Doctors From Around The World Share The Weird Things They Have Encountered On The Job
Doctors have easily one of the most important jobs on the planet. They are the people who keep us healthy and the ones tasked with healing us when we’re sick or injured. So, naturally, they are going to see some pretty incredible cases while on the job. And while most are things they have heard of or seen before, occasionally they will come across something that is just, well, weird. Take it from these people, who recently shared some of the weird things they have encountered while on the job.
When I was on an ER rotation during med school we got a call about a 23-year-old woman who was shot in the head, and who was already completely gone, but was reportedly 5 months pregnant so they were doing CPR until they got her to the hospital to see if the baby was viable. They got her to the ER and did an ultrasound and turned about baby was full term and they did a C-section in like under a minute and got the baby out.
I don’t think it’s so incredibly uncommon but it was pretty surreal to see a baby delivered from a corpse with their brain in bad shape and she was pretty close to the same age I was at the time.
When I was in my third year of medical school, I rotated in geriatrics. As many of you know, most of medicine isn’t saving lives. It’s a lot of taking care of the elderly that are just knocking on heaven’s door.
Anyway, I had a census of maybe five patients; four of them with severe dementia.
I was checking on this one guy who would say the most random stuff all day long. For example, I would ask, “Are you feeling any better?” And I would get, “I really think cucumbers are the devil.”
One day, as I was listening to his lungs, he looks deep into my eyes and says, “I’m collapsing from the inside. And I know it. I don’t have long left.”
Pure. 100% lucidity. I was a little taken aback and checked with him and said, “You…what?” And he went back to staring off and said, “I like taking pictures of shells.”
Short-lived, but that five seconds he was all there was incredibly creepy to me.
Man On Fire
My wife works on the oncology floor of our local hospital. Often she has elderly patients who are severely confused. Recently, they had a patient on their floor who was mean to everyone. He was an abuser and got physical with some of the hospital staff on multiple occasions.
His health quickly turned VERY bad, and soon after this happened, the man, who was in a cold room, began telling people he was literally on fire. He even called 911 to report him burning alive in his room. He reported seeing people in his room telling him how horrible he was. He also claimed to see a horned creature emerging over the end of his bed telling him that “You’re coming with me.” She requested not to have that patient anymore.
Not a doctor, but I once had a patient chart on my desk that seemed a little fuller than most charts. When I opened it there was a baggy stapled to the inside filled with skin, cotton balls, and hair. Chart note said that the patient believed they had bugs crawling on their skin and brought in the baggy as proof. They had been brought in by a friend who took the patient to the hospital at the urging of the doctor to seek psychiatric help because there was nothing there. It was just dandruff and hair.
She ended up calling several months later and I somehow got the call. She screamed at me about how we betrayed her because she came to us for help and we sent her away where she got a lot of medical bills that were stressing her out and making the bugs worse. Not the worst story out there, but I felt bad for the girl and she needed serious help.
My mom worked in the ER as a nurse for years. I actually got scheduled to do a clinical in that same ER on her shift one day. After coming back from lunch they said that the patient in room five had coded and needed to go back to the freezers. Out of curiosity of how the morgue looked I volunteered to go back. Halfway down the long empty hall the body sat straight up in its bag and started screaming loud as hell. At this point, the two transporters began to laugh uncontrollably while I stood there in utter fear. Turns out Mom thought it would be funny to jump into a body bag. After walking back into the entire ER laughing, Mom turned and said, “But for real this time, we have to take the guy to the freezers.”
I’m not a doctor, but I used to work in a ward where one of the side-rooms was allegedly haunted. One of our nurses refused point-blank to even go in there. I started off thinking it was nonsense, but after the 8th or 9th time a patient called me into their room in the middle of the night to ask why there was an old woman standing at the foot of their bed, I became a believer. I saw so much weird stuff when I worked in healthcare. It’s a very creepy job.
Not a doctor, but I work in a personal care home. We used to have a resident who would constantly yell out “Hello,” drove us a bit bonkers. After he passed away a lady moved into the room. One night I was working a double, evening to nights, and she pulled her call bell. I went in and she asked me to make him stop.
“Make who stop what?”
“The old man standing beside the bed, he won’t stop yelling hello.”
Whenever you admit a patient you have to inquire about their DNR status in case of a code being called. I had one elderly patient (late 80s/early 90s) who was chronically ill (in and out of the hospital every month barely holding onto life – basically a horrible miserable quality of life). I asked the patient’s family (I think it was a granddaughter who had medical POA, but I’m not sure, it was a while ago) about their DNR status because you don’t want to put someone through a brutal resuscitation that may not even work if it isn’t something that they would want if they wanted to pass away naturally. She flat out stated that “Oh, we want everything done for him because we really need his check.” I didn’t understand at first, but apparently, the family was living off of his social security and could not have cared less about his pain and suffering or his wishes. I’m pretty sure it was the creepiest thing I’ve seen. These people were supposed to be his loved ones taking care of him and they were using him like an inhuman object.
Motorcycle driver, accident, third-degree burns, arrived DOA. Had to transfer him from ambulance gurney to ER bed. As we were moving him with a transfer sheet, the charred skin on his back separated and his body slipped onto the floor (despite several of us trying to “catch” him).
A friend used to share stories of when she was newly a nurse.
She was checking out a patient, following protocol. This guy had been seen multiple times, and given an antibiotic for a lung infection. Again, this guy had been seen by a nurse and doctor and she was to do the last follow up before releasing him.
“What is this?”
“A shirt, I keep them in my hole.”
Dude had an abscess so big that he stuffed a t-shirt in it and forgot about it. At the time it had gotten so large that he now stuff 3 shirts in. Neglected to tell the doctor or get it checked out. By the time the last one was pulled out, the smell was so bad it cleared the room.
The Last Stand
Not an MD, but I do work at a hospital. I was lifting a patient up at the edge of the bed in ICU when she started getting all squirrelly. She didn’t speak much English but kept saying “Stand, stand” so I helped her stand up. After standing for a few seconds something told me to lay her back down. Before her head ever hit the pillow her eyes rolled back and she was gone. She had a massive stroke and was gone on the spot. She all but passed in my arms. But, I like to think I honored her last wish of wanting to stand.
Paramedic here. We got a call to go out to a scene for an elderly woman with chest pains. Arrive at the house, front door is open. We knock, hear the old woman calling out from the back “I’m in the back room” in a very monotone and calm voice. My partner and I go to the back of the house looking for this woman, and that’s when we smelled it. Nothing prepares you for the smell of a corpse. I’ve smelled it a dozen times, and it never gets any less disturbing. We radio for police and ALS backup as we move through the house. We open the door to the master bedroom, and there is our patient. She is approximately 80, and she is staring at the master bathroom with these cold, icy eyes. She never once looked at us as we approached her and began talking to her. I got to the bedside and got in front of her gaze, and she just looked right through me. I turned around to see what she could possibly be looking at, and there was the source of my smell. A man, about the same age as my patient, is on the floor with very little left of his head left. A weapon lay on the floor next to him, and most of his head was strewn about. We loaded the woman up in the ambulance, and our police backup pulled up. I don’t think that woman blinked once the entire time she was in our care. Totally messed me up.
Man In Black
People turn absolutely crazy and creepy as heck when they get really sick. There’s even a term called ICU psychosis…And trust me, it’s real. Anyway, the creepiest thing that takes the cake for me is this: Had a patient who was admitted for substance abuse. A very long history of mental health problems. She was thrashing around in bed, very combative, kicking people’s butts for days, totally incoherent. Well, the night I had her, she started making decent sense, but still not oriented at all. She was extremely paranoid and kept talking about the man in black in the corner. I’d hear her talking to him and screaming, all night long. So I’d go in there and try to calm her down, but you could see the fear in her eyes. she was talking other nonsense about how she was in space and stuff, and with certain patients, you try to redirect their “reality,” but what I did didn’t help. She said “That man in black! Don’t you see him!” And pointed to the corner. I said “There’s nobody here. I stepped in the corner she was pointing to and waved my hands around. While I’m waving my hands around in the air, she had the most horrifically terrified look on her face that actually scared the stuff out of me, like I had just assaulted the man in black. I said “See, there’s nobody here,” and she said in a matter-of-factly, you stupid dumb idiot way: “That’s what you think”. I promptly got the heck out of there.
I’m an EMT. Honestly, the creepiest is the old women holding baby dolls. They pet them and stuff, that baby is REAL to them…freaks me the heck out.
A friend of mine is an EMT around Chicago. They get a lot of calls for homeless people who pass away during the winter. If they don’t find them quickly enough the body cools and any exposed skin freezes to the ground. They have to scrape them up off the sidewalk before they can remove the body.
Getting Turned Around
I work in a nursing home. I wouldn’t say it’s the creepiest thing EVER, but I once had a patient who was hallucinating and kept talking about the person behind me. I knew he was hallucinating but I’m not gonna say I didn’t turn around and check a few times…
I watched a patient’s heart stop on the monitor once. There are false alarms sometimes of course. However, I was experienced enough to know that it was a true alarm. I called the nurse and told her she might want to check the patient. I remember her laughing nervously to tell me that she was talking with the patient at that moment so she could not possibly be in trouble. I could even hear the patient talking to her cheerfully in the background. I double checked the monitor and saw a few beats here and there and long lines. Just as I was advising the nurse to manually check the patient I heard her drop the phone and go “Oh no!” followed by the code blue alarm. That patient did not come back.
I worked in transport for almost two years. In school to be a nurse blah blah blah. The most terrifying thing for me would be one late shift in transport. We store our stretchers on an unused unit, fourth floor way in the back, in an old building (we have since the start of the hospital in 1951 added to it). Now, this unit used to be the old Psych unit before it was shut down. It had unique room layouts and doors with windows and custom locks. Well, I was putting a stretcher back up there in the room where we store them when I just felt like I was being watched. I walked out into the hallway and asked if anyone was there. Usually, a fellow transporter would sleep in one of the far rooms because he would work a morning shift but lived far away and didn’t want to drive back. Anyways, no one responded, but as I stood there and surveyed the hallway, the wheelchair that was against the wall just decided to start rolling by itself a few feet as if it was nudged by something. I promptly noped the heck off that unit. I never went back alone.
When I was on my OBGYN rotation we had a patient who had to come in for an MRI scan. Usually, before MRIs you have to declare if you have any metal implants
She was like “Uh, yeah I do, it’s in my private parts.” Turns out she had a beer bottle cap inside. And it was lodged in there for 12 years…
The bottle cap was so fused to the skin that we had to use bone forceps to break off the fibrous
tissue that was encasing it.
After we removed that cap, we found another two more inside. Fun times.
Saw a lady once who had gotten inebriated on something and chewed off her lips.
Trauma nurse here. Several times over the years, we’ve had patients who were victims of violent crime (bullet wounds, stabbings, car vs pedestrian, arson, etc.) where the perpetrator turned out to be a family member who’d been visiting them in the hospital the whole time, while the patient was comatose, and said family member had not yet been named as a suspect. Some of these perpetrators turned out to be criminals, as some of the patients would go on to pass from their injuries. Takes a lot to creep out a trauma team, but knowing you’ve been in a tiny room with a violent criminal and their victim makes you uneasy, even if you know you’re never going to see them again.
Right On Time
Nurse here. Once I had a hospice patient. I went in to check on them and asked if they wanted breakfast. They said, “No, I’m passing away.” After a few minutes of assessments and small talk I went to get their pain medication. I was gone for ten minutes. When I got back they were indeed gone. The creepy part is that their watch had stopped five minutes before I entered the room. A regular quartz watch. I was only gone for ten minutes… I can’t explain. Also, I checked, the pin was in the watch so he didn’t turn it off.
After my time as a medical student and a surgical resident, I’ve seen many things crazier/more interesting than this case I’m about to mention, but this one is definitely creepier. I was on my vascular surgery rotation and was partaking in an above-knee surgery for this gentleman with terrible peripheral vascular disease. His PVD had progressed to the point that his distal right leg from his mid-calf to his toes was entirely affected by gangrene and had essentially mummified. His foot was cold and hard to the touch. It felt almost like hollowed-out wood- you could knock on it and it would sound like you were knocking on a door. The thing that made it particularly creepy was that with his gown on, I could see his mummified leg but not where it stopped and the rest of him was as normal and functional as could be expected. It looked like it couldn’t be coming from the same person, especially one who hasn’t been gone for thousands of years. We proceeded with the operation and he is doing fine.
I work as a denturist in the dental tech field. Sometimes for serious cases, I’ll get called out to our local hospital for emergency cases. At two o’clock in the morning, I was called in to attend to a 20-year-old female involved in a single vehicle MVA. Just an absolutely gorgeous girl as well, her boyfriend was speeding along the Trans-Canada and lost control on the slippery road. Sent their car directly into a divider on the road close to 80 Km/h, he escaped completely unscathed apart from a little glass cutting his face. However, his girlfriend, who was wearing braces, smacked her head into the dashboard leaving her concussed and with major trauma to the mouth. Her entire max/man teeth that were all cemented to braces had been knocked out, leaving all her teeth, save a few molars, just on her braces in front of her face. That was something I was not prepared to see when I arrived to the ER. The oral surgeon on duty and I had to work the remaining brackets off her mouth as she was still conscious, causing some much understandable pain. In the end, all her remaining teeth were extracted and mouth wired shut. Leaving on a good note, however! I managed to make her some prosthetics that turned out to work perfectly for her, allowing her to once again eat solid foods and give her enough confidence to leave the house again and continue on with her life.
Not a doctor, but a nurse’s aid. On Valentine’s day a few years ago, we had a lady recovering from childbirth who ended up with an amniotic embolism. I was in the room when she collapsed, seized, and fell unresponsive, the nurses got there and I ran to get a dinamap to get vitals. As I got back in she woke up, looked around at everyone and said in a voice that still gives me chills “I’m going, please don’t let me go! I want to see my baby, please, PLEASE DON’T LET ME GO!” she collapsed back on the bed and never came back.
It was the most disturbing, heartbreaking thing I’ve ever seen, and I will never forget it.
Pain In The Butt
I worked as an OR nurse in an urban hospital that included treating patients from a low-security prison. We had an inmate sent to the OR because of bowel obstruction. We put a sigmoidoscope into the patient and after advancing the scope about eight inches we see on the monitor the scope was attached to… Pond’s Cold Cream. The poor guy had a jar of cold cream shoved in his butt. He thought that he would be able to pass it but after a few days he got scared and came in for treatment. Definitely, one of the weirdest things that I’ve ever seen.
Sticking His Neck Out
I was on ER duty during the final leg of my internship, and I must say, we get to see a lot of messed up cases everyday, but there’s one that stood out. It was around 11 in the evening, and we’ve had a really busy night, when all of a sudden, an elderly lady and a 22-year-old guy come in, his hands trying to stop the flow – no, fountain – spurting from his neck. There was blood everywhere. The residents tried to save the guy, but it was too late – he lost so much. He passed I think 20-30 minutes after entering the ER. Police arrive at the hospital sometime later, and from what I heard, the recently deceased guy was a graduating college senior – he was just closing up his aunt’s (the elderly lady who was with him in the ER) store when three inebriated and really out of it guys came upon him and decided to break a bottle and shove it up the poor guy’s neck.
The saddest and most gruesome experience I’ve ever had in the ER.
Not me, but my friend and old coworker used to work in a psych ward and mentioned there was one girl there who would speak in tongues occasionally and had a vocal condition that allowed her to selectively speak in 2 octaves. One night while he was nearby her, her eyes rolled back, she started speaking in dual octave tongues, getting louder and louder until suddenly the power went out in the building. My friend about pooped his pants.
Of course, this is very subjective, and I’m a fourth-year med student and not a doctor, but for me it was the extreme protruding silence after the passing of an ER patient we had been working on for a solid hour and a half. From people running around everywhere, talking, monitors making sounds to everything just fizzling out.
When I was younger, I worked as a CNA in a dementia ward. There was this woman, late 80s, who would wander around, just sobbing for her mother. “Have you seen my mother? Why would she leave me?” She just cried, endlessly. No amount of consoling or diversion worked. One night, I held her hand as she cried that her mother had left without her and she missed her. She passed shortly after. I often think of her and pray no one I know ever experiences that turmoil.
One creepy story I’ll never forget was a 90-something-year-old man who absolutely refused assisted living. This old man ended up falling and didn’t have a life alert thing or anything and crawled across the carpet to try and reach his phone which was very far away at the other end of this big carpeted living room. Apparently, he was just in his underwear and when the family found him he had carpet-burned off his skin practically down to the bone on his legs and arms crawling across the floor for hours. I guess when you’re so old your skin is very very frail. So they followed this trail to find him. Exposed bone and everything. He ended up living though.
Laid To Rest
I’ve worked in nursing homes for a few years. One nurse told me she used to have a patient that would constantly be pressing his call light wanting the height of his bed adjusted. I guess he was really picky and would have the staff move it in minuscule amounts trying to find the perfect height. After he passed the nurse heard a sound coming from the same room. She went to the room to investigate and the bed was malfunctioning and was raising and lowering on its own.
A couple of years back when I was doing my forensic pathology rotation, went into the morgue first thing in the morning and a corpse was just delivered from the train station. The young man’s body was there overnight so rigor mortis already kicked in. His cap still on, eyes wide open and the scariest expression of fear frozen on his face, arm stretched up high. They said the train ran over him and they never found the rest of him. That was the first time for me in a morgue.
Praising The Plumber
I’m not a doctor but I was doing some plumbing working in an old people’s ward at a mental hospital and this old lady kept coming up to me and stroking my face, kissing my cheek, saying she loves and misses me, etc. I thought clearly she wasn’t ‘right’ up there. I had to hold her hand and take her to the nearest nurse. Apparently, after talking with the nurse and seeing a picture I look exactly like her husband (at a young age) who passed some years back.
Declaring Her Passing
I’m a surgical resident. I once had a patient who was rapidly deteriorating in the ICU. I was rapidly placing a central line, the patient’s BP was dropping into the 60s and she had lost consciousness. I prepped her neck and placed the drape (full body sterile field drape that obscures everything but the neck). I had just drawn up some local anesthetic and was about to stick her to inject it when she suddenly rips off all the drapes and says, clear as day, “You don’t have the right to do this to me. Nothing you can do will help. I’m already gone!” She then collapsed back into the bed, and her BP dropped to 40, then she went into PEA (cardiac arrest). Coded her for 45 minutes, never got her back…
I was having a patient sign her admissions paperwork. Everything was going normally and she seemed coherent until she looked out her window and asked me, “Did you see that?” I hadn’t seen anything and she said, “A man just jumped off the building.”
Then she shook her head and mumbled to herself how her mind isn’t right anymore. Freaked me the heck out. Now I’m terrified of getting old and having dementia.
The Blind Side
Maybe not the creepiest, but I was taking pictures of this young guy’s retina, new patient, real run of the mill, and it was super obvious he had really really advanced macular degeneration (loss of central vision, usually age related). After I’m done, he goes real casual, “So how’s it look?”
I knew this guy would be blind within a year, but I couldn’t say that because I’m not allowed as a tech.
So I say, “Oh, the doctor can answer that in a little bit,” just to feign ignorance. But geez did it feel weird knowing the doctor was gonna drop the bomb on him in a few minutes.
Saw him in the elevator room later with his head in his hands. Heartbreaking. Didn’t know how he didn’t realize.
I’m a fourth-year med student going into Ortho. While doing an away rotation in a busy inner-city hospital, I got called to see a patient in the ED. This guy was homeless but broke his leg so they put an external fixation device on him to help it heal: basically rods into the bone with rings around to keep the bone in place.
I walk into the room and it STINKS. One of the worst smells I’ve ever smelled. I ask him why he came in and he says, “There are maggots in my leg.” I look down at one of those rods and use a q-tip to probe at it as it enters the skin. Sure enough, little maggots start crawling out of the guy’s skin!!
Guess who gets to spend the next 20 minutes picking out those maggots with tweezers? This guy!
My cousin is a registered nurse and she told me this story: One of her jobs after a patient had passed was to clean the body. So she washed one side and then pushed the body to turn it over. The body made this creepy croaking sound. Obviously caused by pushing air out of the lungs but it freaked her out at the time.
Nurse here. When I was in my psych rotation during nursing school, there was a patient on the unit that was schizophrenic and having delusions. One of her delusions was that her eyes were becoming “snake eyes.” She wasn’t on one-to-one care because she hadn’t shown any risks for self harm…yet. One of the techs went to check on her and found her in the bathroom bleeding from where her eye used to be. She had enucleated (pulled her eye out) herself with her fingers. Mental illness is so sad and scary.
Haunting Of Heels
I’m a psych tech so creepy has a different definition to me, but what really creeped me out was hearing the sound of women’s heels (which are absolutely not allowed on my unit) approaching me in the dark while doing rounds one night. Thought it was just my imagination until my coworkers and a few of the clients reported hearing it before. Still gives me chills.
Nurse here. I had a patient once who was very out of it, dementia. One night while in her room to turn her I was trying not to wake her or her family but she still woke up. She was looking at the ceiling smiling with an eerie smile (but normal for her). She suddenly looks at me with that smile and started licking her lips saying “Yum…chocolate ice cream” and was reaching for me. NO MA’AM.
Toeing The Line
I was doing a routine medical transport for a para-transit company. Doctor’s appointments, etc… I was waiting for a client that was never late. I was about to cancel his call when he came out in his electric chair. He very casually says, “Sorry about the delay. My daughter was putting my sock on and my toe fell off. I’m ready to go now.” I was stunned. I drove him straight to the wound ward at the local hospital. Much to the dismay of the other passenger that was supposed to get off right around the corner.
The Bone Collector
So I was learning how to put a cast properly on a kid and the mom walks in and starts casually talking to me. Just the normal talk until she asks me: “Where do you think I can find some bones?” And I’m like what do you mean bones? Like chicken bones or what? And she tells me, really casually, “Oh no honey, I mean human bones. I grind them and make some tea out of them; it helps a lot with my epilepsy.” Gulp…..
Busted by Cheeto Fingers
I’m a pediatric dentist, so maybe not the type of doctor you were looking for, but this one throws me for a loop every time so I’ll share it. When I sedate kids they have to be NPO for 8 hours before, so I always ask if they had anything to eat or drink in the morning. Parents NEVER want to admit their kid ate or drank, even when I remind them it’s very important because if they vomit and aspirate they could die.
Often they try to minimize it and say it was just a few bites, but one kid walked in eating a bag of Cheetos at reception and then the parent insisted to me that they hadn’t eaten. Yeah, I’m 100% not sedating your child today.
Shaving a Wig
Obligatory not a doctor, I’m a nurse. We had a patient come into the operating room for brain surgery. Probably a mid-50s guy with a nice head of light brown hair. Before a patient comes into the actual OR we ask them a series of questions, including whether they have any implants, jewelry, non-hospital clothes on, etc. Guy says no to all the questions. After the patient gets put to sleep, the surgeon grabbed his hair to start shaving it off (because you know, brain surgery) and ALL HIS HAIR PEELED OFF BECAUSE HE WAS WEARING A WIG AND DIDN’T TELL US. We almost shaved his hair piece because he wouldn’t admit to anyone he wore it.
There Are Easier Ways To Get Fiber
Had a patient refuse to admit he swallowed a pen, even though an x-ray showed the pen in his small bowel and we took the pen out during an emergency surgery.
A Virgin Delivers A Baby
Not a doctor but my husband. He had a 17 year old girl with abdominal pains come into the ER with her Mum, turns out she’s in full-blown labour. Assures them she can’t be pregnant, she’s a virgin. The baby is literally crowning right there in ER (no maternity ward in their hospital and she was in advanced labour when she arrived) and she still insists she’s a virgin.
ER Nurse here. Was doing CPR on a lady whose heart had stopped. They initially rolled her into the room unconscious and not breathing. This lady is pretty much gone. However, in the middle of doing chest compressions, her hands reach up and grasp my wrists and then fall back to hanging off the table. We never got her back.
The Case of the Missing Remote
How the remote control to a Zenith television wound up in the rectum of a 54 year old father of two? They stopped making Zenith Television sets years ago. From a medical perspective, why do you still own this remote?