AskReddit recently posed this question to nurses, doctors, surgeons, and other hospital workers: What are some of your hospital/ER horror stories?
As you can imagine, these 17 stories might make you a little queasy – they are pretty graphic, in a medical sort of way. Make sure to wait 30 minutes after eating before you read this article.
1. God Bless America
“My wife is a nurse. When she was back in college she did a rotation at the local VA. One day she heard some muffled yelling coming out of one of the rooms. She poked her head in the door to see if the guy was ok. Turns out he was standing in the middle of the room completely naked and singing ‘God Bless America’ whilst masturbating.”
2. Google It. Seriously. Do it.
“I passed out on top of a patient after seeing her prolapsed rectum fall out.”
3. Liquid Gold
“So had this probably 300-400 lb woman on the ward, they think she may have a bladder infection. Since she’s so big, no hope in the world of catching a proper specimen the normal way, so have to put a catheter in to drain the urine.
There’s me holding back skin/fat folds on the right, another nurse on the left, and the third nurse holding the tube trying to find the right hole. I”m holding probably 20lbs worth of extra skin back and no luck, so have to brace my forearms against the skinfolds, to try and pull back even more from around the hoo-ha area.
Eventually see a little dimple, YES! SUCCESS!! Tries putting the catheter in, but not going in for some reason, while the patient starts saying, “oh, oh, oh, I don’t think that’s quite right, that hurts, you’re too far forward,” Turns out the clitoris doesn’t pack on fatty tissue, so looked like a sunken little dot when surrounded by the pounds and pounds of extra fat. So we had to go even deeper to find that liquid gold.”
5. Who Needs A Scrotum, Anyways?
“A man was brought in because he was so high that he tore off his own scrotum. Not as in ripped a little bit…he tore it off by himself.”
“A Royal Marine, not long back from Belize, came into casualty at the hospital I work at. He had a ‘cyst’ swollen on the back of his neck. The guy was in agony. 3 local anaesthetic injections later, the doc attempted to lance the thing and it moved. He peeled off the top layer of skin to reveal a massive larvae wriggling underneath. About the size of a 50 pence coin. It popped out without any problems and was huge when it was unravelled. The hole in the marines neck was clean, amazingly. Great example of a host.”
7. I Think Your Patient Was A Zombie…
“I had to do a trach change on a patient with dementia, HIV, and valvular Herpes (in the lung). This patient was out of their mind and tried to bite people. While changing the trach, the patient gave me a demon stare the whole time. The patient coughed at me, spraying blood on my face shield, almost hitting my eye with HIV/Herpes blood.”
“Worked in a suburban hospital almost a decade ago. There was a multiple vehicle accident in the middle of the night. Patient arrives in the ER with his foot almost completely detached from his ankle. Patient was apparently standing on the car brake to try and stop his vehicle during the accident. After impact, his foot must have been compressed in such a way that it became at a right angle from the rest of his body. When you walked past his bed in the ER you passed one normal foot and then were staring into the two distal portions of the tibia and fibula, hanging tendons and ligaments, muscles that were marred, dripping blood, and a hanging foot.”
9. Unexpected Visitors
“Not likely one people are expecting, but anyway, there are lots of stories about hospitals being haunted. Basically, if you believe in ghosts, you gotta believe a place where probably 95% of deaths occur in Western society is gonna have a few extra spirits lurking.
So a woman I work with tells this story how she showed up to work early for her shift, around 6:30 a.m., things are pretty much dead quiet (no pun intended). She gets on the empty elevator, hits the button for the 9th floor, elevator goes up to the 11th floor, doors open, no one there, doors close, back down to the 9th floor, as she gets off sees an old woman standing behind her in the elevator.”
10. Odd Indeed
“I worked at an Anatomic Pathology Laboratory which was divided up into differect sections. I spent most of my time in Cytology which is mostly swabs like PAP Smears, but we received all the lab’s Gynecological specimens first then passed them on to other sections like Histology or PCR. This was by far the strangest “specimen” ever: a disturbed woman had been going to the beach, picking out shells, then inserting them into her vagina.
After a while she fell ill (horrific infection) and the family took her to the hospital. They were just compacted up inside of her, as many as she could fit. It was so atrocious since they were dirty but the poor woman had cut herself with jagged shards of shell. We received the shells to document (for social workers/doctors/possible evidence of neglect on her care-takers) and store but once all charges/suspicions were cleared, they were destroyed with all the other medical waste. It was disgusting but the oddness of it all just topped it.”
11. Nearly Headless
“My good friend is a nurse’s attendant. The strangest thing she’s ever told me about was a woman who came into the ER after a suicide attempt. This woman had “slit” her wrists and her throat. She had almost completely severed one hand and her head was being held on by the skin at the back of her neck and maybe a bit of muscle. Somehow the paramedics got her to the hospital alive. My friend has to hold this woman’s head in place while the doctors did their thing. The patient died (to no ones suprise) and the doctor made my friend look down the neck with the head held back as a little anatomy lesson.”
12. Trouser Snake Trap
“My mom used to be a nurse a few years ago and she said that a guy came into the emergency room with a large trench coat on saying that he needed immediate attention. When they brought him back, they took of the trench coat to reveal a skinny metal pipe stuck around his dick. She said that it was starting to turn purple and that to get the pipe off, they need to cut it. The patient only heard cut it off though and assumed that they were going to relieve him of his manhood, so he starts screaming and shouting and trying to leave. Just at that moment a janitor walks in with a pair of bolt cutters and the patient turns sheet white and passes out. Finally they cut off the pipe and the guy gets to walk away with his trouser snake intact.”
13. Not That Kind of Bush
“Was shadowing a doctor deciding if I wanted to be one (currently awaiting my interviews) and this woman came into the ER. I go in with my doctor and she’s acting very strangely. The doc asks her why she’s here and she says….I have leaves growing out of my vagina. We look at each other, look back at her, and both say ‘what?’ at the same time. So she strips down and sure enough…leaves. I grew up on a farm and recognize it right away but keep my mouth shut.
He puts in the speculum, says AHA! and extracts a hollowed out potato end. As soon as she sees it she’s like, “OH YEAH!, I forgot about that.” (this woman clearly has some other shit going on).
So she tells us how her and her boyfriend wanted to have sex but didn’t have a condom and couldn’t find her cervical cap. They got creative and made one out of a potato…and she “guesses she forgot about it”.
The image of leaves growing out of a vagina will haunt me to my dying day.”
14. Not What A Stoma Is For, BTW
“So my attending told me that during his residency for surgery, he used to work in the clinic waiting for surgical cases to come through. This young guy came in with a colostomy stoma (opening) problem and wanted to get it checked out. So he goes to inspect it, pulls off the colostomy bag and there were ulcers and warts all over the stoma. Turns out the guy was prostituting himself and letting guys fuck his colostomy hole.”
15. ‘Tis But A Scratch
“This one comes from my buddy who was in EMT training:
They get a call responding from what they originally thought was a gunshot wound. Apparently they called it over the radio as just a chest wound.
She arrives at the scene and there’s a guy lying in his garage with a gaping hole through his chest. He’s dead.
She’s looking around the body and trying to see where the entry hole was for the bullet when she is informed by other paramedics already on the scene that there wasn’t one.
Turns out, the guy was masturbating with a broom up his ass. To get a good angle and really get it up there, he was doing this while standing on a stool. While on the stool, he slipped off the stool, landing on the broom that was poking out of his behind.
The broom snapped inside of him and a shard came out through his chest.”
16. Mental Illness Is Real, Y’all
“My father works in the ER of a major hospital in MA. One day they get a call to prep for a man with a pen in his eye. Usually no big deal except that this was a psych patient and he’s the one who put the pen there by holding it near his eye and running face first into a wall. Luckily it didn’t pentrate his brain but he was completely catatonic. Did not respond to anything but was completely awake.
My dad, fearing that there is nothing stopping this man from just shoving it the rest of the way in with his hand, restrains the man just in case. Surgery goes fine and they send him up to recovery. Sadly, as when many hospital accident occur, there was a shift change. The new shift didnt know to restrain the man and he ended up biting his finger off and wiping his blood on any person who came near, and when no one would approach him he would just fling his bloody stump around spraying blood everywhere.”
17. When The System Is Scarier Than The Injuries
“My worst hospital horror stories come from my mother, who was an RN for many years.
The first is that the hospital will happily lose incriminating documents, and it’s actually legal. Say for example you were that poor Orlando woman who after giving birth was told that she could either have all her limbs amputated or die. The hospital told her it was because she was diagnosed with a rare form of Strep A, when in fact it’s because the obstetrician prescribed an overdose of epinephrine during the birth and it caused her peripheral vascular system to clamp off until gangrene set in. Let’s say her lawyer walks into the front door, plunks down a subpoena, and walks out again. The hospital’s administrators, and nurses, will pull the woman’s file, go through it with any doctors who saw the woman, and destroy any parts of the file that may show any wrongdoing. Only then do they open the subpoena. If the subpoena ain’t open yet, the files are still technically the property of the hospital, and they’ll do what they want with them. And this shit is common knowledge.
The next worse thing is OR deaths. OR deaths aren’t common, but they still happen. What an OR team will typically do, if a patient is dead because it was a sudden injury or because someone fucked up, is wheel the patient out into the hall. That way it’s a post- or pre-op death. It’s not investigated by a medical examiner that way, and it doesn’t go against the surgeon’s numbers (surgeons have records indicating what deaths took place while under their knife, so they’ll do anything to pad their numbers and keep them looking spotless.) Also, in cases where a death occurred because of some blatant screw-up, after it’s reported, the surgical staff will repair the body so what exactly happened cannot be easily determined in the case of a medical examination. They then disappear. Any records indicating who was present are “lost,” and consequently rewritten to give an alibi to whatever medical personnel was most likely responsible for the death of a patient.
Basically, you’re more likely to fear a hospital’s medical staff than you are injuries or disease.”
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