As someone who lives for medical dramas — House, Grey's Anatomy, The Resident, you name it — I'm always impressed with how they're always able to diagnose what's wrong with the patient in the nick of time!
But as someone who has also had a lot of medical ailments, I do know that sometimes it takes longer than 42–44 minutes to diagnose a patient. Sometimes it can take weeks or even months!
Well, recently, I was on Reddit and I came across this thread asking doctors to share the worst thing they've seen a patient for that another doctor overlooked.
So here are only SOME of of the stories doctors chose to share in the thread:
1.A man came into the ICU for a sore throat after his primary care physician sent him home because he didn't have strep throat or the flu. It turns out that the previous evening, he swallowed an ice cube and it caused a 4.25-inch tear in his esophagus. Food, drink, and stomach acid leaked into his peritoneal cavity. We were able to get him into surgery and he made a full recovery, but he was close to not making it.
2.A neurologist sent a patient to our emergency room without informing her that a glioblastoma — a very aggressive brain tumor — showed up on her scans, which means he sent the patient to us so we could tell her she was going to die.
3.During my residency, a woman who had been diagnosed with dementia by her primary care physician and a neurologist came in, but the neurologist I worked under said her symptoms were progressing too quickly. After running many tests, we found out she was actually suffering from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease — aka "mad cow." She died a few months later.
4.During my residency, I saw a cardiologist miss a STEMI — a heart attack — on a patient's ECG. By the time the patient came to us, the muscles supporting his heart valves had completely died and weren't able to circulate blood through his body properly. It was awful, but I'm glad he made it.
5.A nurse called me over to a patient because their bandages were "bleeding a little." The patient had recently had their leg amputated, and after unwrapping the bandage, I found that their femoral artery — one of the largest arteries in the body — was spurting blood. It was a close call for sure.
6.I had to perform surgery on a 25-year-old woman because her previous doctor placed her pacemaker incorrectly, which resulted in congestive heart failure. Both the pacemaker and aortic valve had to be replaced.
7.During my surgical rotation, a man came in after he fell on the street and hit his head. He had fallen earlier that day and been discharged from another hospital because he didn't have a concussion, but we noticed that his eyes were yellow and he had a fever of 103. After running a few more tests, we found that he was septic from ascending cholangitis — which is why he was falling down.
8.A patient of mine had rectal cancer, which went untreated for too long because her previous doctors told her over and over again that she just had hemorrhoids.
9.A young man came in with neck stiffness. A previous doctor told him that it was "joint pains" and it would wear off in a few days. After inspecting him further, I noticed that the lymph nodes on his neck were swollen but not painful — which is not a good sign. I sent him to get a chest X-ray, which confirmed that he had lymphoma.
10.A patient came in during my night shift for a nail bed repair. Normally we'd just localize it, but he insisted on going under. While we were anesthetizing him, he began aspirating, and when we did a chest X-ray, we found a mass in his lung — a tumor. Previous doctors told him it was just bad asthma.
11.During my residency, an ER doctor wanted to admit a mildly septic patient with a UTI. After reviewing her labs and noticing that she was actually diabetic, I saw that it was obviously florid DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis), which normally calls for a rush to the ICU for insulin and intense hydration. Instead, she was sitting in the hallway with no meds and looking like crap.
12.I'm an EMS, and one day we got a call for a female with leg pain. Upon arrival, we saw that her leg was three time its normal size and deeply bruised. A few days prior, she fell on the ice, and urgent care told her it was a sprain. In actuality, she fractured her tibia and fibula so badly that they cut into her blood vessels and muscle tissue. Her foot had to be amputated.
13.A man came into the ER with a ruptured appendix after being told at a previous hospital to "go home, it's nothing to you."
14.A woman came in because she was lactating even though she wasn't pregnant. Her previous doctor told her it was residual from the baby that had been weaned for 14 months. I immediately sent her in for a brain scan and found a tumor — we removed it and now she's doing fine.
16.A patient came in with numbness in his hand and was originally told it was due to anxiety, but I ordered a CT scan to be sure, and he actually had a glioblastoma multiforme — a very aggressive brain tumor — that went completely ignored.
17.A patient was referred to me because he was told he needed physical therapy for lower back pain, when, in fact, he had an untreated kidney infection.