People don't always like telling their doctor what's really happening in their life. Whether it's because they're ashamed of what happen, they think it doesn't matter, they don't want the doctor to know, or just are oblivious to what's going on themselves, people hide things from their doctor. Here are stories from real doctors about patients trying to withhold vital information from them. Some stories are edited for clarification purposes.
A Real Hair Puller
“We had a patient come into the operating room for brain surgery. This guy was probably in his mid-50s with a nice head of light brown hair. Before a patient comes into the actual operating room we ask them a series of questions including whether they have any implants, jewelry, non-hospital clothes on, etc. The guy said no to all the questions.
After the patient got put to sleep, the surgeon grabbed his hair to start shaving it off (because you know, brain surgery) and ALL HIS HAIR PEELED OFF BECAUSE HE WAS WEARING A WIG AND DIDN’T TELL US. We almost shaved his hair piece because he wouldn’t admit to anyone he wore it.”
They’re All Liars!
“I am a doctor of Dental medicine.
You all effing lie to me about flossing!
One guy who swore he didn’t know why he was losing his teeth because he was brushing twice a day caused me to get heated. I gave him a mirror, scraped a chunk of plaque off his teeth from his gum line and showed him a big heaping pile of plaque proving that he was not brushing. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and told him I would show him how to brush and he turned it down because that ‘couldn’t possibly be it.’
Some people just want dentures as fast as possible.”
An Unmistakable Shadow
“We had a patient come to ER and he claimed he had a ‘foreign object’ in his rectum. Obviously we questioned him and he wouldn’t say much except that he was taking a shower, slipped, and when he fell (apparently butt first straight onto this ‘foreign object’), something entered his rectum. The medical stuff in the ER already had a feeling where this was going, but they needed to do some imaging.
Surely enough, the X-ray image shows an unmistakable shadow of large pleasure tool. Now, at this point, the ER personnel knows this is probably benign accident and they have a fair share of giggles, but they have to be sure there’s not some foul play going on – maybe someone is abusing this gentleman. We kept questioning him and showing him the x-ray image. The whole time he sticks to his story, repeating very calmly, that he has no idea what he’s looking at, that he just fell in shower and that some ‘foreign object’ entered his rectum.
Of course we removed the pleasure tool and went to return it to the patient, but he refused, saying it doesn’t belong to him and he’d never seen this thing before in his life. Sure it didn’t, buddy.”
“A Butt Load Of Wasted Time”
“I had parents bring their 3 year old son to the emergency department for one month of abdominal pain that kept getting worse. I ask all the routine questions for this complaint, lots of questions about his poop….is it bloody? Diarrhea? Mucus? When was his last bowel movement? Any changes in the stool? They deny any other concerning symptoms but abdominal pain.
We do bloodwork, ultrasound, X-ray. Everything comes back completely normal but the kid is intermittently screaming in pain, curled in a ball.
Over the next 5 hours I continue to repeat the same questions. I asked repeatedly if there was anything else going on that they could think of….’Nope.’
The kid just doesn’t seem well but we have no reason to keep him, we decide to watch him a little longer, let him eat. The kid eats a bunch, a PBJ, apple juice, crackers, popsicle, no pain so we decide to send them home.
I bring in the discharge paperwork and I’m about to start going over instructions and they dad goes ‘You know…for the past 3 months, he’s had A LOT of worms in his poop.’
WORMS. Freaking worms. You spent 6+ hours denying worms. I literally just turned around and walked out of the room without saying a word. I was laughing almost to the point of tears. Could not wait to tell my resident. Deworming medications, a butt load of wasted time, and they were on their way.”
There’s Plenty More Where These Came From!
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As Seen On TV
“I used to do patient registration in the ER. Two of us were wheeling around our computers and registering patients off of ambulances and getting patient information in rooms. A middle aged guy comes in on an ambulance and my coworker takes it. So I’m finishing up some paperwork and I go to our front office and pull up the patient tracker board so I can see what still needs to be done and a new patient pops up on the board…
Chief complaint: eyeliner pens stuck in his wiener.
My coworker walks into the office looking scared. She explained, ‘The nurse asked him what happened and he said he slipped. She told him that doesn’t seem likely. So he said he had an itch and thought it would help.’
We later found out from the nurse that he finally admitted that he ‘saw it on tv and thought it would feel good’. His 20-something year old daughter was with him, but she clearly had some form of developmental disability. It was all around a sad situation and I hope someone told him about sounding and he did some research on safe practices for kinks/fetishes. Apparently they were both lodged in there pretty badly.”
Man’s Best Friend
“I’m an internal medicine resident. I had a patient with sepsis that was being seen by the urology department. When I first read his clinical history, it stated something along the lines of: ‘infected wound in the groin region, patient claims he doesn’t know how he got it.’
So I begin my assessment and ask him about his wound. Indeed, he claimed he didn’t know how it happened. I decided that the priority was to stabilize the patient and I made some adjustments to antibiotics and other meds.
Well the guy went downhill, the sepsis became severe even though he was with the strongest antibiotics we had and two different vasopressors. His blood pressure was through the floor and eventually he needed intubation and went to the ICU.
He managed to survive after a complete penectomy. And about 2 weeks later, I saw him again.
Turns out the dude was trying to get his dog to lick his ding dong, and put on some peanut butter on it. Naturally the dog bit him. He didn’t seek medical help for about 10 days before the pain and fever was too much. If we knew from the beginning that the wound was inflicted that way, the antibiotic would have been different, probably would have made a difference.
I still feel sorry for that guy, but with a wound like that he is lucky to be alive.”
“This happened when I was still in med school. One time I was doing my gynecology rotations, my doctor and I encountered a 37 year old female accompanied by her husband complaining of lower abdominal pain. After having a look at it, the cause was pretty obvious. There was a fist size bruise on her left ischial spine (the rim of her hip) and from the looks of it, black, deep blue and a dark brown diffusely spread out, it was pretty fresh; not older than a day or two. I had a literal brain spasm and was about to accuse the husband of domestic abuse when my eyes met with my doctor’s. Instantly I knew she was more qualified to handle the situation than I was and I decided to keep my mouth shut. She proceeded to examine the area and asking basic questions while carefully palpating the area. She then asked her patient to undress so that she could do an overall assessment and to get a better picture of what she was dealing with. After some initial reluctance from the wife, her husband managed to convince her that it was in her best interest to let the doctor examine ‘everything.’
My jaw dropped. There were bruises all over her upper abdomen, stomach, back, inner thighs and buttocks. Her chest was practically lumps of red inflamed tissue with blotches of bluish black. Every part of her body that could be covered with clothes was covered in bruises in different stages of healing. I have seen my fair share of gruesome things in my life as a doctor, but this one image has stuck with me simply because the women had looked perfectly normal and healthy. My doctor was also noticeably disturbed by what she saw and asked as to how she managed to injure herself. To my astonishment, the women claims she slipped from the stairs and fell down a flight of stairs and hit herself on the handrail. This woman had tracks along her back which were definitely inflicted by a belt of sorts. And even after a good 20 minutes of going over most of her injuries, she wasn’t ready to claim otherwise.
Meanwhile her husband grew more and more restless and there was a worried look on his face. The doctor then asked both me and the husband to leave as she needed to do a gynecological examination and she needed to do it alone with the patient. If you ever did your rotations in med school, you know that doctors almost never ask students to leave as we somewhat become a part of the ambience. Always there and learning. I instantly realized she needed to establish trust with the patient one on one and needed the patient to be comfortable. I head out along with the husband and we both stood on opposing ends of the corridor. The husband, now visually disturbed, seemed to want to talk to me. I thought to myself, ‘Serves him right.’ And a whole lot of profanity.
After about 5 minutes of awkward silence, he finally decides to move closer to me and says, ‘Hey! Can I speak with you for a minute?’ I am now obviously angry and the guy and throw a quick ‘What?’ glance at him. ‘Can I say something to you that you can pass along to the doctor? I want to tell you what really happened. I just want [Wife] to be healthy.’ Now he had my attention.
He proceeded to tell me about their marriage of 11 years and how happy they were until about 6 months ago. He told me that she had taken a liking to Bondage, Discipline, Sadism, and Masochism and had been increasingly asking him to inflict pain on her in various ways. When he was outright against it, she would insult him and his parents and call out everything he held dear what not, sometimes for days at end, until he literally couldn’t put up with it and gave in to her demands. About 2 months ago, when he said he wanted a divorce as he was done with all her insanity, she showed him pictures of her bruises on her phone and threatened to sue him for domestic violence and send him to jail. She had effectively trapped him. But last night was worse that every other time. She apparently forced him to punch her multiple times over and over until she almost passed out. He asked for what we could do to help her heal. I looked into his eyes. He was crying where he stood.
I went in and pulled my doctor aside and told her the entire story and they did an ultrasound and found out that she had a reputed ovarian cyst and that she needed emergency surgery and underwent an oophorectomy and the couple were referred to a psychiatrist and a couples therapist. I don’t know what happened to them after that but I sure hope they got out of that toxic relationship.”
“I’m a CT tech and I was to scan a woman’s abdomen for belly pain. She and her girlfriend were there. I have to have a pregnancy test. I have to have one done. I can’t radiate a fetus. I even ask nuns so no exceptions. She denies up and down she’s pregnant, and then, after the test I did, it said she was. She denied it and demanded a blood test, since she was a lesbian and never sleeps with men.
Well the blood test came back positive also (surprise!) And the argument that ensued was biblical. She was arguing with her girlfriend and the nurses and the doctor. I never ended up scanning her and they chalked up her pain to her being pregnant. The look on her girlfriend’s face when I said it came back positive was one I will never forget.”
“I’m a nurse. I had a kid once who I needed to get a urine sample from. He was 8. I gave him a cup and pointed him to the bathroom. I went to check on my other patients and came back, kid was still in the bathroom. I go knock on the door, ‘Hey buddy, you ok in there?’
Sink turns on full blast.
‘UH…YEP! EVERYTHING’S FINE!’
I go back to his room a few minutes later and he hands me a bag full of water with a cup inside that also appears to be water. I pour the water out of the bag.
‘Hey buddy, are you sure this is urine in this cup?’
‘Yea! My pee is ALWAYS clear.’
The patient got wheeled off the Xray.
I check the temperature of the so-called urine in the cup. It was ironically the same temperature as the water from the faucet.
Come on little homie, you gotta do better than that.”
“I work in the ER. One day, some pretty young parents brought their toddler in because he was super lethargic and not responding to any stimuli and the parents said they had no idea why. The staff were pretty concerned for him because those symptoms are a pretty big red flag for small kids. So we start running a bunch of tests including a toxicology screening which ended up being positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (TH FREAKING C.) The doc goes and talks to the parents about it and they finally broke down and admitted that the kid had eaten an entire bottle of their weed gummies while they weren’t paying attention a few hours earlier and was just high as a kite!”
“I was on my surgery rotation as a med student – warning: this is gross.
Had a patient recovering from having parts of their bowel removed. As part of the recovery, their intestines weren’t completely connected to let them heal better, so the intestines were connected to a little hole in the skin with a bag attached for the poop to go into, known as a colostomy bag. For reference, this woman was in her late 60s and over 230 pounds.
I had to round on her every day. And every single day, I’d walk in to her laying in bed absolutely covered in toxic gasoline smelling diarrhea (she also had C. Diff, a nasty bacteria that anyone in the hospital can identify by smell). And she would flirt with the residents and make casual conversation while we would clean the feces off of her and fix her bag. One day we walked up to the room and the chief resident walked in the room, immediately walked back out and closed the door behind him. Looked up to all of us following him and went ‘she’s fingering herself covered in poop…’.
I really, really wish I was making this up.
So yeah, she never admitted it but obviously she was tearing at all the tape covering her bag all night until she broke the seal and could get herself covered in poop again to get attention from the doctors.
Why didn’t the nurses deal with it? I have no idea, I was a brand new 3rd year student on my first rotation and just figured that’s the way things were. After the first week the attending was even coming to the room to secure the bag since it kept ‘coming undone.’ Dunno where this is coming from that people are saying only nurses deal with colostomy bag.
She was not mentally disabled in any way and was completely alert and oriented. She wanted attention from the doctors (one resident in particular was her favorite) and figured out how to get it
I did not witness the fingering but the I believe the exact term that was used was ‘EFFING flicking her bean.’
What happened to the patient? No idea, after having her for around 2 weeks my rotation ended and I was relieved of my duty.
At what hospitals do doctors have to deal with ostomies? Terrible ones.”
“We had this lady that came into the ER at least once per month usually with chest pain (she was in her 30s and morbidly obese). She had seen multiple specialists and had her heart/lungs/GI system examined in almost every conceivable way. One night she comes in the with sudden onset blindness. Not her first time with this complaint either; last time she got a trip to the retina specialist.
When I examine her, I walk around her bed and she tells her friend to get her feet off the chair so I can get by. She plays it off supercool by adding, ‘If you have your feet up like you always do.’
Then the neurological exam. I have her touch her nose then touch my finger. Her idea of how a blind person would preform this exam is to touch her nose then wobble her hand from side to side as she touched the end of my finger. On the finger to nose test, she touched my finger on the first try but instead of a straight line she moved her hand back and forth about the 3 inches the whole way there but directly there. My finger was probably 2 feet in front of her face.”
Not to mention the near constant eye contact as we talked. I would ask a question and start moving while she talked and her she would follow my eye perfectly.
She was extremely relieved to find out she had conversion disorder and that her sight would be back soon.
Maybe it was fictitious disorder. I tend to believe all her chest pains and crazy complaints were real feelings she was having due to a number of her social/psychological issues. In the ER at midnight, it’s a lot easier to tell her it is a symptom of dealing with whatever social drama was happening in her life and that her eyes worked fine instead of telling her she was lying to me for some gain. Either way she was sick and needed reassurance. She was genuinely relieved though.”
“A few years ago, I had one kid, maybe 16 or 17 years old, who evidently had heard of a challenge where you can fully insert a lightbulb into your mouth, but when you try to pull it out you can’t open your jaw wide enough and the bulb shatters inside.
Well after about three hours of picking glass from out of his mouth, (in every spot imaginable, gums, under the tongue, roof of the mouth, throat, etc), I asked what went down and he just would not admit that he put the lightbulb in his mouth. His main story was that his friend must have slipped it in his mouth when he was sleeping and punched him in the jaw, however upon talking to this friend in another room, he confessed that the boy had tried to beat the challenge, his friend even showed me videos of other people trying it.
So I go back in with the patient and bring his guardians in, in this case an aunt and uncle, and explained the whole lightbulb challenge without giving his friend up. When asked what I was talking about, I explained and said there are many videos on the internet about the exact thing I’m talking about. They also revealed that he had tried several dangerous stunts and challenges before, but even still the stubborn fool wouldn’t admit a thing, he was adamant that he had absolutely no part in his injury and that everyone was out to get him.
It’s just crazy to me how arrogant and thick headed some people will get, they’ll do anything before admitting to doing something that stupid and short sighted.”
Center Of Attention
“My patient presented over several months with recurrent huge abscesses that we couldn’t explain. She was in horrible pain, enough that she had to stop working. We tested for everything. Eventually her husband called me that he found syringes in her medicine cabinet. We think she was injecting herself with fecal matter. When the syringes were found, she stopped coming to her appointments.
To those asking why: I think she has Münchausen syndrome. She wanted the attention from being sick. I started getting suspicious when she always would get a new abscess before any court dates (CPS problems) and need a doctors note to get out of it. She denies everything and it’s very hard to have someone committed unless they are acutely suicidal.”
“We got a call out to help mobilize a woman who was morbidly obese and told to lose weight. We learned from the daughter she had GAINED weight but her mother would refuse to come clean on what she was eating. All the daughter knew was that her mother may have been eating deep-fried food due to the vast amounts of cooking oil she found in the pantry.
When we arrived, she had gained an extra six kilos but insisted she had lost weight. She did not look it. Before we began mobilizing her and check her living room for trip hazards (she also had horrendous knees) we took a look at the pantry.
Olive oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, any kind of common cooking oil you can find off a supermarket shelf, she had it. A vast stockpile of oil. We asked what she was frying with the oil. She insisted that she wasn’t frying anything and that she was eating healthy since the oils she used were ‘healthy.’ We had to explain to her that oils are still fatty and will still contribute to weight gain.
After a bit of poking around the pantry, I noticed that for the amount of oil she had, she had very little in food that could be traditionally fried. She also had little in other foodstuffs that could explain the obesity.
I brought it up with the therapist and the therapist then demanded the truth. We couldn’t provide complete healthcare until we knew everything.
She admitted that she thought healthy oils would help her lose weight and suppress the appetite so she had taken to drinking the bottles of oil whenever she got hungry.
Needless to say, we disposed of most of the bottle of oil and set her up for a home visit with a dietitian.”
“I’m a guy and I was going in for my routine physical because I got one every year. Doctor asked me during a physical when my last test for gonorrhea and chlamydia was, and never asked whether I’ve been active (doing the dirty). I’ve never hit a home run and my doctor was cute, and for some reason I felt embarrassed to admit I haven’t done it so just rolled with the recommended urine test.
$250+ and the expected negative results later, I felt really stupid. Looking back, pretty weird thing to not just admit, my doctor couldn’t care less what my romantic life was like. Would have saved me some money, yikes.”