Hospitals are very scary places for most people. They are filled with sick people and terrible news. Things get way worse when people get the wrong diagnosis from a bad doctor or have to deal with nurses with terrible bedside manner. Instead of leaving feeling better, as doctors and nurses should, patients leave feeling much worse.
We found some incredible stories on Reddit from people who faced horrible medical situations and had things compound by incompetent staff members! They are lucky no one died!
Slow Response, Tragic Consequences
“I took my college roommate to the ER for a very obvious concussion.
We were told there would be a wait as it is a tiny hospital and they have to triage. Understandable. A few minutes later, a family comes in and the dad is having chest pains. They get told the same thing. So they sit down to wait. I got up to go to the bathroom and when I get back, the dad had had a heart attack, and died right there in the waiting area.
I was flabbergasted.
After that, anyone that came in was told to go to a different hospital. When my roommate was eventually seen, we finally found out what was causing the backup: a lady was giving birth in the ER because this hospital didn’t have a maternity ward. So they had all hands on deck for that.
How they couldn’t spare anyone for a man with chest pain was beyond me. I hope they sued their butts off.”
Terrible Health Care In Holland
“My twins were born too early, like 13 weeks too early, weighing in at just two pounds each.
My first hospital was amazing and they did well, but we reach a point where they can go from NICU to high care. The hospital close to home had high care so we moved them there.
In the time of one week, this ‘high care’ department did a number of terrible things.
One of them suddenly relapsed in their oxygen intake, which we thought was really weird and just didn’t match with what we expected at this point, after two months of hospital experience of watching our babies breathe. They didn’t believe us, we kept looking and found a faulty pump that was no longer pushing in oxygen.
They also gave a wrong dosage of medication (10 times too much!) that gave one of them terrible cramps for a week, until we figured out the issue (we did they didn’t).
And finally, the mixed up their files so info/data was now linked to the wrong patient. Again, we figured that out they didn’t.
As soon as they were allowed to go home, we transferred their aftercare to another hospital. A year later that hospital with the high care department was put under supervision due to poor quality. We were not surprised.
This is in the Netherlands by the way, a pretty well-developed country, but our healthcare sucks. The first hospital was in Belgium and was amazing.”
He Knew All Along
“I had this weird pain in my stomach. It was somewhere around 8-9 pm when it started. I took painkillers, but it wouldn’t go away. I had to go to work at 6 am the next morning. The pain had gotten slightly worse, but I went to work anyway and just ate more painkillers. My workday ended somewhere at 5:30 pm and I went straight to the ER, which was basically behind my apartment building.
I got there and told the receptionist that I’ve had this pain for almost 24 hours now and nothing has helped. The queue of patients is really long and my pain wasn’t taken very seriously, yet.
Maybe an hour had passed when things started moving a little, I had to take an ultrasound. The answers to these tests took really freaking long and the pain started getting worse. I couldn’t move around very well anymore and I just held onto my stomach. I suspected that my appendix was inflamed and even told the doctors that.
The ultrasounds didn’t show anything and the doctors were suspicious of me just overreacting. My issue was still categorized as ‘green,’ which meant it was a low priority. I ate somewhere at 8 pm just because I was starving at that point and I knew that it was going to take a long time to get somewhere. I was already getting aggravated and the pain got worse, that just tears came out.
Long story short, it was around 1:45 am when doctors FINALLY realized that I have an inflamed appendix and I had to go to surgery the next morning.
I’m still bitter about it. You usually get treated poorly until they understand what’s the real issue. When I found out that I needed surgery, I broke down in tears because I finally I knew what was wrong, and then their attitude changed, drastically.
I know that people go to the ER with nothing serious and mostly waste the doctors time there, but when I say that I am in huge pain, I am. It was just unfortunate, I guess.”
They Didn’t Believe Him
“I got jumped in Philadelphia.
I had a lot of bleeding from my head. I went to the ER and sat there for over three hours, constantly vomiting. I was 99% sure I had a concussion.
I finally get placed in a room, where I ask for the lights to be turned off. I’m closing my eyes but trying not to fall asleep because I know from previous experience that’s bad for people with new concussions. The nurse comes in turns the lights on and ‘wakes’ me up because she thought I was asleep,
I open my eyes just a bit and she says, ‘Oh, well, the light doesn’t seem to be bothering you, so you don’t have a concussion.’
I’ve had five concussions in my life and every other time I’ve gone through 10-30 minutes of testing but apparently she is good enough to know just by me opening my eyes that I don’t have a concussion.
Then she took another two hours to come back and stitch me up. Super crummy.”
A Shocking Result
“I got my period just weeks after turning 10, then, later in the year, I began to have ‘stomach pain.’
My mom took me to the doctor, but we lived in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the ocean, so the doctors were pretty terrible. They told me I just had the flu, or period cramps, or everything under the sun until the most common theory was that I was both lactose and glutton intolerant.
They were wrong.
After going to many doctor appointments, we were still unsure whether it was a good idea, but decided to still go on our yearly trip to go see our family.
We go, do some sightseeing, but I specifically remember walking up stairs and in a lot of pain. My dad was yelling at me and comparing me to an old lady, and I couldn’t explain to him what was going on.
We return home, and school begins on a Thursday. Everything is fine and dandy, up until the next day. I go to a party with my best friend, and he decides to stay the night because we were out so late. We had known each other since diapers so it was common for us to have sleepovers. I wake up the next morning, already in pain. I go to my mother and tell her, and she lays me on the couch and puts a movie on. The pain only worsens and she tells me it’s my stomach cramping and every time I cried it got worse.
The pain was horrible! It got so bad that I would sit up and scream, but my mom still refused to take me to the hospital. She only agreed to when I turned completely pale, had a high fever, had vomited, and had finally passed out from the pain. My dad was out of town, and her phone was on 10% battery. Wonderful.
She woke me up to drag me to the ER. A nurse lays me down, and I just remember the slight pinch of the IV before I was out for hours. It took a long time, but we were finally looked at. I do a lot of tests, and they finally take me into the ultrasound room. Everything is going fine until they go over my uterus. The nurse was going pretty crazy and taking photos. I don’t remember this since I was still really out of it, but my mom told me she knew something was wrong.
At first, they thought it was cancer since it was so large, but they didn’t tell me. They bring me up into the main part of the hospital, where over the course of two days I have two more of these major pain attacks, to the point they need to inject extremely strong pain meds into my thigh.
What had happened was two giant cysts had formed on one of my ovaries, and had wrapped around my fallopian tube three times. When they went in for emergency surgery, my ovary and the tube had gone black. They removed the cyst, and cut away most of my ovary.
Six months later, I have another emergency surgery, because it had happened again, on my other ovary. I was able to save the second ovary, but my first one was completely dead.
Moral of the story? Getting your period early sucks, and doctors need to take more initiative.”
He Figured It Out First
“On the day before Thanksgiving 2005, I woke up with a headache unlike anything I’ve ever had before. I went to the emergency room and had a memorable experience.
The first ‘room’ they had me in was right next to some wasted tweaker that had been brought in by the police. I knew this because there was a cop hanging around and the guy was handcuffed to the bed. This guy was loud. At first, it was just talking, a constant stream of nonsense. Then he started singing dirty Christmas carols. With the headache I had, I couldn’t take it and asked to be moved. The nurses totally understood and found a quieter spot for me.
They put me on an IV of super-Tylenol, which didn’t do a darn thing for my headache. Oh, and they cranked the IV up to 11. That was awful. You know how when you get really hot and you want nothing more than to tear off your clothes to get away from that heat? Well, this felt like that, only I wanted to tear off my skin to get relief. Fortunately, they realized their mistake, and 30 minutes later, they ended my suffering.
Sometime during this process, I started to guess what was causing my headache, which had never abated. A few weeks earlier I had run out of a medicine I was taking and I never bothered to refill it. I guessed that the headaches were withdrawals from the medicine.
Finally, after nearly five hours in the ER, I met a doctor. This guy was basically Doogie Howser. I was 20 at the time. If this guy was a day over 25, I’m Mickey Mouse. His solution to my headache? A freaking spinal tap! Thanks but no thanks. I checked myself out and made a call to my real doctor for a refill on that medicine.
Two days later and the headache was a distant memory.”
It Was Supposed To Be A Simple Operation
“I went in for a simple outpatient procedure. Upon the first incision, the doctor hits a vein and I start to bleed internally. At that point, they cut my entire abdomen from top to bottom, remove my intestines looking for the bleed, smoosh them back in, move my organs around to where they think they should be, and close me up.
I woke up in the ICU with 34 stables holding my guts in.”
They Couldn’t Figure It Out
“My mother’s a medical mess and no one really knows what’s wrong with her. She’s had very many bad times.
Once, she waited hours in the ER waiting room, very visibly, severely sick. Then when she got taken in, they just stuck her in a room and didn’t do anything for another few hours. Then a nurse came in and just insulted her and treated her like an annoyance, while she was throwing up and everything. They ended up sending her home with nothing, the usual end result for her.
Once she had a doctor come into her hospital room and tell her she had to take this pill before he would let her discharge. She told him, no, she’s allergic to that pill. Long story short, he made her take it anyway. She had a near seizure and almost died. She couldn’t remember things for the next few days. Now the doctor denies it and she’s had enough memory problems that she can’t fight back.
The worst one so far is that for the first time in ages, she was finally given morphine to help her severe pain while in the hospital. She could finally sleep. Eventually a nurse came in and took the actual connection out of the IV piece in her hand, however, Mom later got up in a daze, signed herself out, and drove home. All with an open vein and high on morphine. She could have died and killed others. We’re trying to work with a lawyer on this one. Maybe we could win and pay some medical bills.
The healthcare system makes me so unbelievably angry. People treat her like an annoyance because we don’t know exactly what’s wrong. They never bother to actually help her and treat her like a dumb addict who’s just faking it for pills. It’s so freaking awful. Every day, I wish a real life House MD would come and work through figuring her out once and for all.”
They Dismissed Her Agony As Nothing
“I was home from college for Thanksgiving.
That Friday, I wake up with horrible stomach pains. I spend about two hours in the bathroom as my poop goes from gravel, to logs, to diarrhea, to bloody pus that looked like strawberry jam.
That evening, I was able to go long enough between bowel movements to get to the ER. My mom helps with paperwork while I keep ducking off to the bathroom. They give me a room. Every time I get back from the bathroom, I’ve just missed the doctor.
A nurse comes in and puts an IV line in my arm, but tells us that she can’t hook me up to any fluids until the doctor sees me, but I should stop drinking from my water bottle in the meanwhile.
Three hours later, the doctor finally shows up and I tell him my symptoms, concerned about appendicitis. There’s nothing left in my gut to poop out, so a nurse goes digging for a sample. She puts on a textured glove and shoves a couple un-lubricated fingers up my backdoor and digs around for a minute, before declaring me a liar. I still have hemorrhoid problems five years later for that rummage.
Finally, the doctor decides I have Clostridium difficile, a bacteria infection, and insists to my mother that I must have picked it up moonlighting at a nursing home or something.
No, I didn’t.
After another two hours on IV fluids, my abdomen still swollen and painful, my mom declares that we want to leave. They pull my IV and it takes a few attempts for the nurse to bandage my arm in a way that doesn’t pop loose as soon as I move. As I’m getting my sweater on, another nurse pops in; she shoves a cup of pills into the hand that’s through my sleeve, a cup of water in the hand that isn’t. It’s about 2am by now and my brain stalls out, so I just stare at her blankly.
The nurse yells, ‘I’m not an idiot, I swear!’ and takes the cups back so I can finish putting my sweater on.
Before handing me the pills back, Butthole Nurse shows up and tells me, with these antibiotics, I can’t have any caffeine, because I could die. It was Cipro and Flagyl. My mom makes me take the pills and we go home.
Three days later, I am still in pain and still bloated. I go to my usual doctor’s office and am immediately referred for a CT scan. I go to an imaging center and drink their radioactive lemonade stuff.
When the doctor at the imaging center goes to set up an IV in my arm, he sees the ER’s nasty bruises in the crook of my arm. This was before I was diagnosed with EDS, but the adhesive the ER used had taken a few shallow rectangular patches of skin off. My arm looked awful and felt awful. The doctor was outraged. The IV he put in my other arm was so delicate, there wasn’t a single pinprick visible after.
So I get the CT scan, sit in the back waiting room and wait for results. I get a phone call from my regular doctor’s office, congratulating me on my lack of appendicitis. What? I haven’t gotten the results yet. Oh, just an ovarian cyst, and an infection trying to chew through my intestines. Perfectly normal! Just keep taking those antibiotics!
There is something about ovarian cysts that makes nurses talk to me like I’m a toddler with a booboo.
I drove myself a few hours back to school and suffered through finals before packing up and heading home.”
The Baby Got Revenge
“I was pregnant and it was three days after the due date. My water broke twice with a lot of fluid both times while I was at home, so we called to let the hospital know, then headed in.
The contractions were really getting noticeable by the time we reached the hospital. They put me in a room for observation before admitting me. The doctor came in and checked me. She told me my water didn’t break and they just want to see how I progressed. I told her it broke twice and there was a lot of fluid, so what would that be? She acted like I was exaggerating and said she’d be back in a little while to check if I’ve progressed or not.
She came back 40 minutes later and checked me, only to freak out that I was dilated to 7cm and rushed me to a delivery room. I had a natural/unmedicated labor and for some reason, I involuntarily yelled with each contraction. It sucked. The midwives and nurses acted as though nothing was going on even towards the end where I couldn’t speak.
There was only one nurse in the room and she wasn’t anywhere near me. She was looking at stuff on a computer and I wasn’t even hooked up to anything. I was on all fours on the edge of the bed and my friend that was in the room with me noticed some fluid coming out so she tried to get the nurse’s attention. I knew that there was about to be a human coming out with it but couldn’t verbalize it.
As I felt my kid coming down, I had to pull my body up because I knew no one was going to catch her. I ended up having my baby on the back of my legs and if I hadn’t pulled up she would have dropped right out onto the floor. The nurse that was in the room didn’t notice right away and once she realize what happened, she tried to ask my friend to pull some emergency chord on the wall to call for help. Only she wasn’t using her words and my friend had no idea what she was trying to accomplish so it took a couple of minutes for other people to make it in.
Finally, a doctor came in and called the birth time which no one knew if it was accurate or not. After I got to hold my baby, they took her to wash up. My sweet girl peed all over that useless nurse and it was everything I need for that moment.”
Did These Nurses Even Care?
“I had my first two children in Australia and my second two in the US. Kid #3, American #1 was a DOOZY of a hospital stay.
First, I was sent by the ob/gyn’s office to the hospital because I had an incompetent cervix and while my contractions were irregular, they were doing their job, so they decided I was 100% having the baby that day.
The nurses were doing the ‘They aren’t five minutes apart, you can still talk through them, you’re only four centimeters.’
I fired back, ‘My first two were four hours and one hour respectively, I didn’t have regular contractions until transition with them.’ And they’re just ignoring me. I refuse an epidural, saying, ‘I don’t want to be prepared for pain relief until I ask. Right now, I’m okay.’
They go get the ob/gyn, convince him to discharge me and as he’s signing the papers, I hit transition and I mash the call button and say, ‘Things have ramped up, I might like an epidural now.’
The nurses laugh at me and say to each other, ‘Oh now she’s in transition, she can’t handle it.’
I was eight centimeters dilated and couldn’t walk from triage to birth suite and I just said, ‘I told you this baby was coming today.’
They only had enough time to put me on the birthing bed, one of the rolling type, before I had to push. I wasn’t in the birth suite for an hour. It gets better. I’m transferred to another floor and the baby is a boy. We aren’t circumcising and the baby has low blood sugar.
The first 12 hours, I’m asked seven times if we’re planning to circumcise him by the same nurse. And they can’t settle on a plan to get this baby to hold his blood sugar, and are just pumping him full of formula when we want to nurse. They’re moving sugar numbers and times between feedings and one nurse says he’s good and the next nurse says that he didn’t meet the right numbers.
I ask one nurse to show me how to give a bottle, ‘I’ve never given a bottle before and he keeps gagging and I’m afraid he’ll aspirate.’
Her reply? ‘He can aspirate while nursing, too!’
They keep taking him to the nursery for tests, like the hearing test, and keeping him hours.
I’m struggling, none of this is like Australia, at all. I feel blindsided and confused at every turn.
So I’m getting ticked. I finally ask a nurse, ‘What are the consequences of not getting his blood sugar up?’ and she says seizures and brain damage and she thinks he might have a seizure because he’s a bit jittery and then I say, ‘What are the consequences if I just discharge us both?’
‘We’d have to have a stern talk.’
And so I say, ‘Get me the pediatrician, I’m done with nurses. I want the doctor to give me the care plan.’
She responds, ‘That costs money.’
I yell, ‘Get me the pediatrician!’
The doctor is lovely, and we work out what we’re going to do and he tells me it should only take 12 more hours. And here’s where things go really pear shaped: He tells the nurse to give me the discharge spiel.
And she asks again if I’m circumcising (I think I was asked around 20 times in our 3-day stay) and then starts explaining about retracting to clean him and my brain just short circuits. ‘Actually, it’s fine. My older son is not circumcised, we’ve got this.’ And she rolls her eyes at me.
The next time she has to take the baby’s sugars, she takes him to the nursery, she says because the heel pricks were starting to upset me. Umm, stupid nurse, you are. And he comes back kind of late for a simple heel prick, obviously scrubbed up. So my mommy alarm goes off and I look him over. The witch had retracted him.
I fall apart. Sobbing. The lactation consultant chooses right then to visit us and I blab to her what’s going on and she’s like super woman. She has me pump the volume of formula they’ve been making me feed him. No one, even though I said I wanted to exclusively feed him naturally and had successfully done so before, had said I could use pumped milk instead of formula, weighs him after nursing, then she feeds him the pumped milk.
One cycle of this and his blood sugar stabilize and that’s when old retract-y hands comes in and says ‘His bilirubin is high.’
I dig my heels in and say, ‘I’m sure my pediatrician can handle it.’ The lactation nurse looks them up. Yep, the pediatrician has biliblankets, I’m good. They made me call the pediatrician in front of them like a naughty adolescent. And we bust out of there.
My other baby’s 26 day NICU stay was less of a nightmare than those three days.”
The Worst Time To Be In A Fire
“I was in hospital for laparoscopy.
About seven or so hours after the surgery, a fire broke out in the fabric section of the hospital, just as my brother and I were joking about a zombie apocalypse starting because we had heard screams and glass breaking.
He left the room to check, came back in, chuckling at the oddity of it all then told me calmly what was going on and that we were to evacuate. He spoke while getting our stuff. I couldn’t get up yet, as I was too scared of my stitches opening, so at first he and some nurses wheeled my bed out.
But the hospital had no ramps.
I had to transfer to a wheelchair, as it could be easier to lift down the stairs, but my overweight butt made this hard. I walked four floors down in confusion and worry. And badly in need of a toilet.
Probably the worst thing I experienced was not even that, as it didn’t hurt to go down the stairs, but it was that I had to have a skin test again when I was transferred.
If you’re wondering, the fire was minor and all the patients were safely evacuated, including the one giving birth and the one in a major surgery. It was a major hospital and it didn’t seem to be their first fire.
The medical staff were all very calm and made sure everyone was alright. I’m baffled about it to this day. I just hope that nothing like that happens again while there are still no ramps.”