Most people who go to the hospital or call an ambulance have a good reason. Why would someone waste their time and medical teams' time with fake illnesses, disorders, and medical emergencies? Well, prepare to expect the unexpected.
A Reddit thread recently asked medical professionals to reveal the biggest faker they ever had as a patient, and surprise, surprise, a lot of people like to come to the hospital with trumped up symptoms. After reading these stories, it's easy to see why doctors, nurses, and paramedics are so stressed out all of the time. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"One night, I was in the waiting room at the ER. In hobbled this girl crying and carrying on like she was dying. She told the nurse she was hit by a car and needed to see a doctor right away. She kept emphasizing how she needed something for the pain. The nurse told her how many people were ahead of her and told her to sit down. She started crying even louder. 'OW, it hurts! Please help me! I can't wait that long! I think my leg is broken!!!' Just sobbing and weeping like an actress in a B-movie.
She carried on like this for an hour as more and more people were called up ahead of her. Then she was talking on a cellphone, just loud and obnoxious, 'I'm at the hospital! I got hit by a car and nobody's helping me! Nobody cares that I'm practically dying!'
Finally, somebody went in who arrived after she did. She jumped up all mad at the nurse and went stomping forward and pointing, 'I was here before her! I thought I was next!'
The nurse just looked down and said, 'I thought you had a broken leg.'
The girl realized she was busted. She told the nurse to get bent and stomped out. The lady in the chair next to me told me she saw that same girl doing the same act at the downtown hospital a few weeks earlier. Apparently, she just wanted pills to sell on the street."
"I had a woman come into triage in labor and delivery. We ruled her out for breaking her water.
She wasn't pleased that she wasn't going to get induced and be delivered, so after I left the room, she flooded the bed, the floor and herself with tap water. There were literally gallons and gallons of water leaking out from under the door. It was like that scene in Coneheads.
She said it was her water breaking. Again, we quickly ruled her out and told her she needed to go home. She subsequently peed the bed before leaving."
"My mom had a patient who said she had passed kidney stones at home and needed painkillers.
The lady actually brought in the kidney stones as proof, which is something that patients don’t usually do. The stones were way bigger than people can pass on their own.
My mom sent them to the lab and they came back as 'geological origin,' meaning the crazy lady picked up small stones from outside to try and get meds."
"This 13-year-old kept getting admitted for complaints that never made sense. Lack of smell. Dizziness. 'Seizures' that would happen while he was walking/running. Heart felt hot. Every specialist under the sun had seen him and cleared him, and he had every test and imaging study you could think of.
There was a lot of social stuff going on and this was a hard family to discharge. He'd get admitted, we'd run a hundred tests, and as soon as we were about to discharge him, some new symptom would come up.
The worst was once after I had already written the discharge orders and the nurses called to let me know the patient had gone blind. I was grouchy that day and wasn't having it. I went in with a rolled up piece of paper. I checked his pupils. I used a Snellen. I went through the whole rigmarole.
Then when I was talking to his mother, without looking, I threw the paper at him hard and fast. He yelped and dodged it. I told his mom, who I think influenced her son's behavior, that they were going home.
To be honest, I still feel a little guilty about it, but I don't know what was the right thing to do."
"I am a firefighter and we have quite a few calls about people faking medical problems. The most obvious call that I have ever been on when someone was faking was a woman that looked to be in her 20s and she was wasted. The first call we had was about 1 pm.
We arrived on scene to this woman having 'seizures,' but we could easily tell she wasn't because she was making direct eye when we were talking to her and she was even responding to our questions while she was having one of her episodes. We never come out and say that a patient is faking, but we do ask if they are pretending to have seizures, and if they say no, we do our best to try and make them go to the hospital. Well, this woman and her family all said that they will just keep her home and watch her, and if it happened again, they would just take her to the hospital.
We had another call from the same address about three hours later for the same 'female having seizures.' So we arrived on scene again, kind of ticked off since she woke us up for having pretend seizures again. When we walked back in the house, she was on the floor again, flopping around like a fish in a sea of all different kind of bottles.
This time, she got an attitude with us when we asked her if she was really having a seizure and we weren't having any of it. My captain got on the radio and called to have a deputy come out and assist us with dealing with the crazy wasted lady. When the deputy pulled up in the driveway a few minutes later, the lady was up running around screaming at everyone because she said that we aren't giving her all the medications that we are supposed to give her. Long story short, she was told she could either go with the deputy to jail or she could go with the ambulance. She said that she would rather go with the ambulance.
When we got the stretcher brought inside for her, she started saying that it was all a joke and that we needed to get off her property, but she then got into one of the paramedics face and started screaming swears at her so we all got a hold of her and put her on the stretcher and then strapped her down with all the straps that we had just to keep her still. The deputy said that we better take her to the hospital just to get checked out so that is what we did and she screamed and cursed at the paramedics all the way there."
"We had a patient at our primary care clinic who claimed to be blind. He always came in with sunglasses and a white cane, but we were always suspicious. Something definitely seemed off.
One day, someone followed him out of the building. He walked through our nearly empty parking lot, and down the street a little ways to a car parked out of view of the clinic. He folded up his cane, got into the driver’s seat, merged into traffic, and drove away.
"I am an x-ray tech, and when I was a student, these two people came in - a man who was pushing a woman on a wheelchair with an ankle boot. They both looked like junkies. They came in with an order for an ankle x-ray. They asked if she had to take off the boot and I said yes because obviously it would superimpose on the anatomy. She all of a sudden started crying, saying that it was too painful. But there were no tears. The man said she broke her ankle in three places some time ago and her ankle became curved whenever she took off the boot off. Okay, dude.
Ankle x-rays are easy - take off your shoes and socks, three views, and boom, you're done. But no, this lady said she couldn't get on the exam table and she needed people to hold her ankle together. We literally had four x-ray techs working this HIGH PROFILE case. One to hold the digital cassette, one to hold her ankle in place, one to hold THE CHAIR we HAD to put her ankle on, and one to push the button to shoot. We did this all while she was screaming in pain and she even said, 'KILL ME PLEEEEEAAASSSEE...'
The funny thing? All the x-rays showed no abnormal findings. No old fractures, no pins or plates from any previous surgeries. Literally, it was a perfectly intact ankle.
They wanted painkillers for sure. They looked like addicts and had a plan to get more."
"My grandma used to work with a lady at a hospital, funny enough, that would always say she got an on the job injury and needed to take a few weeks of workman's comp. A doctor there would somehow always give her a note and she would get a free week or two of vacation, come back for a month, and do it again, obviously milking the system.
One day her boss said, 'Ok, but there's nothing for you to do here on light duty. Usually we'd send you home until you're better but we're going to have you come in until you're better.'
The lady said, 'But there's nothing for me to do!'
He told her, 'I know, bring a magazine or something. It'll be a long day sitting in the break room.'
She lasted two days and never pulled that stunt again."
"It wasn't super obvious at first, but after looking into her records it became clear:
So this happened a few months ago on my psychiatry rotation in medical school.
There was a patient at an inpatient psychiatric facility for suicidal ideation. She constantly insisted that she had a mass on her chest and demanded to be physically examined only by male doctors. When the psychiatrist I was rotating under declined to perform a physical exam, she asked me to do it during my daily patient interview. I also declined physical exam, but had a bit of a hunch to check her medical records.
It turned out she had an ultrasound done a week before that found only normal tissue without masses. However, apparently this this lady had frequented many doctor's offices with various complaints of an unspecific nature and would usually focus on her chest or private part complaints when she visited male physician's offices.
We diagnosed her with factitious disorder and histrionic personality disorder. It seemed her goal was mostly attention from medical professionals (she had lots of issues), but we also had to be careful to make sure she wasn't fishing for a lawsuit. Patients like her are why doctors document everything meticulously."
"My mom had a 'frequent flyer' at the emergency room where she worked. This lady was constantly in unimaginable pain over everything. She got a splinter in her finger and that constituted a 10 on the pain scale and she needed painkillers to deal with it. She was a known substance abuser as well. She had been caught stealing needles and shoving them up under her huge sweaty chest. The only reason my mom found out was because she came back in to place the EKG pads, and to do so, she had to lift her chest up to place the pad. When she did, the needles rolled out.
From that point on, they had to have a member of security watching her any time a nurse or doctor left the room. She also had a massive arrest record, and there were times the cops would bring her to the ER instead of an ambulance."
"I was a combat medic in the army where faking an illness or injury is extremely common. But I always gave it a pass because unlike any other job anywhere else, getting a 'sick day' is nearly impossible in our line of work. At least in my unit. So if you came in with a fake cough or told me you had the runs, I would tell our PA to give you two days of bed rest. He didn't care and did whatever the line medics asked him to do.
The real crazy stuff is from people who you know are faking and trying to get out on a medical discharge. These are almost always people in their second enlistment because after four or five years in the Army, they know how the system works. We had a fellow medic do this all the time. He was a former Navy corpsman who reenlisted in the Army as a medic. He was also a real jerk. He schmoozed with the right people in the platoon so no one never knew where he was half the time. Usually, he was sitting at his house on base playing Xbox with his wife. Personally, I'm under the assumption that he reenlisted solely to fake a service connected injury so he could get out with full disability.
We were an infantry unit about a year out from a deployment to Iraq when this guy showed up. One day, we were holding some training for the Joe's using CPR dummies. Some of these dummies were over 150 pounds and were used to simulate carrying dead weight. We were moving them around the area when we heard a crash from the other room followed by a loud scream. We rush in and Navy Corpsman was sitting there holding his arm and wincing like he got hit by truck. He made up some vague story about pulling a muscle when the dummy fell or something like that.
For the next month or so, this guy would walk around with his arm (right arm) held out bent at the elbow (L shaped) with his palm up and his hand frozen like a claw. Imagine your arm in a sling but twist the hand into a claw and hold it palm up and you get the idea. It was hilarious. One day, he gave my buddy a ride in his car and he used his good hand to put his clawed hand on the shift between the seats and used his good hand to pull that hand so he could put it into gear.
I'm laughing just thinking of my buddy laughing as he told me this story over drinks later that night. This guy milked that injury for everything it was worth. His fake injury gave him the perfect excuse to just goof off. He would say things like, 'I'm at the hospital,' or 'I have an appointment with orthopedics,' or some other story like that. He eventually did get his medical discharge, which meant he had another reason to goof off because he had all sorts of appointments with the discharge people. And the rest of the platoon was too busy getting ready for a combat deployment to babysit him.
I always figured that if someone is in the military and wants out, it's better to give them the boot. Keep them in and all it does is mess with morale because all they do is complain. You get an older guy doing this, it puts bad thoughts into the younger guys' heads. Get em' outta' here. I don't care.
The only thing that bugs me about this guy is that I know that this dude used every piece of knowledge he had, which was actually pretty considerable, to get more disability than dudes who got were actually injured in combat during our deployment."
"When I wanted to be a physical therapist, I volunteered at one of my local clinics. We had a lady who claimed she was in excruciating pain. She couldn’t walk more than five feet without screaming in pain. She couldn’t even move her toes without yelling profanities. She kept talking about how her meds ran out and needed more. She also started talking about how her whole family thought she was an addict, but she swore wasn’t.
I started feeling for her a little, she seemed nice and like she was going through some mess.
But then once the doctor walked out of the room, we got to talking about music. I told her my uncle was in a bluegrass band and she mentioned how much she LOVED bluegrass.
She loved it so much that the prior weekend, she and her husband spent 14 hours at a festival. She was tired from carrying chairs around and dancing. And they were traveling to go to another one the day after her appointment.
When I asked her if she had any pain during the festival, she said, 'Oh, none at all. It was a fantastic weekend,' and then realized she gave herself up and got real quiet."
"I’ve worked at a hospital for about a year and I’ve only had two cases where I knew a patient was faking it.
The first one was a young male patient who had an abscess under his arm and demanded inpatient treatment (he did not, I don’t know why he was admitted). He refused to let a nurse put in an IV, so we had to call rapid response to put in an IV using their ultrasound (complete waste of resources, we use this for patients who are old with poor veins).
I took him to the shower and he said he was dizzy, so I walked him to bed with the belt on and this man DROPPED. It was totally a fake fall from the way he fell to his side to protect himself from belly flopping the floor. Then he faked being unresponsive. We called the response team again and the fall team to come and assess.
This patient faked three falls in the week he was in the hospital, and he was a complete waste of a bed and resources. He was telling me he was a medical assistant but now he was on disability, which was a red flag.
Surprise, surprise, he was back a few months later with the same issue. And surprise, surprise, he fell twice more during his stay. The house doctor started charting that they were purposeful and so they didn’t count toward for floor fall count.
Another time, I had female patient who came in with 'pseudo-seizures' as she called them. She literally said she had fake seizures. Ok. So she 'seized' in the room. The response team was already on the floor, so they came and checked it out.
This woman didn't even jerk right, she looked like she was grinding or doing the worm in the bed. The nurse picked up her arm above her head and she guarded, so it was definitely fake. That, and she had no postictal phase (when people seize, it takes them a little while to come back down to earth). She just sat up and whined that she was in pain. She crapped the bed... on purpose to show me she was in pain and the PA refused to order her the dilauded she was asking for. She asked someone to help her up out of bed to the bathroom but I popped into the room and told her, 'Because your seizures are so unpredictable, there’s no way we can get you up without the risk of her seizing again. Bedpan it is.'"
"I did in-home health care for my neighbor who was a quadriplegic. She basically needed everything done for her from scratching her face to going to the bathroom because she couldn't move her arms or legs.
Her medical history was inconsistent, to say the least. She was a child when the supposed injury happened, but the paralysis didn't set in until her early 30s, which made me very curious. She also had feeling in her body and I caught her wiggling her toes and fingers a few times.
I did some digging and found out that her quadriplegia was actually a last ditch effort to get sympathy from divorce lawyers when her husband left her. She went from walking when the papers were served to a wheelchair when the trial came around. She was so dedicated to the scam that her muscles actually atrophied and she became a 'real' quad.
Now she gets sympathy wherever she goes and can play the disabled card whenever she doesn't get what she wants. You become a good manipulator when your mouth is the only thing you can move."
"I was finishing up my EMT training this past November and was doing ride time. This was my last day of ride time, I only needed a few more patient contacts, and we were coming to the end of a 13-hour shift. We went out to one of the busier areas for a wreck but another truck ended up taking the call so we started to turn around but then immediately got another call for another wreck in about the same area.
The two women were at a stop light and it had just turned green and they literally just started going. Couldn’t have been going more than 5 mph because they only moved like 10 feet. One lady rear-ended the other and they both pulled off into the median. The lady who got rear-ended started complaining that her neck and back hurt, so the other one called for an ambulance. We got there and go to the lady with the neck pain who is still sitting in her car. We asked her all the basic assessment questions and she was moving her head around freely the entire time. She said it just hurt when you touch it.
These cars didn’t even have paint transfer or any sort of damage. There was no way this lady was actually hurt. But obviously we couldn't say anything. We just put a neck brace on and load and go.
I felt so bad for the girl that rear-ended her, she was freaking out thinking she actually hurt that woman."