Going to the hospital can be an emotional ride. Some people are overdramatic while others are stoic in the face of pain. Regardless of experiences though, these doctors and patients share their fake and most overly overdramatic hospital stories.
A Truly American Hospital Experience
“Not a patient, but a family. Third-year of my residency in Emergency Medicine, we get to lead the trauma bay (with extremely immediate supervision of course). Since we advance ranks in July, my first shift happened to fall on July 4th, a holiday well known in EDs everywhere for being a special mix of drinks and fireworks. We got an alert that EMS was bringing a coding patient who had been shot. Now, if a patient with penetrating trauma loses pulse before the hospital, the odds are dire, but it later turned out this patient had no vitals even on EMS arrival (they realistically died before the ambulance arrived) but the commotion on scene was such that EMS decided to extricte and transport rather than call it on scene.
Patient arrives, clearly already having bled out. We went through the usual motions looking for anything fixable and I called the code. Then, I went to the family room to break the news. This is a skill that is carefully taught. Assemble the family. Sit down. Make introductions. Find out what they know. Get a sense for how they speak, so you can match them. Be empathetic but also very concrete. Answer questions.
I had a grouping of four family members and I did all the things and it went ok. Then, over the next 15 minutes, another 20 family member trickled in, festooned in red, white, and blue, largely quite wasted, and they yelled the news to each other out of my control, and as each one joined the room it got wilder. People not only cried, but they screamed.
Soon, an aunty was vomiting in the corner. Two small kids were ignored, wide-eyed off to one side. A grown adult man actually lay on the floor and kicked himself around in circles like Homer Simpson.
I’ve never seen anything else like it, before or since.”
This Is A Hospital, Not Maury
“We were doing paternity testing for an apparently extremely acrimonious case of ‘Your son impregnated my daughter!’ ‘No he didn’t, your daughter sleeps with lots of other boys!’
Each side sent a lawyer to the appointment. Each lawyer had their phone out recording, and followed the blood and cheek swabs from the collection, through the lab for DNA extraction, performing the test in our PCR room, and watching me analyze the data files which is exactly as boring as it sounds…
It’s like dude, we’re the neutral third-party lab here. We have literally zero interest in the outcome of the case, you don’t need to be so dramatic. All the chain of custody stuff is documented. We have a second observer signing off on sample IDs. We’re not going to risk losing our license by accepting a bribe from either set of parents.
OK, since you want to know that badly, yes he was the father. That’s usually the outcome of paternity testing cases like this since usually, the girl has a pretty good idea before the test who she slept with. The whole Mama Mia thing where someone does three guys in one night or deliberately lies about the father right before being tested isn’t as common as talk shows and TV court dramas lead people to think.”
“Hi Mom. I Cut My Finger Off!”
“Obligatory not a doctor, but I got a call from my son’s school nurse when he was in 2nd grade, and the conversation went like this:
Nurse sounding upbeat & cheerful says, ‘your son wants to tell you his terrible news.’
Son gets on the phone, says ‘Hi mom, I cut my finger off.’
I ask him, ‘Where is your finger now?’
Son: ‘I put it back on.’
I said, ‘Can I talk to the nurse?’
Nurse gets on the phone again, says, ‘Sounds serious, right?’ I asked, ‘does he have a substitute teacher today?’
Ahhhhh… yes. I told the nurse to let him know I will take him to the hospital for a shot for his finger, to which he says ‘I think it’s OK. I glued it on really good.’
The nurse kept him in the office for a bit to talk about scary changes in the classroom.”
This Guy Was A Great Actor
“I worked in the ER with this one doc, we had a guy come in ‘unresponsive’ with his girlfriend. Per the girlfriend, they had both eaten a weed brownie and then when they didn’t feel anything ate two more (big mistake). She was hysterical and convinced he was dying, kept wanting us to send him to surgery (and do what?). The dude would not respond to anything but was absolutely fine. Doc ordered like 2Ls of saline IV, turned to me, and said we’ll see if he’s dedicated to this bit enough to pee himself. Sure enough half an hour later and my man is up and at ’em and sprinting to the restroom.
Another time I was working at a rural ER and this lady comes in with her husband complaining of abdominal pain. Doc swears he’s seen her before and I pull up her prescription history and she’s one of those people who just bounce around trying to get an opiate script from anyone. We hit her with a IV but lo and behold it’s ‘not even touching the pain and I have a very high pain tolerance.’
Sure you do sweetie.
‘My friend told me that d medicine works, Dilaudid or something?’
Sure she did.
‘I think it’s because I haven’t pooped in like a week.’
Doc goes well we can’t give you any Dilaudid because that would make your constipation worse, but if it doesn’t get any better we can try a manual disimpaction. Silence. Husband goes ‘Oh no she don’t like nothing in her butt believe me.’
She took a trip to the bathroom and was magically better. Had me rolling. If you’re trying to game the system, don’t use constipation as your go-to, try a kidney stone or something. I think that’s the only thing I’ve ever seen work. The dude came in claiming a history of kidney stones with symptoms, posture, affect all consistent with kidney stone presentation. In a patient like that you hit them with the pain meds first because kidney stones are indeed torturously painful, so that’s what we did. Ultrasound and CT both come back negative for calculus. My doc was livid but to his credit, the dude was a great actor.”
“I Didn’t Mean To Kill My Children”
“I worked in the dementia unit of a nursing home for 6 months. On my first day there was a woman there who had previously been in a mental hospital, and when I went to go talk to her, she points out the window and says ‘See those kids out there? Aren’t they beautiful?’ There were no kids, but I went along with it. Then she goes ‘I didn’t mean to burn them. I didn’t mean to kill my children.’
A couple of weeks later I had a man that was COMPLETELY covered in feces. This happens often in dementia units, and a lot of the men are too embarrassed to let you clean them up. I hadn’t learned this yet and was technically still training, and this man was too big for me to help him on my own. A more experienced Aide came in with me, and he got so mad that we were trying to help him that he tried to deck me in the jaw, but I ducked and he started choking the girl next to me.
Another woman would sit in the corner of the dining facility with a cup of coffee and a box of tissues. She’d start to line up every tissue perfectly, then start screaming that she needed help. She’d start banging her coffee cup on the table, then when you asked her what was wrong she wouldn’t know what she wanted, but wouldn’t let you get her food either. She yelled at everyone and would get extremely violent. (She threw hot tomato soup at me, pulled my hair, pinched and twisted every part of me she could reach, punched and kicked)
My last week working there, a woman fell out of her wheelchair to the floor and was passed out (I forgot what happened to cause that) and a bunch of aides rushed to try and help her. She’d gone into a seizure, and the nurses tried to sedate her afterward because she was violent with everyone and in danger of hurting herself. When I was called in to help, I was told to hold her down on a bed because she kept finding ways to get cuts all over her body. I couldn’t hold her down at all, this woman had brute strength, even after all the sedatives.
Needless to say, every time I came home from that job, I would be covered in excrement, bodily fluids, bruises, food, and cuts, even teeth marks.
I now sell frozen yogurt. Haha”
They Couldn’t Believe What They Found After The C-Section
“This is actually a pretty interesting case, so I wish I had gotten to this thread before this comment gets buried.
My dad, an OBGYN, told me about this, but he wasn’t directly involved with the case. A pregnant woman came in to a gynecology practice and she was clearly already very far along; by visual, she was at least 8 months. She supposedly hadn’t seen any doctors up until this point, so ignoring the extreme irresponsibility of this woman, the doctors proceeded care. They ran some tests on her and she checked off all the boxes for the most part. Everything seemed right as rain.
They finished up with an ultrasound, and this is where things got weird. They had trouble making out a picture of the fetus, which on its own is not that unusual. High levels of gas can disrupt the ultrasound machine. What really concerned the doctors was that they couldn’t detect a heartbeat. The woman insisted that she should be induced so that the doctors can maybe save the child if something is wrong that they can’t see.
The doctors agree and send her over to the hospital. After hours upon hours of attempts to induce labor with no results, the doctor suggests a C-section. The woman agrees, so they begin the process. They popped her with an epidural and begin operation. They delicately cut into the uterus and…
There was no baby. She wasn’t pregnant.
How? She had the full baby belly. She passed pregnancy tests. She showed all of the hormones that pregnant women produce. It made no sense.
It is a very very rare condition called Pseudocyesis. It is essentially a phantom pregnancy. You show all of the real symptoms of pregnancy… but you’re not pregnant. I suppose that would fit in with overdramatic patients, huh?”
A Self-Proclaimed Faker
“Not a doctor, but someone who successfully faked being ill.
I was 14-years-old and afraid of swimming class, so one day I swallowed a lot of air right before. Told the teacher that my stomach hurt and that I was dizzy. Was sent to the doctor who diagnosed me with stomach flu and sent me home. The key here was, that I was truthful about the symptoms, and that swallowing air leads to a lot of movement and sound in the intestines.
Sometime later it turns out I was right to be afraid of swimming class (and my karate classes), as it turns out I had undiagnosed asthma caused by physical exertion. Highlights caused by it were: My PE teacher in the swimming class shouting at me at the top of her lungs to ‘get the fuck out of the water’ (i was starting to turn blue), and my Karate sensei telling me that I was ‘cold to the touch’ after an extremely exhausting warm-up which should make anyone sweat like no tomorrow. My sensei then told me that this was extremely dangerous (asthma ->, not enough oxygen -> body concentrates blood flow to internal organs to provide them with oxygen -> heat is not dissipated and instead concentrated to internal organs).
After that, I was diagnosed with my asthma and things improved massively.”
He Felt Like An Idiot After His Diagnosis
“I woke up and had some really weird symptoms. Namely, a hot sensation on the back of my head and some numbness and tingling on one side of my body. I was also dizzy and disoriented. I talked to my husband and googled the symptoms and we concluded I was probably having a stroke so we called 911.
The EMTs asked if I was inebriated, on substances, or had hit my head, all of which were a resounding ‘No.’ I was still convinced I was having a brain haemorrhage or something so I asked them to take me to the hospital.
After several hours at the hospital, a brain scan and many cognitive tests, I was diagnosed with….vertigo. The doctor could not explain the hot sensation in my head or the numbness, but both subsided eventually with time and all that remained was the dizziness. I felt like such an idiot for wasting time and resources, especially during a global health crisis.”
This Woman Didn’t No Better For Her Dying Parent
“I’m a nurse, and we had a patient recently who was palliative (expected to die naturally). His body functions were only at about 10%, he wasn’t eating or drinking and he wasn’t peeing or defecating any more. He just laid in bed with his eyes closed breathing.
When people get to this point usually the only care we provide is for comfort vs. sparing life. So we dont give people food or water because they are usually unconscious and more likely to choke and be harmed.
This patient’s daughter was some big shot lawyer from the US and when she saw that we werent feeding her dad she started recording everything we did and said to her and then phoned the police. I remember a police officer coming to the unit, asking to speak to me (the most responsible nurse at the time) and asking me why I was withholding food. I explained to the officer that I had physicians orders to withhold food, and that the patient was at a severe aspiration risk. The police officer was like ‘Cool, case closed,’ and left.
The daughter was unfortunately banned from the hospital premises by management for interfering with patient care.”
“My wife is a dentist, like most medical professionals, she has plenty of stories. This one is one of my favorites.
Anyone who has treated kids know that the parents can be worse to deal with than the patient. The clinic pediatrician was on vacay and my wife was on call for emergencies that week. While we were eating dinner, my wife gets called in saying there was a young child (6/7) that messed up her tooth when playing and was in severe pain.
When my wife arrives she finds that the child is pretty chill, but the mom was red in the face with anger. She yelled at my wife for taking so long (we live 5 minutes from the clinic) while her baby is in so much pain. My wife glances at the adorable little girl who said ‘hiii’ then smiles and waves at my wife. Then looks back at the mom who started yelling again ‘SEE!! MY BABY IS IN SO MUCH PAIN!’
My wife calmly let’s the mom know she is here now and will take a look. I’ll spare y’all the long tedious details and cut to the chase, the little girl just knocked out a baby tooth and there was no actual damage anywhere else and wasn’t in any pain.
After my wife is done, she says to the little girl that she will be okay, and that it wasn’t anything major. The little girl was all happy and smiles and says thank you. The mom then steps up and starts up with the shouting again, berating my wife for not doing enough. My wife was beyond frustrated with the mom’s outbursts by this point, but before she could say anything, a little voice spoke up. ‘Mommy, the nice lady says I will get a new tooth, we can go home now.’ It was obvious that this wasn’t the first time the mother did stuff like this.
The mom sputters and eventually relents. My wife does the usual spiel about taking pain meds as needed and to come back if the pain returns. The little girl turned around to say bye to my wife and left. My wife turned to her assistant and just sighed. The young assistant, who had been completely silent up to now, whispered, “wow, that mom was annoying.””
These Folks Are So Extra
“Obligatory not a doctor, but having worked in registration in ERs for five years I have some stories.Most overdramatic was a teenage girl whose mom and boyfriend would bring her in at least once a week. The boyfriend would literally carry this girl in, cradled in his arms, the girl limp and ‘unconscious.’ And the mother would fuss that her daughter needed to be seen immediately. I tried to put on my best customer service face but this woman was nuts. There was never anything wrong with the daughter (not my diagnosis, but verified with the folks in the back who had medical degrees). I wouldn’t put up with mom’s nonsense, her yelling at me and demanding to be seen immediately. I never held back their info or anything, but I calmly explained to her that the emergency room was not first come first serve, that we triage everyone and treat based on emergent status, and the nurses and doctors would see her daughter as soon as they were able. The woman began calling after every visit to complain about my poor attitude. I insisted that I was calm and professional and that my boss should ask the other people on staff if I had done or said anything inappropriate, which of course she didn’t. My boss finally got the hint when once again the mom called in and complained, so my boss caught me to ream me once again as soon as I sat down to begin my shift. I found this odd because I actually hadn’t seen them in a couple weeks. I had seen this family so many times I had their info memorized so I looked up the daughter’s medical record number and politely informed my boss that their most recent visit was on a day I didn’t work, so there is no possible way I had given them an attitude. She finally got off my back about it after that.
She Just Had One Thing On Her Mind
“I’m a nurse on a floor that deals with a lot of chronic and acute pain patients.
The most recent instance was this lady from a few weeks ago that was apparently splitting the Oxycodone we were giving her in half in her mouth and then when the nurse’s backs were turned, she would stuff it in a pill jar. A night nurse caught her in the act and all of her stuff had to be searched. We found 20 half tablets of Oxycodone she had been stashing. She told us that she was ‘saving them for her family in case they need them because it’s just so hard to get an Oxycodone prescription these days.’
I had her a few days after that, and she was having some abdominal pain (STAT x-ray showed only gas. She just really needed to fart.) But she was screaming, claiming it was a 10, and making a huge scene. She DEMANDED Dilaudid through her IV, and she wanted it to be pushed fast. Huge red flag right there. She wanted the high, not the relief. Doc straight up said he wouldn’t give her Dilaudid because she was already on so many opiates. She then demanded Lorazepam, still through her IV of course. Doc was like fine whatever, just one time and only a low-end dose.
I was flushing her IV with normal saline first (to make sure her IV was patent) and she leans back and is like ‘OOOOoooo that’s so much better already.’ Hadn’t even given her the Lorazepam yet.”
They Literally Just Had Gas
“For real though gas pain is no joke. I was once rushed to the hospital, car as I knew I couldn’t afford an ambulance because I was doubled over in pain crying. I thought that something had ruptured or exploded. They weren’t busy at all this night and got me back within 15 minutes of showing up. I don’t like pills. Never have because I know I had an addictive nature when it comes to substances so I just avoid them altogether. So they do their test and scans and the doc comes in and tells me it’s just severe gas buildup. I’m in tears still and ask the doc how the heck can gas cause this much pain and that it’s gotta be something else. Doc says “let me give you something and if that doesn’t work we can try something else” I’m like ok cool because no way gas hurts this much. 30 minutes later I’m in the bathroom like I just spent an hour at taco bell. The doc comes in to check on me when I finally manage a free moment. I can’t help but look dumbfounded. Since they weren’t busy at all he sat down and explained that since I have IBS I need to be more careful with my intake or else this could happen again. All the while I felt like a complete idiot because gas had me in tears. I thanked the doc. He gave me some gas relief pills and suggested some diarrhea meds in case it happens again. I’ve never in my life been so sure it wasn’t something only to be proven wrong.”
Story From A “Faking” Patient
“I’m the ‘faking patient’ in this story but here goes:
Had hernias on my lower stomach, visually visible, but had to go through 18 months of scans, ultrasound, 3D ultrasound, numerous of each, along with standard, awkward prodding from a number of different surgeons.
I couldn’t understand why it took so dang long to get my operation date through, to me it was clear cut hernias -just put some mesh on that stuff and they’re fixed right?
But I just kept being told they’re not hernias, they must be something else as ‘women don’t get hernias in this area, only men get them in that area on the stomach’ Women are supposed to get these hernias lower gown toward our groin or something..? The bumps are likely just ‘abnormally large abdominal muscles.’
This, of course, was all nonsense to me, I’ve been in agony for this whole time, a year and a half, the ‘muscles’ just suddenly appeared one day (as I was coughing my lungs up during a chest infection) as muscles tend to do, they’re not giving me anything for the pain and I eventually put my foot down and said ‘you can f*ing see the hernias on my stomach?! They hurt, I’m no doctor and I know they’re dang hernias, what is the problem?’
I was then told that I’m built like a man and that’s the only reason they could not properly diagnose them as, and I repeat, ‘women don’t get hernias there’
Cool. So, I’m built like a dude is what you’re telling me? You’re not going to acknowledge that you thought I was somehow faking it?
Sweet, I was having a good confidence day, you ruined it nicely doc, thanks.
Anyway, they cut my faking self open and repaired the hernias, that were indeed hernias, once that was done -no more pain. Go figure.”
Gross. Just Gross.
“I’m a paramedic. I got dispatched to a 40-something-year-old male ‘altered level of consciousness.’ No big deal, could be anything and it’s likely nothing. I find a firefighter at the front door looking ill. Never a good sign. As I make it halfway up the stairs the unmistakable stench of feces hits me like a roundhouse. This is thick. The firefighter at the top of the stairs is pale and simply shakes his head in my direction. I reach the hallway at the top of the stairs and turn to the one open door. There is feces everywhere. With no exaggeration, it looks like eight fat broads have been eating Wendy’s chili and painting the room with feces for days. My numb disbelief is shattered by a clearly distressed man’s voice.
‘Why aren’t you guys doing anything?!’
I now am in the doorway and can see the bed. There is an unclothed man on a mattress covered in feces flailing back and forth in his mudbath and mumbling incoherently. What happens next becomes hazy…I vaguely remember exclaiming ‘What the heck’ and searching for someone to take the initiative. At this point let me point out that being a paramedic can suck. My whole job is to get people to a hospital, preferably still alive. This poor poo-covered specimen needs to be lifted/carried/hauled/rolled downstairs onto a gurney and into the ambulance. Stepping forward and frustrated I plea with the patient to please sit up and show me that he’s able to follow directions. Shockingly he shoots upright instantly. In the same instant poo shoots laterally out of his left lower abdomen towards my boots…from what I realize is a colostomy bag hole. Oh my god. I watch it ooze out, turn towards the bathroom and begin to dry heave. The third firefighter has already assumed the position and is blowing chunks in a toilet, which I might add is covered in poop.”