Ask a nurse about his or her worst patient and they probably won’t tell you much. But give them an anonymous thread on the internet and they’ll spill all their strangest, saddest and funniest stories. We’ve scoured Tumblr and Reddit to bring you the best of the best (or worst?) patients.
First, birth control and how babies are made are common areas of misconception which means nurses spend a lot of time explaining the birds and the bees. Thanks for nothing Sex Ed!
“I had a young woman pick up her Nuvaring (a ring inserted vaginally for birth control). She came back in a month to pick up a new one and was wearing her Nuvaring around her wrist as a bracelet.”
“I once had a 20-year-old patient who didn’t know that having sex would lead to pregnancy. She had no idea.”
“A patient comes in very upset. She’s pregnant, and she doesn’t understand why because she’s on the pill. Upon talking to her at great length, I find out that she only takes the pills on the days that she is sexually active — and at no other time.”
“Had a patient tell me smoking was her method of birth control, because she’d heard that infertility was one of the side effects of smoking.”
“I had a patient come in for an STD check. She was very upset and continued to tell me that she only had one partner. Progressing through my assessment she further divulged that even if he was sleeping with other people it shouldn’t matter ‘because he uses a condom every time and he makes sure to wash it thoroughly after every use.'”
“The doctor prescribed a patient estrogen patches and told her to stick one patch on herself every other day. At the next follow-up she said she didn’t like the patches because she’d been “running out of space.” I didn’t think to clarify to her that she should have been placing a new patch and removing the one from yesterday each day. Very amusing. She indeed was covered in sticky patches.”
Parenting comes with a sharp learning curve, so I think new parents should get a break on doing dumb stuff. These parents, however… well let’s just say nurses have saved a lot of kids a lot of pain.
“I’ve had to tell more than one parent that their infant shouldn’t be drinking Dr. Pepper out of their bottle.”
“Had a lady who measured her baby’s temperature by pre-heating the oven and putting one hand in front of it while the other hand was on the baby’s forehead. She told the nurse her baby’s fever was about 250 degrees.”
“Some poor woman thought she would have to stick needles in her nipples every time she breastfed her baby. She had no idea the ducts open naturally.”
Just like some patients have a special gift for not knowing how their body works, nurses have a special talent for explaining basic anatomy.
“I once had to use the word ‘d***’ instead of penis because the patient didn’t know the proper term for male genitalia.”
“I had a patient who listed oxygen as an allergy.”
“I had to explain to a 26-year-old woman that she doesn’t pee out of her vagina.”
“A patient informed us that she believed that the real reason women go into menopause is all of the pent up sexual frustration from having unfulfilled desires because they still want sex but men won’t touch them anymore because they’re not attractive anymore. All of this unfulfilled sexual desire eventually manifests as hot flashes.”
“A panicked 29-year-old came to the office for corn in his stool. He genuinely thought something was wrong.”
“I’m a veterinary technician. I once had to explain to a frantic client that the ticks she had frantically been trying to remove from her male dog’s belly with tweezers were actually his nipples. I also told her she had an extremely well-behaved, patient dog.”
Medical terminology is tricky, even for the pros, which is why nurses also sometimes have to act as interpreters between doctor and patient.
“A patient once wrote they had had a ‘fatal heart attack’ on their intake form.”
“I had to explain to a patient that despite the name an analgesic (a painkiller) has nothing to do with anal and you are supposed to take it by mouth. This was after she’d finished one prescription.”
“A patient told me she’d been diagnosed as ‘sick as hell.’ It took a lot of calling around to figure out her last doctor had told her she had ‘sickle cell,’ as in anemia.”
You put what where?
“Had a man come in so constipated I had to dig the [fecal matter] out with my fingers. I told him what was up and he said, ‘Um, I used to smuggle heroin and I’m not sure what you’re going to find up there.’ I was not overly gentle.”
“One of the patients was complaining the cat allergy medicine we gave her wasn’t working (formulated in an inhaler). Turns out she was spraying the inhaler on her cat. We had to explain to her that she needs to inhale it.”
“A man got a vibrator stuck in his butt [and] didn’t learn his lesson the first time. He tried to fish it out with tongs. Then he had two things stuck in his butt.”