In med school, most doctors are made to take the Hippocratic Oath, a creed to ethically and fairly treat all patients to the best of their abilities. But what happens when the patients are a little less than bright or maybe just stupid?
In these stories, doctors, nurses, and specialists share the dumbest patients they've had. These doctors probably took the Oath in good faith, but I doubt Hippocrates prepared them for these morons.
"So I'm still a student, but a professor of mine once told me about a patient complaining about pain of her lower belly and genitals. He took his speculum to check it out and saw a ridiculous amount of pus and a bunch of strings. Pulling them out one at a time, he realized there was a solid dozen old tampons in her.
She was confused because it said biodegradable on the box."
"I'm a postpartum nurse. This isn't so much weird as sad, but I've never forgotten it. I had a patient ask me, 'Do you ever feel like everyone is watching you and judging you?' I told her yes, I suppose everyone feels that way sometimes. Then she said, 'And when you feel that way, don't you just need a little coke?' To which I answered 'um, no,' while thinking 'if I did, would I tell you?'
Also, she kept fiddling with her plain fluid IV to make it run faster. I'm pretty sure she thought there was something in it. I had to put it on a pump. The people judging her were her parents. Who had custody of her children. Because she was engaged to a man who violated one of them. After I found that out, I kind of judged her, too."
"I worked for a while in an inner city clinic. Had a patient once who came in by ambulance with a sore throat. On questioning he had been to the out of hours general practitioner (this was about 1 am), which happened to be co-located to our clinic about 10 yards down a corridor, about an hour earlier.
The general practitioner had diagnosed pharyngitis so sent home with advice. Please note he had managed to drive himself to and from the hospital for this appointment. On asking what made him think he needed an ambulance to get him here not 60 minutes later, he said 'I wanted a second opinion and it's cold outside so I didn't want to drive.'
I must have stood there open-mouthed at the sheer lack of insight into his answer for a good minute before suggesting that it was perhaps a misuse of scarce resources to call an ambulance.
He didn't take this well. He spat in my face and as I was reeling from that took a swing at me, missing my face by a whisker. Luckily I am not a small guy and basically had to pin him onto a trolley until security arrived. He never got that second opinion, but enjoyed a night in a police cell for his trouble, and our hospital's first ASBO (anti-social behavior order) against a patient."
"A woman comes in after having a baby and tells us she's having trouble nursing. I book her an appointment at a clinic, give her some resources. Her appointment was fine, and she went on her merry way. A few weeks later, we get 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 morbidly obese. She must have gain 100 pounds on an already obese frame. She's developed numerous 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 nursing, she says yes. We ask how she's getting the extra calories for the nursing, and she tells us the Clinic told her to eat a bowl or two 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 a couple 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 after 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.'
Yeah. Turns out she didn't know plain rolled oats were a thing. She thought the clinic meant plain oatmeal cookies. She was eating an entire package of Dad's 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."
"I've had quite a few rather interesting patients, but one in particular still stands out.
I was in my final year of med school, on my Musculoskeletal rotation, working in the hospital outpatient clinics. I'd read the file for the patient I was about to see, and there were a few yellow flags, but nothing bad enough to prevent me from treating him.
Anyway, I called the guy's name in the waiting room, and was greeted with one of the oddest looking people I've ever seen. This guy was at least 6'5, thin as a rake, balding on the crown with long, very thin, wispy white blond hair down to his shoulders. He was wearing a pink, sequin crop top, flared, but too short, jeans, crocs, and had a massive, zebra striped, full length fur coat. He looked like the ringleader for that crazy band The Darkness.
Anyway, this guy comes in, and I start going through my subjective with him. He's got a neck injury, but he's pretty vague on exactly what happened. Halfway through my subjective, he stops me and asks 'Did you hear the moon last night?' I asked him to repeat what he'd said again, assuming that I'd misheard him. Nope. 'Did you hear the moon last night?' I replied that I hadn't. He proceeded to tell me about how the moon had previously told him to cause the fairly recent Christchurch earthquakes, and that it wanted him to do it again, but he wasn't sure because it hadn't gone over all that well last time.
I managed to move past that, and got into my objective. He had some restricted range in his upper cervical spine, and complained of some grinding, which was consistent with his older x-rays (basically fairly significant degenerative changes to his upper cx spine). I showed him a few exercises and stretches to be doing, which he was fine with, but he kept insisting that I manipulate his neck.
At the time, I wasn't really up to manipulating anyone's neck, as a physio student, but I certainly wasn't going to be doing it to someone who was convinced that the moon was talking them into creating natural disasters. Eventually he started getting a little agitated with my refusal, and when I refused again, he replied 'You can't stop me, I'm too powerful!'
He kept repeating this every time I refused. At that point, my supervisor finally decided to intervene, and basically sent him away.
I've still never had a stranger patient; and I never did figure out how his being too powerful was supposed to lead into my inability to refuse to manipulate his neck."
"I work in radiation oncology and one of our docs had a patient come in for a consult for low grade prostate cancer. We got everything ready for his treatment, and the day before treatment starts, he cancels. And we never hear from him.
A year later he shows up with much higher grade prostate cancer and is heavily tanned. Like leather handbag wrinkly and tanned. He decided to treat with 'natural' radiation therapy, i.e. sat in the sun for 8 hours a day for several months. Right. Now he's got a prostate the size of a grapefruit and is high risk for melanoma."
"An older lady was brought into the ED barely conscious 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 prior to passing out. The doctor sat the husband down and they went over her medical history. No serious medical problems and she was very fit. In fact, she spent the morning cleaning her sons bar, as she often did on a Sunday morning. Considering her age they took these symptoms very seriously and begun 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 really 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."
"I have to say the dumbest patient I had was not a patient but the patient's mother. This child, I want to say she was about 7 years old or so, was tested for meningitis because she had the symptoms. After any lumbar puncture, you HAVE to stay lied down, completely, 180 degrees. No inclinations. For a few hours. And drink a lot of liquids to counter act the massive migraine that comes as a side effect to the procedure. Pretty standard stuff.
Welp, this special ray of sunshine whose daughter I had to care for, asked me 2 questions, 2 very important questions. 1. Where are the straps? Me, of course, being a confused nursing student ask her 'What straps?' To which she replies, 'The straps so my baby won't fall down? You know, you have to keep her upside down now so she doesn't leak all her back fluids?'
This...lady...thought we had to hang her child upside down like a freaking curing salami to prevent fluids from a very small puncture from leaking...
At this point you're thinking: Well its simple right? Just tell her how it works. Believe me I did...result? 'You're not a doctor! You're an idiot that couldn't get into med school and you aren't even a graduate! You're going to kill my daughter!' she shouted.
Thankfully her scandal drew attention of several staff, including a couple of doctors who proceeded to explain to her EXACTLY what I did. She proceeded to feign ignorance and say that I didn't tell her this stuff when I spent a good chunk of time explaining it in detail to her as to why she needed to stay lied down and even offered water to her daughter. Her 7 year-old was more afraid of her mother than the needle she took to the back, which she said didn't even hurt. Seriously, that gal was made of steel.
So, in the end I learned two things: 1. You can't fix stupid, no matter how much you try to educate it and 2. Get help when this level of dumb happens. More than one person telling them the same thing generally helps subdue stubborn rage. Generally.
Needless to say I absolutely hate pediatric nursing and not even because of the kids, they are super fun, but how insane the parents get. They act like bigger spoiled children than the kids you care for."
"A secretary buzzes back to me that there's a call on line two that needs medical advice. I pick it up and one of our patient's mother is on the phone having a panic attack. She is hyperventilating into the phone. I asked her if she was alright, thinking maybe she needed an ambulance, and through her breaths and now tears, she starts telling me that she thinks her four year old son has a skull fracture.
I ask if he fell. No.
I ask if he's conscious. Yes.
I ask if he's breathing. Yes.
I ask if he is bleeding from his ears, eyes, nose, mouth, scalp. No.
I ask if there is any visible wound. No.
I ask why she thinks he fractured his skull. Because underneath his eyes is red and puffy and Google says that's a skull fracture.
I tell her to go to the ER for proper assessment (we don't do MRIs, X-rays, CT Scans). She doesn't want to. She says she was supposed to take her kids to the beach. Mind you, she is still crying and breathing heavy at this point. I tell her to come right over then but warned her we would probably have to send her to the ER.
She shows up 15 minutes later, cradling the child and crying. The little boy was crying too and screaming 'I don't want to die Mommy!' She kept hushing him and saying 'Mommy loves her strong boy, no matter what!' This only made him cry harder.
I pull her back into the room, and she just dissolves as she tells me how she looked at him in horror this morning and saw the guarantee signs of a skull fracture. She swears he must have hit his head yesterday at swim practice.
The little boy is crying hard but I can see the noticeable swelling and pinkness under the eyes that she was referring too. I went to get the doctor and told her what I thought. She went in, came out about ten minutes later shaking her head. She had the same diagnosis.
You know when you wipe your eyes after swimming, you usually wipe under your eye too? The kid must have wiped off his sunscreen around his eyes the day before. All the pinkness and puffiness was from a mild sunburn under his eyes."
"I was working at an Indian services clinic a few years ago. We prescribe a guy Flonase (nasal spray primarily for allergies) which starts a conversation:
Guy: Will this nasal spray give me anxiety like the last one I had?
Me: This shouldn't cause anxiety, let me check your chart to see what it was you had before.
I start trying to find which medication he had been prescribed previously but he says: 'I just threw it away in the trash out front, do you want me to go grab it?'
Me: 'No, that's OK, it will be in your chart and I won't make you go rummage through the trash.'
Unfortunately, I don't see any evidence of this dude ever having another nasal spray. And at this point he insists that he is going to grab it from the trash. He grabs exam gloves from the box on the table (smart move, weirdo) and leaves the room. I can't stop him.
He comes back a few minutes later with an albuterol inhaler. I'm perplexed.
'Can you tell me how you use that, you don't need to actually show me, since that came from the trash.'
Dude tries his hardest to shove the opening (meant for your MOUTH) into his nostril, gives it a squirt and a snort.
So yeah...we talked about the difference between nasal spray and an inhaler...I hope he learned."
"Had a patient who was coming back post lap band for a check up. What we usually do is revise the patient's weight, etc 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 (ex: lose ten pounds) 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 an 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.
I was speechless.
She was serious. Somehow it didn't occur to her that this wouldn't be healthy. We reversed her band."
"As a fourth year medical student I spent a few weeks at the OBGYN department. I got to sit in at a fertility clinic and saw a couple (aged early 20s) that had been referred to a consultant by their doctor as they had not conceived following 14 months of trying. Their doctor had initially suspected polycystic ovarian syndrome as the lady was morbidly obese and had some additional body hair. Her ultrasound and hormone levels however showed no evidence of this.
So the consultant proceeded to ask them how often they did the deed, whether they were monitoring for signs of ovulation. He then asked when they last had tried to conceive and the husband proudly stated, 'About two hours ago.' They both commented on their excellent love life and the husband was asked to produce a sample. He left the room and the consultant called in a nurse as a chaperone, so he could examine the wife and it is at this point that it became clear what the problem was.
The woman was so fat that there were several folds of fat over her genital area. Within these folds there was a pouch with a significant amount of gravy. When her genitals was eventually visualized, (with help of the nurse pushing down on the layers of fat) it became clear her hymen was intact with a very small opening.
Therefore, what they thought was doing the act was instead him releasing into the folds of fat without ever entering her."
"This is my dad's favorite story to tell, he's worked in ER for 30 years. Sometime in the mid 90s he was working in triage, the first medical person you talk to when you go into ED, a mother with three kids came in and stated they all needed to be seen. He asked what the issue was. They were in a grocery story the day before and accidentally got sprayed by water in the produce section. They weren't getting sick. They didn't have rashes. They got sprayed by water 24 hours before and she took them to the Emergency Room."
"Called out for possible overdose and what we found when we got there was an amazing attempt for the Darwin Award. Lady was melting down pills and injecting them into her external jugular vein. Her thought process probably went something like this: 'Well, you tie a tourniquet when you shoot up in your arms. Why wouldn’t you do it for the neck?'
So she had a tourniquet tied around her neck when we got there. The people she was with didn’t think to remove it. She hadn’t OD'd. Just passed out from lack of oxygen."
"Dentist here. In school, I had a 70-year-old patient who was still in the dating game and looked like that old lady who just died who played the Jeanie, Joan Rivers.
She's got a ton of acid erosion on her teeth. Tells me she drinks on 3-O water. Didn't know what was in it. We look it up on Google. It has a pH of 3. All of her water. Plus, she likes to put lemons in her water. I tell her this is also acidic. She tells me I'm wrong, because her friend who took a few nutrition classes said that as soon as the lemon juice gets into the body, it turns basic.
I told her I had a biochemistry degree... And that was wrong.
Also, her blood pressure is super high every visit. She tells me that she stopped taking her blood pressure medications because she thought they were unhealthy. I tell her that the method is not working at all.
A few weeks later, she strokes out and never gets out of a wheelchair again."
"This mid twenties prick broke his jaw getting in a bar fight. Told him that smoking is not good but especially not good with a fracture. The little moron snuck smokes into his room and lit them anyhow. In the hospital. Then denied it and when finally admitting to it he threw the pack into the nurse's face.
Mandibular fractures like his also require you to have clear foods both before and after the jaw is wired shut. If not, food particles can get into the bone causing infection or necrosis. Despite having this explained multiple times he would constantly complain at how we were starving him. He actually asked 'But can't I put some McDonald's into a blender and drink it?!' It really highlighted his classiness.
Then when it came time for surgery we had to wire his jaw shut and nasally intubate him. We gave him some numbing agents first because it isn't comfortable. Obviously lubricant down your nose isn't great either but it is tolerable. Apparently not for him though. 'You're a prick!' he said ....sigh. And to top it off he had a tattoo above his pubes insinuating a large johnson. Trust me, it was anything but (we had to put a catheter in his bladder).
Anyhow. Major prick. Felt bad for his mom who was embarrassed and continuously apologized for her bratty son."
"My friend is a pediatrician, and specializes in the care of children with ADHD.
An 18-year-old came in for his medication check and refill. He told the doc that he only uses his Ritalin before a test so he could have an 'edge.' He doesn't need the Ritalin for anything else. The doctor refused to refill his medication, on the grounds that it didn't appear he had ADHD and was just abusing the Ritalin for personal gain.
The next day, his mother came and started to demand to see the doc. She was Korean. When the doc sat with her, she started yelling at him telling him that if he didn't prescribe the Ritalin, she would sue him. She said that her son needs the Ritalin since he just got into med-school (a special six-year program in Ohio), and she wanted to be sure he did well on his tests. The doctor told her that he didn't feel comfortable prescribing a controlled medicine like Ritalin to someone who was using it just for an edge during exams. She kept yelling. The doc eventually told her to go find another doc."