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Physicians Share Their Medical Horror Stories

Discussion in 'Doctors Cafe' started by Hadeel Abdelkariem, Nov 29, 2019.

  1. Hadeel Abdelkariem

    Hadeel Abdelkariem Golden Member

    Apr 1, 2018
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    Who needs a horror flick when practicing medicine is frightening enough? Forget Tales from the Crypt. Here’s Tales from Beyond the Script.


    An MDLinx survey recently asked physicians to share frightening stories from their work. Two-dozen doctors responded to the open-ended questionnaire, telling us all about terrifying patient encounters, hair-raising cases, and other medical horrors.

    We also asked for physicians’ supernatural stories and surprisingly got only a few. Perhaps this doctor’s response explains why:

    “Real life cases are much scarier,” wrote an allergy and immunology specialist.

    Blood and guts
    The doctors who responded to the MDLinx survey gave us enough blood-and-guts stories to fill a Rob Zombie movie. Some were quite long and others were, ahem, a bit short, such as this one from a surgeon who’s been wielding the scalpel for more than 25 years:

    “Man with amputated penis,” he wrote.

    An anesthesiologist shared her story, which offers a fresh take on the phrase, under the gun:

    “I had to suture the face of one of the FBI’s most wanted while being surrounded by guns pointed at me and the prisoner.”

    In the spirit of the ‘50s cult classic, The Trollenberg Terror, doctors gave us two crawling eye-variety tales. Don’t worry. They both have happy endings:

    “A close friend of my daughter was in a horrible accident, with frontal lobe coming out of an eye socket,” a surgeon tells us. He continues, “After a 12-hour reconstructive surgery, she survived with no neurosurgical symptoms.”

    “A patient was in a scrap with another lady, who pulled the patient’s eyeball out of its socket,” reports a 25-year veteran emergency medicine physician. “Everyone was excited, but I just walked into the room, established her vision was okay, sedated and anesthetized her, and with gentle gloved fingers, replaced the globe into the socket.”

    Nothing to see here, folks.

    Accidents will happen
    Patients do the darnedest things. Sometimes, what they do can be downright frightening. A psychiatrist with more than 25 years of experiences shared this story from his internship:

    “Police came to the emergency room and told me to grab some IV bottles and accompany them to the railroad yard, where a drunk student who had just graduated tried to circumvent going around a stopped railroad train by crawling under it. While crawling under, the train lurched pinning his leg. The police brought me to the site where the student was lodged under the train, still conscious. Firefighters were unable to extricate him. I had to crawl under the train and place an IV using a flashlight in order to administer intravenous fluids and a narcotic.”

    Another surgeon with more than 25 years of experience tells a cautionary tale about electricity:

    “A young man walked into a high tension wire. He had an entrance wound on the left side of his face and exit wound on his right leg.”

    Psyched out
    The human mind can be a most frightening place. Especially when things aren’t going quite right inside. Two veteran psychiatrists shared these stories, one with a special Halloween twist:

    “I had a patient brought in by police on Halloween in the 1980s. His face was green, as if it had been painted. He was hallucinating, paranoid, delusional. I asked police to go to his home and see if they could find out what made his face green, thinking he might have inhaled something from a paint can. It turned out he had emptied out diphenhydramine capsules and snorted them, causing an anticholinergic delirium.”

    Another psychiatrist was a bit more understated. With more than 25 years in the field, one surmises these sorts of things just don’t rattle you anymore:

    “I had a patient who had murdered both of his parents while psychotic. I just gave him a lot of room when I saw him.”

    Jump scares
    Would it truly be Halloween without a few jump scares? These doctors certainly had some memorable ones:

    “I was performing an autopsy (got your attention?) on an elderly gentleman, alongside a senior female pathologist,” writes a female pathologist, who has spent more than 25 years doing the work. “We didn’t have a lot of history, but did know the gentleman had metastatic cancer. While dissecting the abdomen, my partner found a mass in the pelvis. She and I looked at it, discussed it, and then she poked it a few times with her finger, noting the texture. When we looked up, the gentleman’s ‘manhood’ was standing at attention! It was truly a case of rising from the dead! Seems this gentleman had a penile erectile implant that we didn’t know about, and the pelvic ‘mass’ was the reservoir for the implant fluid. We panicked, knowing our diener, an elderly gentleman, was due to come back in any moment to assist with the removed organs. We couldn’t get it to go down! So finally, we threw a sheet over it and made a run for the door.”

    It wouldn’t be Halloween without at least one tale of things that creep and crawl:

    “A patient came in complaining of something being in his ear,” writes a family medicine physician with more than 25 years in the business. “When I looked into the canal with an otoscope, a live spider literally jumped toward the scope. Of course being magnified, it seemed huge. I let out an involuntary scream. I did manage to flush it out however.”

    The same psychiatrist who told us about the incident in the railroad yard also shared this story that had him running.

    “Another incident that occurred while I was in the Indian Health Service happened when I was told that an Indian man was dying in his tin hut in the desert on an unmarked road. I rode my motorcycle out to the location where I was confronted by a large, threatening German shepherd guarding the little tin hut, which had no plumbing and no electricity. I drove my motorcycle around a small hill, snuck up to the door of the little tin shack and, when the dog came racing around the corner, entered the shack and closed the door behind me, locking the dog out. I had to use a match to see the man lying on a straw mat with his head hung over near a bowl of water, barely breathing. In order to leave and summon help, I opened the door and, when the dog ran in, I ran out and closed the door behind me leaving the dog inside.”

    Thank you to all of the physicians who took the time to share their stories with us. We hope your Halloween is a lot less frightening than your crazy medical cases.


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