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

Updated March 11, 2021 20.2k votes 2k voters 55.7k views17 items

List RulesVote 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.

  • 5

    "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.

    Big mistake?
  • 6

    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.

    Big mistake?
  • 7

    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.

    Big mistake?
  • 8

    It Turned Out To Be Cancer

    Posted by u/LAL17:

    I found an obvious, huge rectal cancer on a patient who was previously told over and over again that she had hemorrhoids.

    Posted by u/SagaciousMarmot:

    I run into this a lot as a surgeon. Very few primary care providers will do a rectal exam. Just tell the patient that rectal bleeding is probably hemorrhoids and give them ointment. If it doesn’t resolve within a few months, I get the referral for “hemorrhoid surgery” and find the rectal mass. Either that, or find a colon cancer on the colonoscopy that they should have ordered months ago.

    Big mistake?