Doctors Describe The Worst Thing They've Seen In A Patient - That Other Doctors Missed

Voting Rules
Vote up the worst medical mistakes.

Everyone is human, we all make mistakes. But, sadly, in the case of doctors, surgeons, and other medical professionals, those mistakes can sometimes cost lives. Luckily for these patients, they were able to find secondary doctors who caught errors and mistakes made by the first. In some cases, they get the problem fixed in the nick of time. It just goes to show the importance of getting a second opinion if you truly feel like something is wrong. 

So check out the stories below of the times healthcare providers discovered other doctors' mistakes, and try not to get too paranoid in the meantime.

  • 1
    1,294 VOTES

    Months And Months Of Neglect

    Posted by u/zeratmd:

    Resident doctor. We saw a kid in the ER for difficulty walking. He had been slowly losing the ability to walk over months, and also had random unexplained projectile vomiting episodes. Looking at his records, he saw his doctor several times, who X-rayed one hip... then the other hip... then gave some Zofran, etc.

    Turns out on exam he is blatantly ataxic (bad coordination) and can't even stand. Failed all our bedside neurological examinations for cerebellum function. It was obvious to me, and I'm not even good at this yet. Did a CT scan. Big-*ss tumor in his cerebellum. It was obstructing fluid drainage in his brain, too, raising his intracranial pressure and causing the vomiting. Had to call in the neurosurgeons overnight for emergency drain, and he went to ICU. Later, had more surgery for the tumor. My supervisor got pretty emotional about it, actually.

    ...To any med students reading this: 1. Do an exam. 2. It's okay to cry sometimes.

    1,294 votes
  • 2
    1,258 VOTES

    Occupational Hazards

    Posted by u/Nuck-sie:

    A physical therapist presented with stroke-like symptoms (weakness on one side, blurriness, super high blood pressure, etc.). He works in the hospital, told his manager he was feeling these symptoms, and was directed to the Occupational Health & Safety department. They saw him there and told him, “You’re fine, go to a walk in clinic after work.” He went back to work, and luckily his manager was like, “Nope! Go to the ER.” We got him there, and a CT was ordered, stat. Turns out he had one current intracranial infarct (an area of necrotic tissue) and three old infarcts that never got diagnosed.

    Man had four strokes and was told he was fine and to go to a walk in clinic after work. Wow.

    1,258 votes
  • 3
    1,848 VOTES

    Gallbladder Gone Bad

    Posted by u/aimeed72:

    I'm a nurse... My sister had her gallbladder out, routine surgery, and two days later woke up at 4 am in searing pain. She went to the ER by ambulance, and I met her there.

    The ER docs were all apparently convinced she was a drug seeker, and did not even conduct a physical exam beyond taking her vitals. They sedated her to shut her up because she was just yelling, “Help me! Help me! I'm dying!” They did eventually do an MRI but said it was negative and sent her home. She didn’t want to leave, insisting something was terribly wrong, but they said they would call security and have her thrown out.

    At this point, I’d like to mention that she had no history of drug or alcohol misuse.

    She continued to get worse at home, and the next day, went to a different hospital. They did a workup and found that the metal clip that closed off the bile duct during the surgery had cut right through the tissue, and she had a large bile leak that was literally burning all her abdominal organs. She had to have three surgeries to fix it and was hospitalized for nine days, not to mention left with chronic pain from adhesions and chemical burns.

    When the new hospital finally acquired the MRI from the original ER visit, she was told that the leak was small but clearly visible in that image.

    1,848 votes
  • 4
    1,534 VOTES

    She Lost Her Foot

    Posted by u/the_taco_belle:

    I work in EMS. We got a call for a female with leg pain. When we arrive on scene, this woman’s leg is three times the size of her other one, blue and purple, and she has no pulse in her foot. She fell on ice a few days prior and the urgent care didn’t do any X-rays, told her she had a sprain, and gave her a walking boot. In reality, her tibia and fibula were both so badly fractured they were cutting the blood vessels and muscle tissue. She lost her foot.

    I honestly don’t know why they did what they did, but it was serious malpractice. I never ended up having to testify but we were all deposed and our reports were used.

    1,534 votes
  • 5
    1,267 VOTES

    "Go Home, It's Nothing"

    Posted by u/Ada303:

    They told him, "Go home, there's nothing wrong with you." When he came to me, we barely saved him - he had a ruptured appendix.

    1,267 votes
  • 6
    1,137 VOTES

    Anaesthesia Debunks Asthma Diagnosis

    Posted by u/ExuberantStarchild:

    I was working nights, and a patient came in for a nailbed repair under general anaesthesia (it was a slow night). As they're anaesthetising him, he aspirates so we do a chest X-ray to see if he's got any spit/blood in his lungs. What we didn't know is that, prior to this emergency surgery, he'd been going to his general practioner for over six months complaining about chest tightness. They'd put him on various different asthma medications, but none had any effect on him.

    The X-ray showed a massive dark mass in his left lung. We kept him asleep and transferred him to ICU. His wife and three-year-old daughter were waiting for him on the ward. We had to tell them where he'd gone, why he'd gone there, and what was going to happen.

    He [succumbed to] lung cancer within the month.

    1,137 votes