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Entertainment often stems from the sheer absurdity of cautionary labels found on a variety of products—those reminders cautioning against ingesting harmful substances or submerging electronic devices in water. In the healthcare domain, it often seems like these warnings are tailor-made for the individuals encountered by medical professionals. One can’t help but ponder how these individuals successfully navigated their journey to adulthood with their well-being (largely) intact.
Here 14 professionals share their baffling stories in patient care that’ll leave your jaw-dropping.
1. Leaving Out the Most Obvious Cause
A rural ER doc shares: “35 year old female walks in with right sided jaw/neck swelling. “ I think it happened because I ate some meat yesterday that my body is reacting to” … 10 minutes later : “oh yeah, and I accidentally swallowed a bee and it stung me in my mouth right before this happened. Sorry I forgot to mention that.”
2. Forgetting the Last Step
Someone shared a story of a patient that forgot the last step for using warm milk to sooth an irritated eye (making sure it’s cool enough.) They say: “Saw a chart once where a person came in for a burn to their eye. They told the Dr they read online that warm milk in the eye can help with irritation and their eyes were irritated. So they BOILED milk and then poured it in their eye. Burned it all.”
3. Missed an Important Biology Class
“Not me but my wife who is a vet: had a client who got mad at her because he didn’t realize that once he neutered his dog, he wouldn’t be able to breed it.” They definitely missed class the day the birds and the bees were discussed.
4. Refusing Basic Care
There’s a time for prayer and a time for following advice for simple measures that could save one’s life (and plenty of time for both). A doctor reports, “I worked in cancer research/surgery a couple years ago. There is a good amount of people who will refuse to have a small removal/surgery because they think holistic medicine or praying it away will work. They always come back and we always have to remove so much more. One time a patient had a melanoma on their calf and the doctor wanted to do a simple wide excision, but they left because they wanted to pray it away. Came back a couple months later because it got bigger and we had to amputate their leg. Pretty sure they had positive lymph nodes at that point too.”
5. Hurts so Good
“My sister told me a story of a woman with chronic blisters and lesions on her lips. They couldn’t figure out what it was for weeks. It would heal and come back. Heal and come back. Turns out she would jam out on like three bags of salt and vinegar chip a day for weeks at a time until the sores hurt too bad to continue then she’d go to the doctor.” Ouch!
6. The Realities of Birth
“Not me but my mother would pick up shifts as a nurse sometimes in Labour and Delivery and she had met a handful of women who didn’t know the baby was going to be coming out of their vaginas. Like no clue. My mom usually said something like “how you got it in is how it’s coming out honey”. This was the late 90 early 2000s.”
Other providers concurred, sharing stories of horrified women when they realized they’d have to push a baby out.
7. Uncompliant Diabetics
More than one medical provider shared a story of diabetics that didn’t understand the repercussions of their health condition. Diabetics that refused to take their insulin, eat tons of junk, or ask if tingling in the feet is worrisome (for the record, yes, it is). To avoid serious complications, it’d be best for these folks to follow their doctor’s recommendations and make some lifestyle changes asap.
8. Mass Confusion
A doctor shares, “Had an adult male patient who needed a Foley catheter. His mother was in the room, and they both lived together in the backwoods of TN. I informed them both of the order for a catheter, how it works, and why it was needed. His mother stated “Well, he’s still a virgin and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with his virginity being taken in a hospital.”” Sorry ma’am, that’s not how it works.
9. Ignoring Life-Saving Instructions
A doctor’s brother shared, “Parents claim their child hasn’t eaten anything before surgery, as they were carefully directed. Turns out they thought the surgical team was just being cruel to their child and when she said she was hungry that morning, they detoured on their way to the surgical center and got her a full Southern breakfast. She damn near died aspirating biscuits and gravy.” Thankfully, the girl was okay, but it could have turned out terrible and the parents didn’t seem too concerned when reprimanded.
10. Smoking on Oxygen
Some people never learn. A doc shares, “Had a patient come in for facial burns because he smoked while wearing his oxygen….twice….in the same week….”
11. Ghosting Proper Medical Care
A colleague shares, “Man gets a Pacemaker. Doesnt show up to appointments. Three years later comes to the hospital looking for help, wearing his daughter’s bra for 3 months to serve as a holder for the pacemaker that got out of his body from his infected open wound.” Many note he’s lucky he didn’t die of an infection to his heart.
12. Taking Mystery Pills
A woman’s husband, who is an anesthesiologist, shares, “When training junior doctors, one of the things she has go reinforce over and over again is that you never leave drugs unattended in an unsecured area in a hospital, even for a moment, because some people see drugs and think “Hmm, fun” and take them even if they don’t know what they are and they just raided a trolley or picked up a syringe off a bedside table.
And then, because the drugs used for anaesthetics in hospitals are quite serious, those people quite likely end up dead or vegetables.”
13. Plan B for Men
A pharmacist recalls a story of a stressed man wanting to know what he can do to prevent pregnancy in a woman he recently slept with. She had already taken a Plan B pill, but he wanted to know what he could do to prevent it. Um… nothing now. The pharmacist was flabbergasted.
14. Warning Labels Are There for a Reason
Reading through these stories, it’s clear why labels are put on items (like not putting a hair dryer in the bath).
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