was, 'Oh god, her boyfriend beat her.' It was a really horrible conclusion to jump to and I felt bad as soon as I thought it but at the time what I saw in front of me was a young woman with blood streaked brown hair, holding a broken nose. Her eyes were puffy and purple.
I took her to the back room, snagged the nurse, and had her start helping with cleanup. I waited to see if I should call for a dispatch. The nurse told me a few minutes later not to bother.
The woman had not been in a fight.
She had not fallen.
There had been no car accident.
She wanted to slide down her staircase on a mattress and smacked into her front door.
It took four hours to find out because she refused to tell anyone and when the police threatened to put her in jail, she confessed."
"My sister's friend is a nurse and told the story of a man who came to the emergency room clutching his abdomen and complained of severe abdominal pain.
He was acting suspicious and kept changing his story, symptoms, site of the pain, etc. My sister's friend and a few other nurses suspected something wasn't right and after maybe an hour or so, he confessed the true cause of his pain.
He had inserted a deflated full-size basketball (note - a VERY cheap one) into his rectum and pumped it up. Amazingly he somehow managed to pump the ball up to the point where it popped inside him.
The popping was what had caused his pain, but the kicker was this: he didn't come to the hospital to treat the pain.
The basketball was still inside his you-know-what and after the pop, a combination of pain, presumably swelling, and the fact that it was still being semi-inflated had meant he was unable to retrieve it himself.
She didn't go into detail as to how the basketball was retrieved, but I can't imagine it was pleasant."
"I was a medic in the Army. I worked in a clinic that only saw trainees. There is a spectrum that all trainees that came to our clinic fell on: malingerers and 'I'm fine but they forced me to come.' We saw much more of the former but I'll never forget this one patient who was on the other end. He was forced to come in after an injury if I remember correctly. He didn't want to miss any training but as we were listening to him tell us about his ankle pain, the physician's assistant I was working with interrupted him and asked him if his throat hurt because he sounded like his throat was obstructed.
He admitted it did but was adamant he didn't want to miss training for a sore throat. We realized after looking at his throat he had an abscessed tonsil."
"I had a patient during my OB rotation, she had a volleyball-sized mass growing from her labia (like a mushroom head on a stalk) that was obscuring her lady parts from view unless you moved it aside. The mass was 8 years in the making. She had trouble walking unless she strapped the mass to her thigh with cloth since it dangled down like really a really large male part. She and her husband had resigned themselves to the belief that she was dying from cancer all those years, without even going to a doctor. Her sister finally convinced her to get it checked and fight her 'cancer'.
We eventually removed the mass and biopsy revealed it WASN'T cancer. The total 180° turn in her attitude from 'I'm ready to die' to 'we need to plan our next vacation!'
When I asked her what took her so long to get checked up, she responded, 'I was afraid of dying in surgery, more so than the thought of cancer.'"
"My aunt is a family doctor, so patients come to her with symptoms and she directs them towards a specialist based on her diagnosis. One day, an elderly husband and wife came into her office and when asked why they had come in, the wife responded, 'His foot has been smelling for a while and I finally convinced him to come to have it looked at.'
My aunt, not hard of smelling, concurred that his foot stunk. She asked him to remove his shoe and sock. When he removed his sock, the bone from his big toe fell out of his toe and onto the ground. Turned out he had a very bad case of gangrene that had eaten away the flesh of his toe.
He knew something was wrong but was stubborn and didn't get it checked sooner. And my big toe hurts now after typing this."
"When I was in the hospital, there was a homeless man that was anything but sober. This guy was next level nonsense. He had two doctors, three nurses, a cop, and an orderly trying to keep him restrained.
He thought he was forming coherent sentences but the words, 'I'm sober' came out several times. Along with, 'I DON'T EVEN DRINK. IT WAS RAINWATER.'
They kept telling him they would sedate him if he wouldn't stop his wild behavior (they couldn't because of his blood level). Every 20 minutes, he would get riled up again and do the same thing.
Eventually, he finally admitted that he was not sober and the cop left the two doctors to look after the man.
The guy even ripped out his IV..."
"When I was a fourth-year medical student, doing a rotation at the veterans administration hospital, the patient came to the emergency room complaining of stomach pain. We did an x-ray, which showed two toothbrushes in his stomach.
He explained to us that he had the sensation that there was something on the back of his throat, and used his toothbrush to try to get rid of it and accidentally swallowed the toothbrush. The same thing happened with the second one.
We consulted gastroenterology, and the toothbrushes were removed via endoscopy. He was admitted to the hospital for observation overnight.
The next morning, he complained of stomach pain again. A follow-up x-ray revealed that he had swallowed his entire convenience kit at the hospital, including the small toothbrush, a small tube of toothpaste, and even his plastic razor. Needless to say, we called psychiatry for consultation. It turned out this was not the first episode for this guy; he just liked to swallow things."
"A patient came in with chest pain. They said they had fallen and hit their chest on a table. Xray was performed to evaluate for a rib fracture or collapsed a lung. The x-ray instead showed a long metallic foreign body in the left chest, within the heart. When questioned further the patient admitted to lying, and that they'd actually shot themselves in the chest with a nailer. The wound was not bleeding nor really noticeable.
They were taken to the operating room and did quite well after open heart surgery."
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