Graveyard Shift
181 voters

Medical Professionals Share The Terrifying Times Their Patient Went From Bad To Worse

Updated August 3, 2021 1.7k votes 181 voters 7.3k views17 items

List RulesVote up the medical moments that are downhill disasters.

Plenty of people have those days when plans fall apart and everything is going wrong, but when this happens for a doctor, it can be an outright disaster. These healthcare professionals - doctors, nurses, EMTs, and more - are all sharing the moments in their careers that made them say, "Well, this just got even worse," whether it's a result of unhealthy habits, particularly sneaky illnesses, or simply awful luck. Read through, vote up the ones that best exemplify your medical nightmares, and thank the heavens for good doctors who try their best to help their patients even when it seems like everything's turned upside down.

  • 1

    Wear A Helmet

    From Redditor u/localhelic0pter7:

    As an EMT trainee, I did my first ride-along on an ambulance and we went to check out a guy who fell at a skate park. When we got there, he was conscious, could walk, and was talking coherently. He'd fallen and hit his head, no helmet. But we did a full inspection anyway, carefully avoiding the obvious bruise forming above his eye. Not much blood, pupils were normal, didn't seem bad, probably a concussion and a black eye.

    Well, he could have turned us down, but we talked him into coming with us to the ER just to double-check everything. So we get him in the ambulance, lay him down, and it was my job to check his blood pressure. It had gone down significantly since first check. Well, it didn't take long, and he seemed to be losing consciousness, getting sleepy, and then... he starts throwing up blood. That would be the "things just got even worse" moment.

    That part we skipped, touching the bruise above his eye because it was obviously going to hurt him? Well, we shouldn't have skipped it. If we had touched it, it would have felt super mushy, because all that bone around his eye and cheek was smashed. And all the blood? It was draining down his throat and into his stomach.

    He ended up having emergency brain surgery, where, on top of all the other stuff, they found and removed a tumor. Pretty wild for a first ride-along, hope he's doing well now... and wearing a helmet.

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  • 2

    The Disease Spread Further Than They Could Have Imagined

    From Redditor u/Allopathological:

    I saw a patient on the medicine service who had a history of kidney cancer, now in remission. He comes in from an outside hospital with some imaging allegedly showing a focal mass in one kidney. It doesn’t look like it spread. If it’s actually just a focal lesion, we can chop off the tip of his kidney and cure him while retaining most of his kidney function. Bad situation but not awful.

    Surgeon wants better imaging so we send him to radiology pre-op. We pick up the phone and speak with the rads attending: The cancer has spread just a liiiiiiiiitle more than we thought now to involve the renal veins. Essentially taking him from Stage 2 to Stage 3. Okay, bad but still not terrible. We can work with that. Then the radiologist mentions he sees shadows in the liver and brain. After the dust settles, everyone agrees that this man actually has severely metastatic disease, Stage 4 and very advanced.

    The worst part, in my opinion, was telling him. Remember, this man came in thinking he would likely have a short surgery and go home cured. The surgeon walks in and says, “I’m sorry John Smith, but the cancer has spread, and you most likely have about six months to live.”

    His son, about five years younger than me, was standing there next to him when the lead surgeon told him.

    This was about two years ago now. I often think about that man and his son. I find my human brain still hoping he was the miracle exception, but my doctor brain knows that probably didn’t happen.

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  • 3

    They've Got Bigger Feet To Fry

    From Redditor u/mfitzy87:

    Back when I was in residency, there was a patient who came in for a quick office visit to test the circulation in his legs. It’s a really basic test called Ankle-Brachial index where you basically just put blood pressure cuffs in different spots on the arms and legs to check for atherosclerosis in blood vessels. It should take maybe 15 minutes for the whole thing.

    So he’s sitting there in a hospital gown and those sweet yellow grippy hospital socks. We run the test and there’s some trouble getting a reading in his left ankle. Try again. Still no reading.

    We’re all checking the machine, and the blood pressure cuff seal. Finally, someone takes off his sock to see if it was in the way. The sole of his foot was totally black. One of the other residents goes to squeeze his foot and his thumb sinks about one inch in... One resident vomits. Another nearly passes out. A tough-as-nails nurse comes over and goes, “Nope. F*ck no. Get him to vascular.”

    He had necrotizing fasciitis. Ended up having a below-the-knee amputation that night.

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  • 4

    At Least She Didn't Go Alone

    From Redditor u/poofseal:

    I had an elderly patient once whose heart stopped and was brought back. She had an extensive workup done, but we never found a great reason for why she was going through this. Then, just as she was getting better and had her breathing tube removed, her heart stopped again. We did CPR and were able to get a pulse back, but she remained super sick all night. We were supporting her heart with a mechanical device, and she was on high doses of medications to keep her blood pressure up. We were doing everything possible but things were not looking good.

    We ended up calling her elderly husband and asked him to come in as we were worried she would not survive the day. Her husband told us he would be there within the hour.

    Well, two to three hours passed, and he didn’t show up. We tried calling and couldn’t reach him. Then, somehow someone found out that he was actually in our ER (!!). Turns out, he had left his house, fell, and broke his hip. As we hastily tried to arrange a way to get him upstairs from the ER to see his dying wife, her heart again stopped. We were actively doing CPR as they wheeled her husband on a stretcher in a casted leg to her bedside, at which point, he called off the code.

    Everyone was crying. It was pretty awful.

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