When you go to the doctor, you generally assume that they have your best interest in mind, that they are competent, and that they will do everything they can to make sure you get better. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Some doctors are more interested in getting people in and out of their office as quickly as possible rather than taking the time to make sure health issues are addressed. Others refuse to believe that their patients are as injured as they say, even going so far as to accuse them of faking their injury.
We looked through Reddit and found the worst cases of medical ignorance and compiled them here. Content has been edited for clarity.
"When I was about 12, I had to go to the doctor for a cough. I had to take my shirt off so that he could listen to my lungs or something and when he was done, he just casually said to my mom, 'A bit of a late bloomer, huh?' He was referring to the fact that I didn't exactly fill out my training bra and had some leftover baby fat. Thanks, doc. I wanted you to get rid of my cough, not my self-esteem."
"I broke my femur when I was a kid. I was playing outside running and jumping off walls/hedges and stuff with my cousin and as I landed on the grass over the far side of a wall, he could not see me on the other side. As I pulled myself up from the ground with my leg in a compromised position he jumped over the wall and landed on it. I didn't think much of it until I tried to get up again with no success obviously.
When I arrived at the hospital, the doctor exclaimed that it was impossible that it was broken as it was such a tough bone. He swore it was only bruised/sprained. He then lifted my leg only to have it fold mid thigh around his hand.
I screamed and remember seeing his face drop, giving off major 'I really shouldn't have done that' vibes. I was rushed off pretty quickly.
I spent six months with an external fixator and had rehab to walk again which I think was more painful than the whole thing."
"When my son was born, we had a resident physician who'd assist the attending. She was a one-woman show: not a single thing that came out of her mouth was professional, kind, compassionate or even remotely helpful. During labor, she would routinely tell us the wrong information: she'd tell us my wife was more/less dilated than she really was (the nurse or attending would rectify this) and she would constantly warn us that my wife was getting too sick to deliver and was getting into a dangerous zone with her health.
Eventually, my wife had a c-section, and this resident would amp her up: listing off the possible complications, including death, brain death, paralysis, blindness, etc. It must have been a hundred life-ending/altering complications. My wife was in tears when the anesthesiologist comes in. My wife's blood pressure was through the roof, and the doctor asked what's wrong. Through her tears, she told him. He lost his mind. He muttered, 'Mothereffer...' then gave us a realistic picture of complications.
Off we went. Zero complications and a healthy baby.
The next day, the resident came in, almost at a full run. 'BILIRUBINS...' Panting 'OFF THE CHART...' Panting 'EMERGENCY...' So, she looked around for the baby. The baby was in with the pediatrician, who happened to be the hospital's Chief of Pediatrics. We had been having latching problems and the pediatrician was brought in for a routine check-up.
She ran down the hall trying to find the doctor/baby. I was going into a full panic attack as I chased after her. She found the pediatrician. This guy was in a golf shirt, slacks and was holding my son with a senior nurse. Neither of the two senior staff looked the least bit worried, but I couldn't tell what's going on. The resident screamed, 'BILIRUBINS!'
He said, 'Shut up.' Turns out, his bilirubin was in the normal range. She had read the wrong file, it was for a little girl who was already undergoing light therapy and was due to be discharged. The nurse, who is Jamaican, grabs me and tells me to relax. She forces me into a chair, hands me some water and is patting my back. The Chief of Pediatrics lights-up this resident. He goes off, telling her she's traumatizing patients and her behavior is unacceptable and that he's speaking with the resident director.
'So, the baby isn't going blind?' I just sat there, shocked, horrified and shaking. As I write this, my son is tearing his toys to bits and randomly farting, then laughing.
The best resident was this young guy who said: 'I'm young, I'm inexperienced, so if I'm managing your care, you should know that you aren't in any sort of trouble. The nurses and I report to your doctor and everything will be okay!'"
"I was 12 years old at summer camp. I had a high fever, nausea, and sharp abdominal pain on my lower right. Other kids told me my skin and lips were really discolored. I went to the nurse, she did the hand on forehead, tells me to lie down in the back of the infirmary, then told the counselor that I'm faking it and I'll be back out when I'm bored.
The assistant nurse took my temperature: 103. Then she starts having an argument with the head nurse. I wake up in recovery at a hospital a day or two later. My appendix was gangrenous and had burst a bit.
I worked at the same camp a few summers later and got into a conversation with the same head nurse and she said that my acting almost cost her job. I just took off my shirt and pointed at the 8-inch scar."
"I was recently pregnant and was horribly sick right from the start. It was awful and I was put on a high dose of medication to try and control the nausea. At 14 weeks, I went to the ER because I hadn't been able to eat in days. The doctor scoffed at me and said, 'You're pregnant. What did you expect? As long as you can sip water, I'm not going to bother giving you an IV.' I saw him for maybe three minutes.
My daughter ended up being stillborn at 24 weeks due to medical complications we were both having from the pregnancy and the fact that my placenta was apparently rotting from the inside. After I delivered her, some of the placentae were retained. When I was wheeled into the operating room to have it removed, the anesthesiologist asked me excitedly whether I'd welcomed a girl or a boy into the world. I said, 'Girl, but she died,' while my nurse glared at him with fury in her eyes. I could tell he felt awful. It hurt like heck to have to say out loud for the first time and if he had even glanced at my chart (something you hope they do before surgery) he would have seen the butterfly symbol they taped to the front to try and avoid those moments. Honestly, his accidental question was so noteworthy precisely because the hospital staff went so above and beyond to be sensitive and thoughtful."
"In college, I was extremely depressed and was going through a tough time working out some past trauma. I couldn't sleep, had no appetite, and felt nauseated/ill almost constantly. Naturally, a few months of this led me to dropping weight drastically. I had previously been quite average, but I ended up being thin enough that my ribs were easily visible and my sternum, clavicle, and hipbones jutted out. I ran out of fitting clothes to wear and my period stopped. I just couldn't bring myself to eat anything and would feel sick if I did. I was failing almost all my classes because I just couldn't concentrate. Needless to say, it was a very unpleasant time.
Now, I was seeing a therapist at the student health center and she did wonders for me. As a matter of fact, I would be dead right now if not for her. Unfortunately, she was unable to prescribe me things, so I had to see the resident psychiatrist as well.
The psychiatrist and I had never gotten along very well, as right off the bat she did things like answer her cell phone while in session with me, or admit that she hadn't read my most recent file prior to our appointment. Still, she was the only psychiatrist at the health center, so I kept seeing her for about two years.
Since our last appointment, I had, as said above, lost a tremendous amount of weight and many people told me I looked skeletal. The only thing that I could wear without it falling off were my dresses, so that's what I wore to our latest appointment.
We got to talking and I ended up having to explain why I'd lost so much weight, as she once again admitted that she hadn't read my therapist's notes that had been sent over. I described all of the discomfort and unhappiness I was feeling, and how it was affecting my grades. She looks at me and says, 'Well, on the bright side, at least you look much better than you did before.' It was our last appointment."
"I have a genetic disorder (Ehlers Danlos). I've been exhibiting signs for my whole life. About half the doctors I saw about it blew it off and the other half agreed I may have it but weren't qualified to diagnose it.
Just a few months before finally going in to see a geneticist and confirming it, I went to try out a new primary care physician when I had severe chest pain. It felt like a cross between a heart attack and a stress fracture or slipped rib, which occurs more commonly with EDS. Since it was relevant, I mentioned that I was being evaluated for it soon as several doctors had said I likely had it. I offered to get the records of x-rays and adjusted dislocations/subluxations from my chiropractor sent over, to show how prevalent it is. I also asked for both versions of the Lyme test as my geneticist wanted me to have ruled it out by the time I saw him.
-Gave the nurse crap for giving me an EKG which said nurse thought was vital to do since I was having severe chest pain and EDS can make the heart weak. He did this In front of me.
-Repeatedly cut me off when I was listing symptoms, then would say I don't exhibit xyz (which I was literally about to say I had before I was cut off) then accused me of just saying I had whatever was convenient after the fact.
-Insisted there was only one version of the Lyme test and it was 100% accurate. Neither of which are true, missing diagnoses is why so many people have it chronically now.
-Said 'I don't know what this (pronounces my condition as purposefully wrong as possible) is, but I can assure you that you don't have it. I've been watching you and you look perfectly fine, there's no way you could have dislocated anything as often as you say because you would be visibly deformed. I'm not saying you're crazy, but if your x-ray and tests come back normal, which I'm sure they will, you have to accept you have nothing wrong with you and see a psychiatrist. And I'm not giving you any medication for your pain because you're on too much as it is.' I was on one stomach medication, and some topical steroids for my skin condition, no pain meds.
PS. I, at that time, had severe costochondritis and was confirmed to have EDS by the geneticist. I sent that doctor's office a very angry letter about bedside manner after."
"When I was 15, I spent a few weeks in a psych ward for children. It pretty much sucked, we had no therapy and I saw a doctor exactly twice.
My second chat with a psychiatrist, he asked me how's it going. I'm not a one to lie to doctors, so I told him pretty much everything. How I'm feeling worse then I did before getting admitted, that other patients have been aggressive and I'm anxious around them and that I was considering committing suicide after I leave. The nice doctor said it was very good I was feeling that way because the hospital is supposed to make us feel awful, so we see how good we have it at home.
I was discharged three days later. What makes me angry is that half the patients were from abusive households and children's' homes. Go ahead, tell them how much better they have it at home, jerk."
"I went to the emergency room one night because a friend kicked my finger by accident and I definitely heard a snap. It was super swollen and really painful. Because it was just a finger, I obviously had to wait for hours, not much of an emergency. At one point, I asked a nurse for some ice to help alleviate some pain. She rolled her eyes at me and said, 'I don't even know why you're here, your finger is probably fine.' She made me feel like I was wasting everyone's time, but I refused to leave.
I got an X-ray done, the doctor said I was fine, gave me a splint, sent me home. A week later, things still didn't feel right so I went back. My finger was fractured in three places, required emergency surgery (twice) and a year and a half later, I have no movement in my finger whatsoever. I've been to three surgeons and no one can help me. It also really affected me mentally. Now, whenever I want to go to the doctor, I always have this nagging voice in my mind like, 'But is it important enough? Are you wasting someone's time?' Even though obviously I wasn't that night...my finger is super messed up."
"A few years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with a bit of dry mouth, so I stood up and went to go get some water. I took a few steps and immediately felt like I was going to puke, so I turned around to go to the bathroom, and I fainted as I went through the door. I woke back up to my parents looking at me and asking if I feel alright, and then I fainted again. The next time I woke up, I feel cold and my parents tell me that all the color had drained out of my face. I managed to stand up without fainting again and was rushed to the hospital.
They get me in a bed and start going through the standard procedure. They hooked me up with saline, took some blood. They wanted a urine sample but it took forever and a half to get to the point where I needed to pee. By that time, I felt fine. My parents and I thought that I had fainted because I was dehydrated because that had happened a few times before.
In comes the nurse with the urine test results. He comes in, pulls up a chair, sets down the results, looks at me and asks 'Son, is there anything you want to tell me?'
It's like 5 am and I'm freaking exhausted. He looked like he was fishing for something, but I had no idea what was going on, so I said 'No?'
'Are you sure you don't want to tell me what was going on before I tell your parents?'
'What are you talking about?'
He picks up the folder with the test results, takes out the papers, and slams them down onto a table next to him. 'So you said you think your son fainted because he was dehydrated? He fainted because he was smoking crack.'
My parents and I all say 'What?' at the same time.
He thinks I'm trying to deny an addiction, so he gets closer to me and yells, 'Don't you lie to me! Your urine tested positive!'
I don't do illegal substances. I've never even been interested in doing any. My immediate reaction to his accusation was to freak out because I thought I had been poisoned in the middle of the night.
My parents similarly understood that I had never done any sort of illegal substances in my entire life. They asked the nurse if there was literally anything that might have caused a false positive on the test. She mentioned that I had taken Claritin-D (which contains sudofedrine) before going to bed that night, and she reckoned that taking that and being dehydrated might have caused a false positive.
The nurse shot back with 'No! That's impossible! That could never test false-positive! Your son's an addict!' He looked so freaking smug, having 'outed' me. So he gathers his stuff up and leaves, saying that he'll wait until we get things sorted out before leaving the hospital.
My mother called my godmother (who is some sort of medical professional - I don't know what, exactly) and asked her if being dehydrated and taking Claritin-D could possibly cause a urine test to show a false positive and my godmother said, 'Yeah, that happens all the time!'
I really hope that idiot nurse got fired."
"I was about to have a hernia operation and was in my gown and lying on a trolley in the little room they leave you in next to the operating theatre while they get ready.
I could hear everything being said in the next room, and I heard my surgeon walk in and say hello to everyone. He said hi to my anesthetist and asked him how he was doing today. My anesthetist replied, 'I'd be doing better if you stopped sending me so many fat patients.' They all had a laugh and he started to swear about me and tell everyone my weight.
Now, I weighed 138kg (about 300 pounds) at the time and was very aware of my weight, but I didn't need to hear about it from a room full of strangers who I needed to trust while I was unconscious and being cut into.
They wheeled me into the room and I just felt so anxious and crappy. I was shocked and couldn't say anything. I don't think they ever knew I could hear everything, but I was just so angry.
Happy ending though, I took that anger and channeled it to losing weight. After I recovered from the operation, I starting seeing a personal trainer and within 12 months had lost 50kg / 100lbs."
"'I think you're a hypochondriac.'
While pregnant, I couldn't stop throwing up. My GP told me I was a hypochondriac and I was making myself throw up. I lost 40 lbs during my pregnancy and was finally hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum when I was 8 months pregnant because I was almost catastrophically dehydrated.
Apparently, that was just this guy's thing. He also told a friend of mine that she was a hypochondriac, too. Turns out she has Lupus. Two hips and two knees later, she's doing quite well.
He can no longer practice medicine because he was caught sleeping with one of his patients that he had been prescribing antipsychotics for."
"I went in after getting bit by a stupid cocker spaniel because the hand it bit was inflamed and it looked infected to me. The doctor, after looking at my hand, just casually goes, 'Oh, by the way, your haircut makes you look like a dude, if you didn't have such a big set of knockers, I'd have asked you if the info you gave us was correct.'
I'd shaved my head a couple weeks before as a show of solidarity with my cousin, who had cancer. I was too shocked to say anything and he just left the room."
"I took my two daughters, 15 and 17, to Johns Hopkins Pediatric ER with extreme pain. They both have been diagnosed with a form of dysautonomia called POTS. They each have a cardiologist and a neurologist at Hopkins, and I communicated with these docs and went to the ER at their suggestion.
The resident told my 15-year-old to 'suck it up' and deal with the pain. My daughter started to cry, and the doc just stared at her. The attending questioned the meds that the neurologist prescribed for my 17-year-old and told her they wouldn't work on her kind of pain and felt the need to contact the neurologist to personally speak with him before she would consider preparing the IV. When my daughter explained the level of pain she was experiencing, the doc told her that they 'don't have pain meds other than Advil and Tylenol.' When she came back in an hour later and grudgingly said she would give her the IV, my daughter was so frustrated that she said she'd rather just go home (she's terrified of needles, and once she had an hour to think about the doctor's comments that it wouldn't work, she wasn't willing to do it).
Their specialists were furious when they heard how they were treated in the ER. We think that because I came in with both of my daughters looking for pain relief that I was after meds for myself. Unfortunately, I cannot control if my children's flare-ups coincide. The cardiologist has since offered to give me a letter to carry for each of the girls to certify and explain their medical issues.
Just to clarify, I love Hopkins and their peds ER. We have been extremely satisfied with the level of care my girls have received in the past."
"I went to the dentist for a cleaning and had another appointment to take care of a wisdom tooth. The dentist told me, 'You're fat, you know that? Your teeth wouldn't be so bad if you weren't so fat. God, you Native Americans are all so fat.'
Let's discuss what's worse: her visibly uncomfortable dental technicians, who are all Natives; the fact the clinic was EXCLUSIVELY for my tribe; the way off-color remarks she made later about tribal members being poor; or that she went on about how she was better than this.
Or perhaps the fact she just insulted the medical director's grandson.
It's really sad because they had trouble finding a dentist (because we are a disgusting people, I guess) but she magically 'found a job in Florida' the second time I was there. She wouldn't shut up about how she was leaving for this great job in Florida. She bragged so much it seemed almost unbelievable. Almost like it was a total lie and she was really just a racist witch who was losing her job. I should have called her out, but I'm sure her techs already knew."