Remember when the emergency room was for emergencies? If you're saying to your self that it still is, then you are one of the smart ones. A lot of people seem to think it's a place to go for minor health issues when they can't get in to see their doctor or worse when they just don't want to pay for things like pregnancy tests. The doctors and nurses in the following stories share the outrageously stupid reasons why people have come into their emergency rooms.
(Content has been edited for clarity)
There’s No Common Sense Here
“Working as a nurse in community healthcare, one of my job duties was ER diversion. Suffice to say I saw a lot of stupid ER visits. At the top of the list was the person who said, ‘My baby is crying’ Your baby is a baby, that’s what they do. Try feeding him.
Another one was earwax. The patient felt he had too much of it, wanted the doctor to clean it out.
Then there were the pregnancy tests. So many pregnancy tests. One woman who was a frequent flier was in there for a pregnancy test at least once a month (also for cutting her wrists with paper clips, repeated claims of being assaulted by her boyfriend who it turns out did not exist, claims of overdosing, suicidal ideation…that was a really sad case, actually).
This seemed to be a trend among some of the LOL’s – going for more than a day without pooping. I had to have the ‘your digestive system slows down a bit with age’ talk soooo many times it felt like groundhog day.
There were a lot of narcotics seekers, a lot of people looking for doctors notes for work, a lot of common colds and flu cases, and other ailments that were appropriate for a consult in primary care. Probably the most frustrating part of my job but it taught me a lot about how messed up our healthcare system is, and the reasons our healthcare costs are so high. Most of the people I counseled had no idea what a primary care physician was and hadn’t been to the doctor in years. It was crazy.”
“This one is from my mom who worked as an ER nurse when she was younger.
The hospital she worked in was in a fairly rural area, so it wasn’t unusual to see farmers or older people with little to no understanding of how the modern world worked (rural France of the ’80s, yay).
Monday morning, a man in his late 70s arrives, hand covered with a towel. So, my mom goes to take the towel off, and his hand under it is almost cut in half, oozing pus. He said he did that with a garden tool.
Now, the stupid begin.
My mom asks, ‘But, when did you injure yourself exactly?’
The old guy answers, ‘Friday, in the evening. I covered it in tissues and towels all the weekend.’
‘…But, why didn’t you come earlier?’ My mom says.
He says, ‘This place is closed on the weekend. Isn’t it? Isn’t it?’
She also once saw a farmer who kept his boots all the time (and I mean ALL THE TIME), and when they took them off to put him in a shower, they found sprouted wheat between his toes. (But that’s not stupid, just absolutely disgusting)”
Just Can’t Catch A Break
“My dad’s colleague (he is a surgeon) has a story about this guy who was waxing his floor. It’s summer and hot. He’s on his knees and wearing very short shorts. As he is waxing, his junk swings. His cat notices and as do the furry things do scratches the poor dude. He proceeds to bang his head on the metal heater and cracks his forehead. Forty minutes later as the guys at the ER are carrying him to a hospital bed, they hear his story and laugh so hard they drop them on the stairs. He breaks both his arms… Poor guy that must have been one heck of a bad day.”
Don’t Waste Dr. L’s Time
“First off, let me say that the emergency department has many flavors of idiots. They range from patients that try to use the ER as their personal pain medication pharmacy, to the idiot that’s in critical condition because he and his buddies thought it was smart to jump off a building to grab onto a flagpole. As strange and out-of-the-ordinary as these visits seem, they become normal to you after you start working in the ER.
The stupidest reason I’ve seen someone come to the ER was one that involved the most delusional, blatantly disrespectful patient we ever had the displeasure of helping. Let’s call this patient ‘C.’ Now C was a repeat patient that felt entitled to use the ER instead of a primary care doctor because her husband was a HUGE donor to the hospital (she never hesitated to remind us about her husband whenever she visited). This meant that she visited for the most banal of reasons; never anything more than a common cold. But that didn’t matter to her; her husband meant something to the hospital, so logically she did too.
She had a strong sense of entitlement, DEMANDING to be taken care of before patients that actually had life-threatening illnesses, because of, well, her husband. Of course, we took care of C only after the high priority cases were already taken care of. She knew this, but she was rude and condescending to every employee at the hospital nonetheless.
This went on for a while until C made the mistake of pulling one of her stunts when ‘Dr. L’ was on duty. Dr. L was pleasant to every employee at the hospital. However, every nurse could attest to his temper, on account of the shouting you could hear from the break room while he was having one of his daily shouting matches over the phone with his wife. Dr. L was not a man you wanted to make angry, as C soon found out.
While looking over his patient’s charts, Dr. L overheard one of the new nurses asking her colleagues how to deal with C’s ridiculous demands. There is nothing more infuriating to hospital staff, physicians and nurses alike, than a patient that abuses the ER. Dr. L turned bright red as he turned to face the new hire. I swear to God I saw Dr. L’s jugular vein distend as he said, ‘I’ll take care of this,’ emphasizing each syllable through a set of gritted teeth.
Dr. L walked into C’s room, where she awaited him with the biggest self-satisfied grin I’ve ever seen. She thought she had won. The doctor finally came to take care of her wants and needs. This was not the case, however, as Dr. L slammed the door behind him and gave C the tongue-lashing of a lifetime.
Everybody in the ER sort of stopped what they were doing as they heard the muffled roars coming from C’s room. The entire ER wing was filled with Dr. L’s bellowing voice. I could only pick out bits and pieces of what Dr. L was yelling, but most of it was Dr. L calling C out for daring to interfere with the staff when they were trying to save the lives of patients with actual life-threatening illnesses.
After his tirade ended, Dr. L nonchalantly left C’s room and returned to his computer to work on his patient’s charts. The staff, despite being a little shaken up over what had just happened, continued on with their day. I wish I could say poor C was nothing more than shaken up, but that was not the case. I could only describe her affect as being similar to Percy Wetmore’s after John Coffey expelled the sickness out of his mouth and into Percy’s in the movie, ‘The Green Mile.’ Pale, visibly shaking, and taking very small, calculated steps, C left the ER, never to be seen by us again.”
Can’t Say She Isn’t creative
“A friend of mine told me this story: His dad was fresh out of med school and had just started working in the ER. A woman came in with abnormal bleeding during labor. He was trying to figure out where all the blood was coming from, but nothing was making sense. So, he started to deliver the baby. The head was first. He grabbed the head, and it came off in his hands. Blood was gushing everywhere. The woman then reached down, grabs the body, pulled it out and threw it. She ran out of the room. It turned out to be a woman who was trying to escape a mental hospital and had shoved a baby doll in herself as a means of escape.”
On This Episode Of Maury
“A pregnant woman comes in twice to the emergency department for an ultrasound. She wants to know dates so she can inform one of the two candidates he’s going to a be a daddy. I sent her for prenatal care both times.
Also had an elderly woman who couldn’t hear. Ears full of wax so hard we couldn’t remove it.”
Too Much Fun In The Garden
“My mother works in the neuro ICU but spent a while in ER. It’s late at night, and she talks with a doctor on the phone about a gentleman who is coming from a town like 50 miles away for admittance. It’s like 2 a.m., so my mom asks some questions. It turns out this dude is a big deal businessman who has a carrot lodged in his rectum and doesn’t want to visit anywhere local, because, you know, the carrot. So by the time the guy gets there everyone working in the hospital had heard the story and were awaiting his arrival. My mom sees a guy shuffle in the front door, with a pained grimace on his face. She says, ‘You must be Mr. (his name), right this way,’ or whatever they say. She walks him to an exam room and all the while getting her head straight to remain professional. She walks in after him, gestures to a chair, and says, ‘Have a seat.’ Her eyes go wide as she almost but not quite stops a laugh from coming out of her mouth, creating a farting sound. Without a word, she leaves the room and has another nurse take over. They use that special chair for pregnant ladies to make the extraction, which is apparently common practice.”
That’s Not Where That Goes
“My sister-in-law was a nurse in a consistently busy emergency room in a decent sized city. She told me about this time that a doctor who was finishing his residency at the same hospital came in with a silver ring stuck on his junk.
This was a ring meant for a finger, not a… you know.
The funniest thing is, he had to come back to work on Monday and face all of the nurses and other staff that knew why he came in.
Now, I’m all for letting your freak flag fly, especially in one’s own bedroom. I just wonder why in all places, he went to the hospital where he worked.”
It’s All About Patience
“We’ll see a few dozen people with colds, seasonal allergies, vomited once, stubbed their toe, excessive ear wax, rashes that have lasted a week, etc. every night.
What sets them apart in terms of stupidity is whether they can wait patiently to be told to go home or whether they need someone to tell them to go home RIGHT NOW. Like the aforementioned stubbed toe guy hobbling over to me every 15 minutes to ask if they’ve moved from 12 people ahead of them to 11. No jerk, you’ve gone from 12 to 15 because of the three 78-year-olds with the abdominal pain you saw me talking to since the last time you got up.
The art of triage is often about subtly giving a person the notion that they may be more comfortable (and in fact, safer) convalescing their trivial complaint at home. If they think you think they’re a moron you’re going to have a bad time. If they think you have empowered them to courageously tackle their ailment without the assistance of a massive team of licensed and experienced professionals very little can go wrong for you. (Of course, if your assessment sucks and they’re dying you, and the patient are both screwed).”
Sometimes It’s Just Funny
“When I did a rotation at this one hospital they had the story that apparently made the paper because a women came to the hospital because she stubbed her toe. However, when she called 911, they only sent out an officer to pick her up because it was in the middle of a snowstorm and all the ambulances were busy with real emergencies since the roads were a nightmare. Well, she complained, and moaned and refused the indignity of being taken to the ER in a squad car for her stubbed toe. She had to wait a few hours, but they eventually took her. The ER treated her horribly, and she made the nightly news and looked like a total jerk.
A kid at a hospital I was working at came into by ambulance for a burning sensation on his junk…. because he was pleasuring himself with shaving cream and it caused some chemical irritation. EMS wouldn’t take him home. I’m sure it was fun explaining to his mom why she had to pick him up from the ER for the diagnosis of ‘skin chafing.’
Another kid, same kids hospital (happened to a fellow resident, not me), put peanut butter on his junk and offered it his German shepherd… yeah, you know where this is going. Let’s just say this kid will never get ahead in life, no no no, wait, let’s just say he’s not a very good tipper. Okay, let’s just call it what it is, he lost the glans off his ‘area.’
Too many stories to count for parents that bring their kids in for the dumbest stuff ever like a runny nose on a kid that is happy, feeding well, and having no problems other than boogers. THEN they all bring in their other five children and want to all ‘checked out’ just to be safe.
Another time at a hospital in Michigan, this young couple (one 17, one 18) had a baby in high school that was three days old. They brought the baby in because his feet were blue. Not blue like cyanotic (meaning inadequate blood flow), but like slightly purple because his toes were a little cold. That I honestly didn’t mind because the baby was beautiful, and they were brand new parents who obviously didn’t know the first thing about raising a child, which allowed me to give them a little education.
At a children’s hospital, I had a 6-year-old boy fake a seizure because his mom wouldn’t let him stay up and watch Freddy Krueger. She yelled from the hall, ‘Somebody please come in here my boy is shaking!’
I run, and I looked at him with his eyes open and said, ‘Hey buddy, what’s going on?’
The boy said, ‘I don’t know, I’m just shaking.’ It was hysterical. It took everything to not just bust out laughing. The mother was obviously an idiot. It turns out this 6-year-old had seen more horror movies than me, which is where he learned what people look like when they seize or get possessed.
My last stupidest reason is for pregnancy tests. This only happens with people on public aid. They don’t want to pay a dollar to get a pregnancy test at Dollar General, so they wait upwards of 75 minutes to get into an ER to tell us about how they had done it with some guy four months ago, haven’t had a period since then, have felt morning sickness and wonder, ‘Doctor, do you think I might be pregnant.’ All they want is a free pregnancy test. It is so frustrating and a huge waste of public tax dollars. They have no idea that coming there cost taxpayers hundreds of dollars just to save them a dollar.”
It’s About Honor And Bravery
“Some redneck ‘death match’ wrestlers decided it would be a good idea to throw one another through a burning table. The guy who went through the table got his clothes set on fire.
He didn’t get burned too badly though, just some seecond-degree burns but whoever ran the wrestling event decided to stop the match, as the guy was already bleeding profusely. He was already bleeding profusely because, during ‘death matches,’ they hit each other with light tubes, throw each other through panes of glass, and use other weapons on each other. Apparently, he got cut bad after he went through some glass, but they decided to continue the match. As well, because he was wrestling around on top of shards of glass, he had dozens of small cuts too.
I talked to the guy, and apparently, second-degree burns, massive blood loss, and dozens of small cuts earn you $10.”
The Story Behind The Lie Is A Bit Darker
“I was doing a rotation in an ER for my EMT certification, and the night I was there started off rather slowly. This was a rather small ER with seven beds and only one doctor there, but it was a mellow crew that was eager to show me the ropes. Anyways, as the hours passed with a few people trickling in, we finally got a call from an ambulance alerting us that there was a stabbing victim on the way.
The patient is rolled in on the gurney, and all I saw is a knife sticking out of his head. This was your ordinary, run of the mill steak knife and it was lodged underneath this man’s eye. Had to be at least two inches deep. Eventually, we sedated the patient as he was wheeled off to the operating room and I ask one of the nurses to see what the story was. It turns out that he and his lady friend were preparing a nice romantic dinner and as they were setting the table, the Mrs. began throwing the silverware across the room with some success before she put a little too much velocity on one of the knives thus lodging itself under this poor man’s eye.
Judging from the bruises on her body and from his scuffed knuckles, someone ain’t telling the truth.”
Sorry I Can’t Come To The Phone Right Now
“I’ve spent too many years in ER as a nurse and also as an IC Paramedic to list a lot of the stupid things I’ve seen, but the best one that pops to mind is the guy with rectal pain. The patient was also missing his mobile. Yep, we found it – right up there. Funnily enough, it was set to vibrate only (and yes doctor had gloves on to check that). The best line was from the patient, ‘I guess I won’t be using that phone again.’
Working in this environment was amazing (am out of it now) as you do make a real difference to peoples lives, but you also must have an incredible sense of humor to cope with everything as well – the good, the tragic, the uplifting and of course the crazy. One thing I learned early was that even though there are ‘time wasters’ out there, it takes five minutes to make them a cup of tea and have a quick chat, hold their hand if they seem scared, etc. It makes a massive difference in their world, and you know what? Sometimes it makes your day a whole lot better too.”
He’s Definitely Not A Big Fan Of This Dare Anymore
“Back during my ER rotation, a patient came to the ER because he had fallen on a fan… while naked. So naturally, his area was swollen, and he was in a lot of pain. After careful examination and questioning, he finally admitted he was doing a dare that consisted in passing his junk between the blades of a fan in the highest setting without being hit.”
Remember When The Emergency Room Was For Emergency
“I had a college-aged student come into my emergency room via EMS for…. a sunburn. It was first degree to his back, chest, neck, fronts of legs, and face. He had spent the weekend tubing a river while drinking and in his inebriated state he had forgotten to put on sunscreen later passing out in the Texas sun.
I have also treated many ingrown toenails, many who have vomited once but felt fine after.
‘My child felt warm.’ No other symptoms and the family did not own a thermometer.
As well I’ve heard, ‘My primary care physician couldn’t seem me for x weeks, so I decided to come here,’ and, ‘I need an MRI, but there were no available appointments for weeks/months.’ Also, ‘I need a prescription refill- I ran out weeks ago.'”
A Bit Nippy Out There, Eh?
“I’m reading the triage note, and the chief complaint is, ‘I think I have hypothermia.’
As I look up from the computer, I see this patient walking casually by with his jacket unzipped. The nurse rooms him, and he promptly asks for a sandwich and makes himself comfortable.
Yes, he’s a frequent flier. No, he wasn’t a homeless guy looking for warmth and food, and it was probably 50 degrees outside that day.”
The Human Body Is Confusing
“It’s amazing how many women confuse a heavy flow menstrual period with a miscarriage. Have had several frantic women call ambulances and come into the ER, and when confronted with, ‘How many weeks along are you?’
They inevitably answer with, ‘I didn’t even know I was pregnant.’
One girl was convinced she’d had four miscarriages in the last four months, each about three weeks apart. Fun times in the ER.”
But It Just Stings So Bad!
“In the ER we overheard the paramedics saying someone called 911 to get a ride to the hospital via ambulance for getting shampoo in their eye. The paramedics denied their request (it’s a privately owned company so they can.)
Also, a man came in with a folded up umbrella up his rear end.”