“Dear Doctors of Reddit, what was your dumbest patient experience?”
But, we also wouldn’t get to laugh (or cry) at all the incredulous answers they come up with!
Here are 60 of the most outrageous patient stories doctors experienced with patients.
1) Dr. Yahoo Is In The House
This one comes from a patient who was outing her mom:
“My grandmother has Crohn’s disease. Very very badly. It skipped my mother and her brother. When I was 15, over the course of 6 months, I went from being 5’9 and 190 pounds to being 110. I was a skeleton, extremely anemic, and coughing up blood. My mother was CONVINCED it was something else. I forced her to bring me to a doctor and she spouted off all these possibilities. She then talked about what she yahooed. Not even googled. Yahoo. About genetics and such. And “crohns can’t skip generations.”Well the doc said “just in case. We’re gonna run some tests. Long story short I have crohns in my throat and small intestine. So does my cousin. It just skipped a generation.”
2) He Knew What He Had
From @cazman123, whose dad is an emergency room nurse:
“I had a patient come in with several pages he printed off the internet. He kinda slammed them down and said, “This is what I have.” He had bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stool, and fever among other things. He insisted he had Schistosomiasis. He was being a real jerk about it like we’re wasting time since he already knew what he had.”
The next question threw the patient off guard.
“So, I asked when did he get back from Africa. And he said, “Africa? I’ve never been to Africa. What the hell would I be doing in Africa?” I proceeded to tell him that Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease one gets while swimming in the Nile River or other rivers in developing countries like in Southeast Asia. He got pissed off at me because he thought I was being a smart ass. He got seen and diagnosed with gastroenteritis (the stomach flu). The bloody stool? He had hemorrhoids.”
3) It’s Funny At First
From 4th year medical student @Eshlau:
“Patient comes in with a laundry list of chronic conditions he suffers from- fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc. Guy is wearing over-the-counter braces on all of his fingers and both thumbs, as well as both wrists, forearms, knees, and shins because of a rare bone disorder he has that I’ve never heard of- “well that doesn’t surprise me, doctors go to med school to learn how to prescribe drugs and make money, not heal people.” Ok. Patient tells me that he suffers from a rare disease that I’ve probably never even heard of called myalgic encephalomyelitis. True, I’ve never heard of it.”
After the patient leaves, the doc-in-training looks it up.
“I look up myalgic encephalomyelitis. It’s the British term for chronic fatigue syndrome, which the patient also had. He has a weekly standing appointment with my preceptor, which is the only thing that keeps him from visiting the local ER every day, sometimes multiple times a day. His diagnosis is Illness Anxiety Disorder, although he would tell you it’s 800 other things you’ve obviously never heard of. The patient is mentally ill, so I’m not insulted by him or anything, but you’d be surprised how many people come to the doctor to be treated for something, all the while telling the doctor how horrible they are and why all doctors are evil puppets of big pharma.”
4) Wants Zero Glucose Levels
@brownskinned, an oncology nurse who works with patients undergoing clinical trials, said:
“I told him his glucose level was 73. Normal range is usually between 70-100. He got really upset at this point, and asked him “what’s wrong? Your labs are within range!” And he said “I need it to be zero.”
He said it was for a new clinical trial.
“I don’t know what clinical trial you’re trying to get into, but if your blood glucose was zero, you’d be dead or dying.” He was not convinced because I’m “just a nurse,” so I sent a message to his MD asking them to educate their patients better.”
5) Doctors Can Be Dumb, Too!
“I had a patient come in with unmistakable signs of BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), a condition where the salt crystals that fall on hair cells in your ears to tell you which way is down and which direction(s) you are accelerating in get stuck. When this happens, your ears and eyes disagree about your current position and acceleration and you get really dizzy.”
The patient saw an urgent care doc, who diagnosed her with BPPV. He told her to go home, lay down on the bed with her head hanging off the end, and have her husband shake her head.
“Imagine being on the most intense rollercoaster you’ve ever been on, feeling like you’re going to throw up, and then having someone who has no medical training shake your head around for five minutes. She spent the next two days throwing up before she could get in to see me.”
6) High Blood Pressure Trick
“So – the patient had low blood pressure – so their self treatment: eating more fatty foods in order to decrease the size of their blood vessels in order to increase the blood pressure within their system…”
7) Fancy Bacon Foot Wrap
@Rdthedo explains why this isn’t a good idea.
“We had a diabetic foot patient a couple weeks ago who thought that wrapping his foot in raw bacon would help get rid of bacteria not too long ago. Not too long ago was also about 4 toes ago….”
8) Mom Doesn’t Know Best
“Had a pregnant woman who’s ultrasound showed the baby had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (Half a heart, 100% fatal without surgery) who stopped seeing her OB so she could have the baby in the forest and bathe it is breast milk to cure him. SMDH”
9) Battery Shoved Up His Nose
@TableWallFurance remembers this story well:
“The kid had cruddy green/bloody stuff coming out of his left nostril, and a lot of redness and swelling of only the left side of his nose and the adjacent cheek. Mom was sure he caught a sinus infection and just wanted some antibiotics…Mom was insistent that he NEVER puts things in his nose.”
He found a button battery from a watch stuffed up in there. In another couple of days, it would have started burning a hole through the boy’s nose.
10) Worst Diet For Pregnancy
“Docs are worried because she might have some retained placenta or pituitary disorder and this could be super bad for future fertility. We call her in for a conversation about the hormone levels not going away. After talking together about what might be wrong, they are going to go home and think about further tests. She says “I need to go. I have an appointment at the weight-loss center for an HCG shot. Turns out that she is on the HCG diet. HCG IS the pregnancy hormone.”
11) Effective Family Planning Method
“Patient inquiring about birth control was adamant she wanted an IED.”
Studies have shown that “improvised explosive devices” will prevent pregnancies 100% of the time.
12) Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em
“I’m a corpsman, not a doctor, but I once had a patient tell me that there was no credible research that smoking was bad for one’s health.”
13) He Just Couldn’t See The Truth
CaptainTheGabe, an optician, had this to say:
“He said that puff machine gives you glaucoma and we weren’t going to pull that on him. He told us his father got an exam, and had glaucoma after using that machine. His uncle and brother also had no signs of glaucoma, and after getting the puff test, both people had been diagnosed with the disease. Glaucoma doesn’t have any outward symptoms before you start going blind…he has a very strong familial disposition to glaucoma, and refused to be tested for it.”
14) Doctors Don’t Heal, But Books Do
This particular incident stuck out like a sore ulcer for @jdubs33:
“80+ y.o. patient who was declining with multiple diagnoses and about 3 decubitus ulcers. Daughter was adamant that her father be kept on his strict “paleo” diet because that would “supercharge” his healing. She had a stack of diet books. He simply wasn’t getting enough nutrition to heal the ulcers. He didn’t like the diet at all btw. At some point you kind of have to stop being polite and just tell patients/ family members bluntly that you don’t have time for this shit and what you recommend and they can do what they want and just document everything. It happens a lot but she sticks out.”
15) Could He Hear Any Better?
This optician, who shall remain anonymous, said:
“Had a patient put EAR DROPS in one eye. White part of eye (conjunctiva) scarred over entire cornea and was left with no light perception. Asked me if he should have come in sooner. It had been 4 months. He needs a cornea transplant…”
16) Paging Dr. Liar, Your Pants Are On Fire
Dental student @Macabalony hears baloney all the time from patients:
“One patient in particular is pathological liar. During one visit, they claimed to have gone to medical school. Next visit was that they did dental Army. Last visit was that they had a PhD. The patient will say things like “Hey doc do you need me to move my head mesial or distal?” No. I need you to move your head right. “Hey doc, are these cavities being cause by the anaerobic pathology microbes?” No. They are cause by you eating snacks all day and not brushing.”
17) They Made It All Up
“Not my story, rather my collegues. A patient was admitted for anemia and a localized cancer was found, she was refered to surgery so she can get cured from her localize cancer and she started telling everyone that it was the doctors who caused the cancer and that she was doing just fine before coming to the hospital. She lectured the surgeon and my collegue, who pleaded her to get her surgery (so that the cancer doesn’t advance), and yet she refused, saying she knew better and probably didn’t even have cancer…”
18) That’ll Show ‘Em
@Dyspaereunia didn’t treat this patient, but witnessed what happens when dumb gets dumber:
“I didn’t treat this patient but I was on shift when this guy came in with tombstones on his ekg in the setting of chest pain. He told the ED doc, “I want a second opinion before going to the cath lab.” This ekg is unmistakable. The interventionalist had to come down to the emergency department to tell him he was having a heart attack.”
19) This Doc Couldn’t See Straight
@smokesmagoats was a young optician in her mid-twenties when this crazy thing happened:
“I had a guy come in saying he was a doctor and he wrote himself an RX for glasses and he brought frames. A few days later his lenses come back, he puts on his glasses, and he can’t see. So I check the lenses and the RX match what he wrote. I try to explain that there’s only two options, either they need to sit differently on his face or the RX isn’t good.”
Turns out that he wasn’t even an eye doctor – he was a lung specialist!
20) Overcome By Hysteria
@xxsheaxx loves her job for crazy reasons like this:
“Had a mom in hysterics because she was convinced that her neighbor’s, friend’s, step son’s, teacher’s dog has MRSA so her baby was going to die. It took everything within me to not tell her that most of the hospital staff have MRSA. But it took 3 hours for me to finally calm her down after I called: infectious control, her pediatrician, gynecologist, and family doctor. Yes I had to call all these people; yes they laughed at me; yes she was beside me the whole time questioning their judgement.”
@xxsheaxx also had this story to share:
“Patient was a young child who came in with an extremely high Blood Glucose level. Once she was stable we did some teaching and kept her for a few days for observation. For some reason every-time I checked her, her levels would be extremely high although we were appropriately treating her. Turns out her family would bring her fast food for every meal and hide it in the side table. More teaching and resources were put into place.”
22) He Never Knew It Was Missing
“Nurse here. The number of American 20-something males who don’t know what circumcision is is ridiculously high. They think that boys are “born circumcised.” Evidence: New fathers (and mothers) asking me what’s wrong with their newborn son’s penis. “Ummm… He still has his foreskin. Many parents choose to have it removed when the baby is a couple days old. It’s called circumcision.” Often followed by a parent’s question: “What’s circumcision?” That’s when I face palm.”
23) Hammer Trick Doesn’t Always Work
“Im ashamed to say I have a story that fits here. I have a ganglion cyst on the inside of my wrist, when it starts getting large I smash my wrist down on a hard table and it goes away. I developed a similar bump on the top of my foot. I couldn’t smash it down like my wrist so I tried hitting it with a hammer. Didn’t do anything and it was getting bigger and interfering with my shoes so I got it investigated. Not a cyst, but arthritis in the joint. No wonder my hammer trick didn’t work. The radiologist did find my treatment method amusing, but advised me to get any more lumps checked out rather than randomly hitting things with a hammer.”
24) She Chose Nerves
“My aunt (who has varicose veins, pretty obvious to anyone who sees it) once asked me why her legs hurt and what those bluish lines under her skin were. I almost went on to explain to her about dilated veins when she interrupts and decides for herself that those are her nerves. Dying nerves. And the blue stuff was blood clots inside the nerves. I’m a med student.”
25) He Couldn’t Just Quit
Another story from @SomeYorkTown:
“I was doing a respiratory system examination on this guy who frequently(about once a month) gets admitted in the general ward with complaints of breathlessness. He’s had COPD for a couple of years. Quite bad. And he tells me that he isn’t going to quit smoking because ‘God’ told him not to. When asked why, he tells me that the people who are relying on him for their daily livelihood won’t survive if he stopped. I went on to ask him if he meant the people at the cigarette factory or the health industry. He didn’t get the sarcasm though.”
26) He Took The Blue Pill…
“Patient comes to the surgery clinic with complaints of mass per rectum. (Now I wasn’t there the first time he came). But the surgeon wanted to do a couple of investigations and advised him to get admitted. The guy decided he doesn’t want to. Couple of months later, he comes back to the clinic. Apparently he went to one of these alternative medicine places or whatever and they had tied this metal wire(not exactly sure why) around the mass. By then, this mass has eroded through it and was bleeding and had gotten much bigger. Turned out to be a cancerous growth.”
27) Yeah, About Those Essential Oils…
Here’s a scary warning from@chickenpants80:
“I was a unit secretary and nurse aide on a radiation oncology unit in the early 2000’s. We had a patient show up through the ER and was admitted for emergency radiation treatment. She had a massive fungating mass in her mouth that had consumed half her head. When the RadOnc doc tried to examine her and open her mouth, her remaining teeth fell out into his hand. It had eaten through the bones of her face, invaded her eye socket, everything. Doc said it was the worst case of mouth cancer he’d seen. According to her husband, she had a small lesion on her hard palate, and upon receiving the diagnosis of an early stage squamous cell carcinoma, she decided to treat with essential oils and things like frankincense because chemo was poison. Her husband said he had tried to reason with her but she was adamant about the ‘natural’ treatment. She died in agony shortly after.”
28) You’re Wrong, I’m Right
From medical tech @EarthwormJane:
“Did a fingerstick for a patient, ensured the little cut stopped bleeding, and then put a band-aid on it. Told her to collect a urine sample for testing. Test came back strongly positive (4+ reading) for blood. She complained to the doctor that there is NO WAY she has blood in her urine, and that the blood from her fingerstick must have entered the urine, throwing off her reading. She said it was my fault that I did her blood test before her urine test, and I obviously made a mistake. She repeated the test later in the afternoon, still at 4+. Came back a week later, still at 4+. The look on her face when I told her “sorry, ma’am, your result is still positive” was priceless.”
29) He Was A Con Artist
@sosanostra, who works in an optometrist office, said:
“When the doctor was explaining to the mom that her son had to wear his glasses all the time since he’s nearsighted and basically can’t see clearly past 5′ in front of him. For some reason this caused a switch to flip in the mom and she spazzed out on the doctor, saying that her son doesn’t need glasses and that the doctor is only saying that he does because he wants to sell glasses. She says that she only brought her son in because there was some form for school that needed to be filled out and that doctors are all a con artists trying to push unnecessary medications and interventions. The doctor tried to calm her down and explain that he’s only trying to help them but that she was free to get a second opinion and gave her a copy of the kids prescription and sent them on their way. About four months later the lady is back asking for another copy of her son’s prescription. Apparently the first semester midterm results were in, and her son failed them all, because he couldn’t see the board in his classes and needs glasses!”
30) Medical-Grade Stuff
“Not a doctor but I’m a nurse who worked in the OR at a trauma center. Was doing surgery on a 19 year old who tested positive for meth and cocaine who was grilling the anesthesiologist about every drug we were going to use in surgery because “he doesn’t like putting chemicals in his body.” Gotta stick with that organic, fair trade, Non-GMO cocaine.”
31) She Broke Her Water – And Her Vajayjay
@lmao_turkey, who works in the ER, said:
“We had a very pregnant patient come in needing stitches in her vagina. Turns out she was a realtor and didn’t want her water to break while she was showing a house, so she put a glass cup in her pants to catch the water. Instead of using a pad or an adult diaper, she went for a GLASS CUP. She sat down while showing a house and sure enough, it broke and cut her up pretty bad.”
32) Half Diet, All Nonsense
Here’s how @Frishypharma reacted to this girl’s poor math skills:
“Was working at a clinic. I was speaking with a non-controlled diabetic patient about her sugar intake and she said she drinks a 32 oz soda everyday. I ask her if it’s regular or diet and she replies with “It’s half-regular. I let the ice melt first so there isn’t as much sugar in it”. Sorry but that isn’t how it works.”
33) That’s Not What Smucker’s Jelly Is For
“Had a young woman with recurring UTIs that began after a recent partner and with no STDs; went through the standard questions trying to figure out what could be causing them and eventually found out she had been lubricating with jelly. Not KY jelly. The mixup had literally been a joke on House. It took me some effort to keep a straight face, but we eventually resolved the problem and she stopped getting UTIs.”
34) Bad Case Of The Fart-Attacks
In this thread, an anonymous Reddit user said:
“A lady comes screaming into the ER, Now she’s all dressed up, so are her 2 grown daughters. All of them screaming hysterically that their mother is going to die. I go by them and nearly get tackled by the SIL, husband of one of the daughters.”
The family had just come from a wedding, where mom had apparently eaten one too many potatoes. After a shot of pantoprazole, her fart embolism went away.
35) Dehydration Therapy Hack
“I had a patient who was a completely non-compliant diabetic, smoker, morbidly, who had his first heart attack at 45. His blood pressure was also super high. And instead of taking his anti-hypertensive medications, he went to the gym. In the gym: he would sit in the sauna for a very long time, and sweat a lot, and lower his blood pressure by becoming dehydrated.”
36) But, Cigarettes Come From Plants!
“Paramedic here. Transported a guy who was adamant about only using homeopathic medicine, natural/healthy living, etc and refusing meds/interventions/x-rays on this basis. He also smoked a pack a day. The ED doc called him on this nonsense with something along the lines of “you smoke so you’re not that homeopathic, you’re getting a chest x-ray.”
37) Wonky Mind Control Methods
@entMD has seen firsthand how mind control can fail a person:
“Had a patient with a HgbA1c of 13 who refused all diabetic medications because he believed that he could control his livers production of glucose with his mind. He believed himself to be very fit and active and felt that with his mental control he was a better athlete than most other people because he could ramp up his glucose production when he needed to. He was in the hospital for a diabetic foot ulcer that required a transmetatarsal amputation.”
38) DIY Cosmetic Surgery
As told by @AvalonAPV:
“A male patient inyected kitchen oil into his own cheeks because he saw a plastic surgery tv show where a surgeon inyected something similar to a model, then he was amazed that the bumps of the oil didnt go away and were turning red and painful…”
39) You Don’t Drill Cavities
@pheebers was peeved at this mom:
“Was treating cavities on a very nervous 4 year old. Had finally gotten into a cooperative groove when genius mother looked up from her phone and noticed that I was drilling teeth (she was in the room the whole time – I had reviewed treatment with her, she knew we were fixing cavities). Proceeds to curse me out under her breath saying “you’re drilling holes in her teeth! this is…ridiculous, you people are scammers making holes in people’s teeth!”
At this point the dentist is mad at mom for being 20 minutes late, and scaring her kid with her screaming.
“Appointment is over, kid jumps down high fives and gives me a big hug and I turn to mom and ask her how exactly she thought cavities were fixed? She said ‘you don’t drill, my mother is a dental assistant”. I then proceeded to explain in excruciating detail the scientific process of how we remove decay. She said “that’s not true” I then told her that she can go ask her mom, ask Google or go to dental school if she wants to know more but I won’t be treating her child anymore.”