Doctors deal with a countless number of patients and put up with a lot of stuff, but there's always that one patient who stands out amongst the rest for their foolishness.
Below, doctors share stories of the dumbest patient they've ever encountered. Check them out!
(Content has been edited for clarity)
“I had a little boy with very little intestine left after numerous surgeries had removed dead or non-functioning bowel. So he could not eat by mouth or stool out of his rectum, he was fed a high-calorie, highly-nutritious formula through a tube in his stomach, which then went through for absorption, ending into his ileostomy bag.
As you can imagine, it was tough for his body to retain calories nor nutrients, so his growth and development were behind. One day he was brought into the emergency department by his mom because he was dumping too much liquid stool into his bag. He was brought in on a gurney, holding a bag of Cheetos and drinking Pepsi in a baby bottle.”
Wasting Your Breath
“A patient came in with a rash around her mouth; she was going on about how she had it 14 years ago, and the dermatologist prescribed a certain antibiotic to cure it and diagnosed her with ‘perioral dermatitis.’ She’s showing us pictures on Google. Okay.
The doctor diagnoses her with impetigo and prescribes her an antibiotic ointment. She leaves and fills the prescription and comes back flipping her lid. She googled impetigo and, with the help of WebMD, came to the conclusion that it was a children’s disorder on the arms and legs that can only be contracted from children and she wasn’t around children. She insists that what she believes she has perioral dermatitis is a ‘woman’s disorder’ and she doesn’t have this ‘children’s disease.’ She says that the antibiotic he prescribed isn’t on the list of treatments.
The whole time, she’s showing us these pics off google of ‘perioral dermatitis’ saying it’s a woman’s disorder, but half the pictures were of men. Now one thing you should know, perioral dermatitis means rash around the mouth. That’s it. It doesn’t mean anything else. It’s not a type of rash. It’s not only cured by a specific antibiotic. It’s just a rash that happens to be around the mouth. She was furious, shaking with rage and about to start throwing stuff because the doctor wouldn’t prescribe her this certain antibiotic.
The doctor told us to call the cops if she came back. People can be over the top.”
The Oatmeal Lady
“A woman came in after having a baby and tells us she had trouble nursing. I booked her an appointment at a lactation clinic and gave her some resources. Her appointment was fine, and she went on her merry way. A few weeks later, we got 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 obese. She must have put 100 pounds on an already obese frame. She’s developed many 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 feeding, she says yes. We ask how she’s getting the extra calories for the feeding, and she tells us the Clinic told her to eat one to two bowls 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 one to two 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.’
It turns out she didn’t know plain rolled oats were a thing. She thought the feeding clinic meant plain oatmeal cookies. She was eating an entire package of 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.”
The World Warrior
“I had an old man who was sweet but had spent his adult years drinking away whatever brain cells he had left. He presented with a chief complaint of ‘I can’t drink anymore. Every time I drink, I just throw it back up a few minutes later.’
Well, it turns out the old man hadn’t been able to eat actual food in months, was subsisting on pretty much just drinks and hadn’t pooped in over two weeks. But that didn’t bother him a bit… until he couldn’t have any more drinks.
He had a big tumor blocking the distal part of his left colon, and everything gradually got backed up all the way to his stomach. That’s why he couldn’t keep anything down–there was just no more room at the inn.
I fixed him with a colostomy, and he got better and left. He refused chemo, and I figured he’d just go home and die of cancer. But then, almost exactly one year later, he came back to me with just about the same complaint… obstructed to the point of not being able to drink.
Except for this time, it was that his ostomy had essentially retracted into his abdomen.
Even my oldest partners had never seen anything like it, but once again the old man wasn’t remotely fazed. He just wanted us to fix it so he could go home and keep drinking.
I did. Haven’t seen Cooter since. I kind of hope he’s still out there, treating his cancer with drinks.”
Healed In The Waiting Room
“I’m a student, and my General Practice supervisor was involved in a scheme to reduce waiting times by having a GP in the emergency room to take patients that weren’t actually in an accident or an emergency. As none of the patients were actually dangerously ill, I was basically doing the consultations with the doctor supervising, double checking and signing prescriptions.
A guy in his late 20’s walks in, looking very healthy, and sits down.
Guy: ‘I was stung by a bee this morning.’
Guy: ‘On my cheek.’
Me: ‘How long ago was this?’
Guy: ‘Well, it took me about half an hour to get here and then I’ve been waiting another three and a half hours.’
Me: ‘Did it stop you swallowing or breathing?’
Me: ‘Are you allergic?’
Me: ‘What would you like us to do?’
Guy: ‘Check if I’m okay.’
At this point, I turn around to my supervisor attempting to say what do I do here? He says ‘You’re okay, go home.’
It was the most surreal consultation I’ve ever had.”
The Ol’ Cake And Ice Cream Smoothie
“I had a patient who was coming back post lap band for a checkup. What we usually do is revise the patient’s weight, 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 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 the 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.’
Yup. She was serious. Somehow it didn’t occur to her that this wouldn’t be healthy. We reversed her band.”
A Visual Test Will Do
“I don’t have to deal with people patients, but I helped out a vet for a while, and there’s a lot of dumb pet owners.
We had one lady who was concerned about her obese lab getting hiccups. The vet let her know the dog was overweight and she told him he was wrong and then insisted we do diagnostic tests to ‘figure out’ the hiccups.”
“A barely conscious older lady was brought into the emergency department 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 before passing out.
The doctor sat the husband down, and they took a medical history. No serious medical problems and she was very fit. In fact, she spent the morning cleaning her son’s bar, as she often did on a Sunday morning.
Considering her age, they took these symptoms seriously and started 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 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.”
The Lengths People Will Go To
“I had a woman who refused to be discharged as she ‘couldn’t keep any food or drink down.’ Her room was filled to the brink with sweets crisps and fizzy drinks.
I asked her to show me the vomit. She produced a sick bowl she had filled with spit. I pH tested this in front of her (contents of the stomach are acidic). Of course, pH was normal. She then stuck her fingers down her throat and physically forced herself to repeatedly gag and vomit. In front of me.
Next day she returned and said she had blood in her urine. She’d filled a sample pot with red juice. It smelled of fruit.
My boss discharged her that afternoon. She was back within a week I think.”
But You’ll Have An Ugly Scar!
“I religiously go and see my doctor every summer about a mole I have on my back that could have been cancerous when I was younger due to overexposure to the sun which caused it to grow and go black. I go every summer because I’m not allowed to have it exposed to the sun, yet they will not remove it.
If it was so benign, why am I not allowed to tan my body?
The worst excuse I got from a dermatologist was ‘If we laser that off, you could have a scar going through your back tattoo.’
I’d sooner have a scar through a tattoo than melanoma, you idiot.”
“I work in a doctor’s office as a medical office assistant, specifically pediatrics.
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. 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 warn her we will 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 keeps hushing him and saying ‘Mommy loves her strong boy, no matter what!’ Which 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.”
The Cycle Never Stops
“I don’t like speaking ill of my patients mainly because I think we all neglect our health to a certain extent volitionally, and that can be viewed as ‘dumb.’
But the winner is David. David is a 35-year-old highly functional corporate lawyer. David has G6PD deficiency and (in his case) he develops mild hemolysis when exposed to certain foods, including fava beans. Every year for his birthday, David goes to the fancy Greek restaurant and gets gigandes plaki, his favorite dish. Every year he develops mild hemolysis with mild jaundice and dark urine. Every year he comes to see me, his gastroenterologist, urgently and without an appointment on the day after his birthday — yelling at the secretary and other patients if he could be seen first. Every year he repeats his highly anxious concerns that his liver is messed up because he’s mildly jaundiced and has dark urine. Every year I tell him it’s from the gigandes plaki. Every year he resolves never to eat it again and is fine for the rest of the year on his G6PD diet.
And every year on his birthday, he forgets. And then the cycle continues.”
Listen To Your Doctors
“When I was training to become a dentist, I had a 70-year-old patient who was still in the dating game.
She’s got a ton of acid erosion on her teeth. She tells me she drinks on ‘3-O’ water. I didn’t know what was in it, so we looked it up on Google. That’d be a pH of 3. All of her water. Plus, she liked to put lemons in her water. I told her this is also acidic. She told 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 was very high every visit. She tells me that she stopped taking her BP Meds because she thought they were unhealthy. I tell her that her method is not working at all.
A few weeks later, she strokes out and never gets out of a wheelchair again.
I’m friends with her on Facebook now. It’s just sad.”
Just…Take A Shower
“I was translating at a medical clinic once. A father brought in his 20-year old son convinced he had early signs of diabetes since his hair was greasy.
After convincing the doctor that’s what he was there for, we told him to go take a shower and try a different shampoo.”
Pour One Out
“This happened to a friend of mine when he was in training to become a paramedic. He was on a ride along, basically, and they had received a call where a woman fell down the stairs. They get to the address and knock on the door. The woman who called was inside folding clothes.
Apparently, she had been drinking on her medication. Twisted her ankle and called for an ambulance. So they asked her if she wanted to go to the hospital. She says yes, then proceeds to the fridge to poor ‘one more for the road.'”
Put An End To This Madness
“I was a volunteer first aider for ten years. I was on duty at a local judo competition. I was on edge as there was always at least one serious spinal injury. So I was walking around the mats, waiting for the call to rush in and help save someone and this woman starts screaming and crying. I ran over, as fast as I could. Jumping over rows of chairs and ready to help!
She was screaming because her baby’s first tooth had come through and she didn’t know what to do. She asked me to cut out the rest of the teeth so that she didn’t have to deal with teething anymore.
The All-Time Greatest Facepalm
“A woman came in for a baby check with her 6-month-old, and she had what looked like chocolate milk in the baby’s bottle. So I started explaining to her as kindly as I could that she shouldn’t be giving her baby chocolate milk.
At which point she interrupted me and said, ‘Oh that isn’t chocolate milk. It’s coffee! He just loves it!'”
The Cone Of Shame
“We had a pup that was about seven months old admitted for essentially an evisceration. Now while the thought of a small puppy having a giant hole in its stomach and all of the organs spilling out is terrifying, it was preventable.
After the spay, the owners were instructed to leave the ‘cone of shame’ on the puppy at all times if she was not being directly supervised. Well, they didn’t, claiming that it ‘looked like it was hurting her,’ so they took it off and left the house. The puppy promptly licked open her stitches, and from there, it got gruesome.
The worst part is that the owners threatened to sue us because it was our fault that they ignored medical instructions and thusly had to come back in and pay over a grand to have their puppy’s life saved. People are dumb.
The puppy survived, and I see her regularly at our clinic. The stitches were dissolvable, but they don’t instantly do so, hence the cone. We did follow procedure by stating the expenses beforehand to determine if the owners would have to surrender, luckily they were financially stable enough to afford the immediate surgery. Had they surrendered, I’m confident that the puppy would have become mine.”
No Foreign Materials In The Eyes, Please
“I worked in the ER during my internship and met a girl who had increasingly painful and red eyes since a couple of days back. The last 24 hours had been horrible. I asked about all the normal stuff, and she claimed to have no idea why she had this eye problem – she had never had anything wrong with her eyes. I proceed to drop some dye in her eyes to check them under a microscope, and when I do, I realize she’s wearing contacts.
She didn’t like her natural eye color, so she had bought a set of blue colored lenses eight months earlier. Never removed them, not even during night time. Didn’t even think to mention this to me, claimed to have no ‘foreign materials’ in her eyes.
I gave her quite the harsh lecture and a referral to an ophthalmologist.”