There are many things which are either difficult to explain or simply just unexplainable, especially in the medical world. Doctors are simply doing their best to ensure the patients are healthy and understand what is going on in their body.
Well, just as humans should know how to breathe and eat, patients should understand some basic knowledge, right? Unfortunately for these doctors, that's not quite the case. These doctors share the dumbest things they ever had to explain to one of their patients. All stories have been edited for clarity.
Please Go To The Doctor Next Time
“This lady comes into the ER with a massively swollen forearm. The doctor asked her what had happened so he knew how to treat her. She said she got bit by something. So he asked what she was doing that got her bit.
Apparently, this lady’s dog was barking at a bush, at night time. She gets her dog inside and hears the bush rattle around, so she decided to stick her arm inside. BITE.
After she tells him this, he looked at her with an ‘are you really serious, right now?’ look.
Asks: ‘Ma’am, was the bush rattling or was it the thing inside the bush?’
She said it was the thing inside the bush. So then he asks, ‘It was a rattle snake, you know that right?’
Answers yes to that also. If she knew why did she only tell us she got bit by ‘something?’
His last question to her was, ‘Why didn’t you come into the ER when it happened!?’
To which she answers, ‘I thought it would go away in the morning.’
He had to let her know that with any type of rattle snake bite, she needs to come into the ER. She swore that aspirin would do the trick.”
Solved The Blood Sugar Mystery
“A lady I was seeing for clinical was diabetic and she would come in every week with stupid high blood sugar levels (250-560ish), not knowing why they were so high. In order to find out, she started to keep a record of everything she ate, and all her food intake seemed fine. One day, her husband came with her, which was weird, and he ninja slipped me a note while shaking my hand. It read, ‘Ask her about the Quiktrip slushies. She doesn’t believe me that they have sugar in them.’ So I asked her if she was having any soda, lemonade, tea, ice cream, shakes or slushies. She told me, like a light bulb had gone off in her head, ‘Well, I have been drinking about 3 of the 48oz Quiktrip slushies every day for awhile now. They’re just so good! And they aren’t food or drink, they’re slushies! Since they’re not food or drink, they don’t have any sugar in them, and I don’t need to record them!’
It was so hard to convince her that those are so full of sugar it isn’t even funny. But seriously. 3 slushies a day on a type 2 diabetic. It was one of the dumbest things I have ever heard in my life.
I was very grateful to her husband for coming forward – she was ending up in the hospital every other day or so because she was drinking these stupid slushies all the time. I’m glad he saw it, and I’m glad that he came to the meeting. Not only did it actually help his wife, he started coming more often and letting me help him adjust to her diet also, and she mentioned to me later that it probably saved their marriage, due to the fact that all of a sudden he showed her that he was taking a direct interest in her and her life. It was a big turning point for me in feeling good about my job.”
There’s Something In Your Back
“A guy came into the ER, very paranoid and twitchy but seemingly otherwise alright…until he turned his back on one of the nursing staff and revealed a knife handle sticking out of his back. Someone had stabbed him in the back and left the knife there. The guy wouldn’t believe it though, he said his family had made him go to the ER but he thought they were crazy.
Several doctors and nurses, even with a combination of mirrors, an x-ray, and pictures on camera phones couldn’t convince him he had a knife sticking out of his back. He kept insisting they were trying to scam him. Even when he put his hand back there and felt the blood he insisted they put it there and that it wasn’t his.
Eventually they got him into surgery and removed the knife but, for a good hour, they had at least ten people trying to convince this guy that yes he did in fact have a knife stuck in him.
You’d think, ‘Sir, you have a knife in your back,’ wouldn’t need much more explanation than that but for this guy it took some convincing.”
That’s Not How You Do It
“So we’re told to always show a patient how to take an inhaler if they are new to them and that we should check technique every so often. ‘Yeah, yeah,’ you think, ‘How hard can it be’.
Well, my senior once noticed that a patient was getting repeat prescriptions for an inhaler every week rather than every month. We brought her in to find out why. She comes in and we proceed to question her on why she has refilling her prescription every week. She responds with, ‘Oh, it just doesn’t seem to work very well! I press it up to 50 times and it doesn’t help’
We were in shock over this. Salbutamol inhalers taken in excess (we’re talking like 10 puffs taken in an asthma attack) can give you a thumping headache, a tremor and a dry mouth. How is she taking 50 and not noticing? We ask her a bunch of questions regarding if she has been feeling any of the aforementioned symptoms. She tells us no.
We ask to see the technique. As it turns out, she was spraying it onto her chest. Internal facepalms were had and we educated her on how to take it properly.”
Everyone Has One Of Those
“I work in dermatology and I once had a precious, little old man come into the office complaining of a new spot on his chest. Now, the spot was not itchy, painful, or bleeding but he really wanted it checked out. This is fairly common and most of the time we look out for things like pre-cancers and age-related spots in this age group.
I had him lift up his shirt and show me the spot. I had a difficult time visualizing anything, so I asked him what spot he was referring to. He got a little testy with me and said, ‘What are you blind? You don’t see that spot right there?’
I responded, ‘show me by taking my hand and placing it on the spot’.
What happened next still boggles my mind, but I’ll never forget it. What I feel under my index finger is a squishy, little lump.
‘Sir. That is your nip.’
‘My what?!’ ‘Nip, sir. Everybody has these.’
Finally he conceded with: ‘Huh. If you say so.’
I sent him home with the directions ‘just leave it alone’ and then laughed so hard I dry-heaved.”
It’s Only The Machines
“I was rounding in the trauma intensive unit one morning and walking from bed to bed talking to patient’s families. Most of the discussions were grim as the patients had severe injuries and were on ventilatory support (breathing machines) and some were requiring blood transfusions and IV medicines to keep their blood pressure up.
Sitting up in one bed was a guy who had been in a car wreck and had (this was a while ago, but I’m pretty sure) a liver laceration seen on a CT scan. These can be catastrophic if they bleed, as the liver gets 25% of the body’s blood wash through it every heart beat and is essentially a giant, fragile blood vessel.
Anyway, this guy had not bled and was stable as a rock and was getting ready to be moved out. He was sitting up in a lounge chair, drinking coffee, talking to his family and watching a daytime talk show.
As I finished discussing the plan and prognosis with the family and was preparing to move on, his parents pulled me aside and whispered to me gravely, ‘Doctor, is he on life support?’
I looked over to this guy sitting up, drinking coffee and watching ‘The View’ and fought down the temptation to reply, ‘Yes, ma’am. It’s only the machines keeping him alive at this point.'”
Where Do I Start
“Now where do I start… so many interesting cases. Well I’ll list a couple of cases from the top of my head:
Case 1: A female asthmatic patient, in her mid to late 30’s, seemed to be going through her salbutamol inhaler quite rapidly. Her medication history showed that she had gotten 6 puffers within the last few weeks. She was nearby so I asked if her asthma had been playing up on her recently or if she had misplaced her inhalers. Turns out a close friend of hers suggested that she spray her puffer onto her pillows at night before she sleeping…. her friend also told her to spray generously, which equated to something like 5-6 sprays each pillow.
Case 2: There was male patient in his early 50’s that was on cholesterol lowering medication. He came in on a day that I happened to be doing health checks where I conducted blood pressure measurements, blood glucose readings, and cholesterol readings. I conducted the health check on him and noticed that his cholesterol was unusually high for someone on that particular class and strength medication. When I asked about his cholesterol he told me that he would only take his medication when he felt his cholesterol levels rise. Yep, dead set, he pretty much told me he can sense his cholesterol levels… Amazing. I sat him down and talked some sense into him.
Case 3: A young couple, no older than 18, came in requesting the morning after pill (emergency contraceptive). After going through the routine questions, the male counterpart asked if the morning after pill had to be taken the morning after. On top of all this, after I just explained how to take medication, the genius of a boyfriend asks me why the medication was labelled with her name and not his. I literally face-palmed; I am very understanding of patient ignorance and would never disrespect anyone by doing the face-palm action but this guy… his lack of knowledge is something else… it’s not right. I explained that he couldn’t fall pregnant being a male and therefore his FEMALE partner was to take said medication.”
“I was talking to a patient about an upcoming surgery and asked her, ‘Has anyone in your family ever had problems with anesthesia or being put to sleep for surgery?’
She said ‘Yes! My mom died under anesthesia!’
This got my attention and I asked, ‘When did this happen?’ And she said ‘about ten years ago.’ I asked a lot of other questions trying to get a handle on what had happened and how the events of her mother’s death might relate to the risk of surgery for the daughter. Some complications run in families, others are unique to the individual or the illness and it’s important to have a solid handle on that before surgery.
I finally asked her ‘How old was your mother?’ And she answered, ‘She’s 65.’ I noted the present tense and asked, ‘You’re mother was 65 when she died?’
The patient answered, ‘No. My mom was about 55 when she died. She’s 65 now.’
At this point I gently laid my pen down and took a deep breath. ‘So your mother is not actually dead?’ It turns out that people love hearing ‘they died on the table’ or ‘we lost you’ or some variation of that. I have no idea who tells them or where it comes from, but I’ve never had a patient die who didn’t stay dead.”
Let Me Tell You
“What I used to think was common knowledge, I have learned is not, having had more than one patient over the years who doesn’t understand the basics of getting pregnant. While some of this was from people without learning disabilities or any discernible reason for not knowing, the majority of people who didn’t understand how to get pregnant were people who have been very sheltered, whose parents probably didn’t allow them to learn about it.
Other things I have explained to patients:
-Cleaning your genitals with household products can cause serious injury.
-Checking to see if you can get pregnant just to get an abortion is not a good idea (as in someone doesn’t want to be pregnant now, just checking all is working)
-Not having any ‘action’ during your period is not a way to avoid pregnancy.
-And a favorite story of mine – female came one day feeling troubled about a number of things including a skin tag on her genitals. We see lots of skin tags so it’s not unusual and we can usually remove them quite easily. She was in the stirrups and my colleague could see nothing of any of the multiple symptoms she described, internally or externally, including the skin tag. She was asked to point to it and pointed to her love button. This was an educated, married woman in her mid-30s with several children. Easy to laugh, but we did find this quite sad.”
Not The Same Thing
“Once had a friend who was 9 months pregnant and asked me to drive her to Walmart. I drive her there and we walk in and she starts walking to the automotive section. I’m totally baffled. She doesn’t even own a car. ‘You looking for something specific that I can help you find?’ I ask. She tells me she’s looking for oil. I’m even more confused now. I ask why, almost afraid of what the answer might be. ‘So I can drink it’, she says. Turns out that she was complaining to a friend that she wanted to go into labor and get it over with. That friend, who has never gone through pregnancy but professes vast knowledge on the subject, tells my friend that if you drink ‘castrol oil’ it will help you go into labor. There is a big difference between ‘castrol oil’ and Castor Oil. She was still going to drink it against my advice until I called my cousin, an RN, so she could tell her she was about to kill her baby. So much hope.”
“I Just Need An Orange”
“Patient was a newly diagnosed diabetic who needed to be taught how to inject insulin. So the diabetes educator did the good old routine of taking an orange, drawing up insulin, then injecting it into the orange, then made the patient repeat it. Patient goes home and practices/injects himself. He comes back in a week and his blood sugar is out of control. They ask him if he’s been taking his insulin and he goes ‘of course.’ So they decide to ask him to demonstrate how he injects insulin. The patient goes, ‘Sure, I just need an orange.’ At this point I started face palming hard because I know exactly where this one is heading. But, of course, they got him an orange and a vial of insulin with a syringe. So the guy draws up the insulin correctly, takes the syringe, injects it into the orange, and then says ‘and then I eat the orange.’ At this point I had to walk out because I nearly lost my mind right there…
At least he ate the orange, I guess”
Duct Tape Does Not Fix Everything
“I’m just a dude in his 20’s who decided to be a flager in a kid’s motocross race.
So I’m standing there, watching my section, making sure I’m ready if one of the kids, anywhere between the ages of 8 and 11, falls. Sure enough, about half way through the race, a kid takes my turn, and loses control. The poor lad face plants into the dirt curve, so I run back around the track, and flag for the other racers to slow down, and stay on the right.
I turn around, and see the kids dad trying to duct tape the kids obviously broken hand to the handle of his motor bike.
I motioned to two of my friends helping flag to stop him. I ran over to him, they got the on site paramedics. I told him to remove himself from the track, his son was done.
He looked at me and said, ‘No, he’s not done, he can keep racing. Just let me put this duct tape on!’
I looked at the kid and he was crying. I could see it in his eyes, he wanted to stop.
Thankfully the paramedics arrived just then, moved him out of the way, and put his kid in the ambulance.
Moral of the story? Duct tape doesn’t fix everything, including bad parenting.”
We’re Not Making It Up
“I’ve seen some really stupid people over the years, but a few weeks ago a patient’s family member got into a verbal altercation with me over the fact that I was trying to ‘freeze his mother to death.’ He kept pointing to the digital thermostat displaying a temperature of 23 degrees Celsius (we’re in the U.S., btw). When I gently explained to him that 23 C is not at all cold, he just kept pointing to the display and shouting, ‘You don’t think 23 degrees is cold?! It’s 23 DEGREES IN HERE!’ and acting insane. After multiple attempts to explain to him what Celsius is by myself, the charge nurse, house supervisor, and security, we finally gave up and had him walked out. He was a man in at least his late-30’s who graduated high school and had never heard of Celsius and Fahrenheit. He literally thought we were making it up in an attempt to conceal my efforts to freeze his intubated, critically ill mother to death.”
No, Thats Not Why
“I’m a critical care R.N. working in a hospital in the Pacific Northwest. We had a girl who was about 21 get admitted to our unit for altered mental status. At first, we didn’t know what was wrong with her. When I was her nurse, her family and I were talking about her condition.
They were as baffled as we were about why she was so psychotic and confused as she was hallucinating, having wacky behavior, and etc. Suddenly, the patient’s sister says to me, ‘Oh I wonder if it’s because of what she ate a couple days before she got to the hospital!’ I asked her sister what the patient ate, halfway expecting her to tell me the patient ate some kind of hallucinogenic substance or something.
She said, ‘Well she didn’t eat anything unusual, really. She just hadn’t really eaten that well or wanted to eat much in the couple days before we brought her in. Do you think that could be why she’s acting this way?’ I just stared at this girl for about 5 seconds, as the family eagerly awaited my answer. While wanting to smack this sister upside the head, I told her that not eating well for a couple days won’t make you psychotic. I also told her that her sister probably hadn’t felt like eating much because she was TOO BUSY BEING PSYCHOTIC AND HALLUCINATING.”