April 5, 2023 | Eul Basa

Wildly Unethical Doctors

When we visit the doctor, we’re really putting our life into their hands. We’re at our most vulnerable—which makes the actions of these unethical medical professionals all the more disturbing. Check out what these Redditors revealed when they came together to share stories of unprofessional doctors who completely ignored that whole "do no harm" thing.

1. Tattletale

I went to see a doctor who happens to be an acquaintance of my parents. I told him I had a few symptoms that worried me. He immediately thinks it's an STD, asks me if I am active. I say yes and he recommends that I go do a blood test at some hospital. I go to my girlfriend’s place to hang out, then come back home. My dad greets me at the door. I immediately know something is wrong.

He tells me we need to talk. The doctor called my dad and told him I am active and might...MIGHT have an STD. My dad didn't even know I had a girlfriend. At this point, I am seriously mad. But it didn’t end there.

That week, I go do my blood test, hospital sends results to the doctor and he calls my parents, again, to say that I am clean. It makes me mad every time I think about it. I was 21, why the heck are you calling my parents. 

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2. Ignorance Is Dangerous

As a pharmacist, I will sometimes call docs about interactions between medications. The other day the ER doc I talked to had never heard of the interaction I was calling on. His reaction was infuriating.

He said to tell the patient to take the meds anyway. I guess since you haven't heard of it, it must not be a thing. The ego on (some of) these guys is insane.

Unethical DoctorsPexels

3. Real-Life Grey’s Anatomy

I'm a physician and used to work 12-hour night shifts at this hospital in California. My co-worker (who was also a doctor and admittedly, a young and good looking fellow) and I covered pages from different floors. If there was nothing going on, I would usually be in my call room reading/sleeping/watching TV until a nurse would page me for a problem. My colleague's on call room shared the same wall with mine.

One night, I was reading in my room, when I started hearing my colleague and another woman hooking up. The noises started getting louder and fairly difficult to ignore—sorry, but she was pretty loud. Then, in the middle of this charade, I heard his pager go off several times without him answering it.

Eventually, I left the room and called the hospital operator. I asked her who had paged him and then called the nurse who was trying to get in touch with him.

It turns out, the page was for a patient that was in a serious condition and had to be taken to the ICU. I took care of everything and went back to my room. Later on, I told him that they were paging him for a critically ill patient overhead and that he must have fallen asleep. I didn't say anything about hearing his allegro chamber bedroom orchestra. But I think he knew that I knew because he got red and thanked me for covering for him.


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4. Whoops

I'm not a doctor but was a medical assistant working in a gynecologist's office. There was a patient scheduled for an IUD (intra uterine device) insertion. Her insurance company did not pay for the device itself so the patient had to pick it up and pay for it herself prior to the appointment. While the doctor was doing the insertion, it was dropped from her instrument onto the floor.

The doctor just picked it up and continued with the procedure. Afterward, I was told not to say anything and she punctuated the sentence by saying, "Do you know how much bacteria is in there already"? Nothing ever happened to the patient as far as I know…but still. What the heck. And yes, I still bow my head in shame for never speaking up.

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5. Lying Through His Teeth

There was an old dentist in my home town who was well liked. He was the sort of old timey dentist that wouldn't give you Novocain or anything like that. For anything more complicated than a filling, he would pull the tooth. He preserved the teeth in his basement in a barrel of chemicals to keep it from smelling.

He later put said teeth into a concrete memorial for his dog, thousands and thousands of teeth. After he passed on, everyone learned he wasn't even a licensed dentist.

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6. Last Wishes

I'm a General Surgery resident. We had a patient that had been on our service for about a year. Older fellow, very sick. Every now and then, he would go into respiratory distress, get intubated (or bipap) for a bit, and always would bounce back to his baseline of 8/10 sick. Everyone called him "the rock". But not in a cool "Do you smell what The Rock is cooking" way. In a sick-person-that-sits-there way.

Well, he had always been a full code. That means that in case of dying, we do everything we can to keep him alive. After a looooong time of being inpatient, my attending was sick of him and made a seriously twisted decision. He made him a DNR/I, which means we had to let him pass if he starts to struggle. He didn't want this, but they got away with it by saying that he did not have full mental capacity.

So talks with the family started and they specifically stated that they wanted full code, which means we'd have to do everything we could to save him. My attending didn't agree and decided to call them to confirm. But we think he purposefully called the wrong number many times and eventually decided for himself that the patient was DNR/I.

Two days later, the guy went into respiratory distress and didn’t make it. I came to rounds the next morning to two attendings yelling and screaming about the "right thing to do".

Maybe I feel that it's better that he passed as well. But he and his family’s wishes were ignored and purposefully evaded. I could never go against someone's wishes.

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7. Negligence In Action

My father is a psychiatric nurse and he will openly say how jaded he is by the incompetent people he works with. He has been employed as a registered nurse since the 1970s. But in recent decades the government has slashed the mental health budget, so instead of hiring qualified nurses who command a higher wage, they hire what are essentially babysitters with no experience.

His patients are seriously mentally disabled, not the type who need to be put in a straitjacket and sedated but grown men with the intelligence of four-year-olds. These babysitters know nothing about restraining them when they get violent, they just cower in the corner and wait for the one or two nurses in the building. There's also a lot to be said about the character of these "babysitters". My dad told me about one patient who had a phobia of cicadas, so this jerk colleague thought it would be funny to catch a cicada and chase the poor patient around the grounds with it.

The worst case of incompetence he told me about happened at this hospital that was located within walking distance from a major six-lane motorway. Two nurses came in for their night shift. Patients are sleeping so workers on the night shift will watch tv or do anything else to keep themselves awake during quiet periods. These guys had brought in computer equipment with the intention of repairing or building a computer, I don't know.

The fact was that they were so engrossed in their task that they failed to notice one patient who had woken up and left the premises. It wasn't until emergency services showed up and told them that there had been a fatal accident on the motorway and a car had hit this patient, that these nurses realized anything was amiss.

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8. Lost In Translation

I'm not a doctor but a friend of mine's dad got diagnosed with colon cancer a while ago. They treated that and then the cancer spread to his liver. He had an operation to remove 60% of his liver but not too long after the procedure, they found cancer in his lungs. But here is the twisted part: He went to a different cancer center following the procedure, and they made a disturbing discovery.

They found that he had cancer in his lungs ALL ALONG. That's right! It said on file that the hospital he went to previously knew he had colon AND lung cancer at the same time—for three months—and were never going to tell him!

They intentionally were keeping it from him. The man is interested in pursuing a lawsuit. I, for one, think the whole situation is awful. The cancer center said if they had treated the colon and lungs at the same time, he would have been better.

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9. Three Strikes, You’re Out

This was really a misunderstanding, but in college I thought I had an STD, that turned out to be a recurring case of a yeast infection I got from some fine young lady. The culture would come out negative for any STD, but the symptoms would return. The college doctor was a woman and this was my third appointment in a row where I had to tell her the symptoms were back even though the tests were negative and I had taken all the meds.

She turned me away because she thought I was a creep who was into her performing the culture test.

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10. The Truth Always Comes Out

This happened a few years ago and began when I was a third year medical student during my general surgery clerkship. This department was dysfunctional on a level I had never encountered before or since. I could write a book of the insanity I witnessed there.

So anyway, this particular incident starts about a month into the clerkship. By now, us med students had settled into our roles there and learned the daily ins and outs.

When I get there, the attending covering the ER greets me and gives me a rundown of the patients currently there. He says they have an interesting patient that was just brought in, a woman in her early 70s was just brought in by an ambulance—actually, a second ambulance.

She had gone to her GP complaining of dizziness, and the GP sent her on to the hospital. The GP was concerned about her driving in her state, so they called an ambulance to drive her to the hospital. That’s when disaster struck. On the way to the hospital, the ambulance got into a car accident and flipped on its side, so the woman was then picked up by a second ambulance and brought to the hospital.

Now in addition to getting a workup for the dizziness, there was concern of internal injuries stemming from the car accident. So she gets a CT, and afterward gets parked in the "urgent" room of the ER. The patient is hooked up to every monitor and then some, but she is awake and seemingly in good spirits.

I apologize for the detail here but I want to paint a vivid picture of just how incredibly messed up what happened really was.

So at this point I go over and introduce myself—I'll call her Mrs X at this point for sake of ease.

A little bit later on, we get the CT with the radiologist's report, which says there are no internal injuries noted and no bleeding. The attending reviews the CT and report, as does the resident, and things seem to be fine. We were so wrong.

Ok, so I get through the night, periodically checking up on Mrs X in between my other tasks, and at around 11 pm, the attending says it’s pretty slow so I can call it a night. I say goodbye to the staff, say goodnight to Mrs X and that I will see her in the morning.

So I go home and crash. I get up the next day and head in around 5:30 for the regular morning meeting that comes before rounds. When I arrive, I can immediately sense that something is off in the room. Everyone is visibly on edge and quiet, not even whispering among themselves. They're waiting for the department head to arrive and kick off the meeting.

So the department head arrives and he looks very unhappy. He walks into the room without saying a word and sits at the head of the table. There are now more than 30 people in the room, mostly attending physicians, residents, and med students. About 30 seconds passes without him saying a word, and then he just lets loose.

He was talking really fast and was so angry it took a couple of moments to piece together exactly what happened. At around one or two in the morning, Mrs X started having trouble staying conscious. She was rushed to the ICU, and at the time of the meeting, she was in a coma with a very low likelihood of recovering.

Apparently, the radiologist, attending, and resident all missed what was a very obvious lacerated spleen. And to make matters much, much worse the resident on call wrote in her chart ordering "24 hour observation"—but he wasn’t specific about what.

Without instructions for what to do, the medical staff (attending, resident, nurses) all just sort of passed by her assuming that someone else was on it, or assuming that since there were not clear instructions everything was "alright". Lots of people got in trouble—but the story didn’t end there.

So now fast forward a couple of months. At this point, I have finished my surgical clerkship, and a couple of clerkships that followed it. Now I'm rotating through a family medicine clinic in the suburbs about a half hour from the hospital. And on this particular day we get and elderly gentleman coming in complaining of a cough or a cold, I can't quite remember what his original complaint was.

Anyway, the doctor I'm working under—let’s call him Mike—says that this patient, Mr X, is an interesting story. Doctor Mike says that a couple months earlier Mr X's wife came in complaining of dizziness, and he sent her to the hospital to get a more thorough work-up. Mr X then tells me what happened to his wife, as he was told by her doctors at the hospital—a surgeon from the department I clerked at.

They said that on her way to the hospital the first ambulance ran a red light, and in the ensuing accident she suffered an internal injury. Here’s where it gets infuriating. After she passed, they told him that there was nothing they could’ve done. They said they did everything they could and that she ultimately succumbed to her injuries.

When he was telling me this, he was getting a bit irate because he said when he was with her late that night in the ER—this would be prior to being rushed to the ICU—he had been trying to get the attention of a doctor or nurse to no avail for a couple hours because he thought she was worsening.

So with little recourse left and being told that it was the ambulance drivers at fault, he was currently suing them.

I remember him telling me his story so vividly, because I was so overcome with anger during the whole thing. First at being reminded of such a stupid mistake by so many people that ultimately led to Mrs X's untimely passing, and then infinitely angrier when it became clear how much he had been lied to or intentionally misled concerning his wife. A moment later, I knew exactly what to do.

I vividly remember how not at all conflicted I felt when I told him everything I knew about the situation regarding his wife: That I was on call when she arrived to the ER, that I spoke with her throughout the early evening, that multiple doctors missed the lacerated spleen in her imaging, and about the resident's mistake in the chart that escaped the notice of the attending and led to his wife being basically ignored until she was comatose.

I even told him about the conference the following morning where it was clear that everyone in the department knew what ultimately caused Mrs X to perish, and that he was clearly being lied to by whomever he spoke with.

I remember the look on Doctor Mike's face, almost a look of shock and happiness. Doctor Mike and I had really hit it off from the start of my Family Medicine rotation. And I could see he was happy that I decided to speak up and tell the truth about what happened, instead of just keeping quiet to protect a fellow doctor.

It was at that point, of course, that I remembered, "Shoot, I'm still a third year medical student. And I just outed what could be at the minimum a serious lawsuit and at worse a scandal at the primary hospital of the medical school I attend. And I could face very serious retaliation over this".

Fortunately for me, Mr X was extremely mindful of my situation, and he and Doctor Mike told me that they would keep my name out of anything that happened going forward.

To this day, I still keep in touch with Doctor Mike periodically to see how things are going. Last I had heard about Mr X was a couple years ago. He had his lawyer go after the doctors responsible and the department of surgery. Knowing this was a case of egregious medical error, the hospital offered to settle. And because they were now aware that the doctors actually lied to them and tried to cover up their error, Mr X got a settlement almost an order of magnitude larger then he would have had it been just an egregious error, minus the lying.

I know that this does not make up for Mrs X—and, frankly, I wish he hadn't settled but taken them to court and try to have the medical licenses of all those involved stripped—but Mr X did what he needed to for him and his family to move on from their tragedy.

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11. A Hairy Situation

I had what I thought was a pilonidal cyst (large cyst that forms at the top of your posterior). I was in a lot of pain and couldn't even sit down. I went to the first little doc-in-a-box urgent care center I could find, and they deemed it a really bad ingrown hair, but agreed to my pleas to lance it to relieve pressure.

I'm rather hairy. Like, my hair line starts at my forehead and doesn't stop till my ankles. In many people's eyes, not a pretty sight. I may mention that at the time of my visit, it's like 7:30 am. So I'm the first patient of the day. Me and my giant ingrown follicle on my hairy behind are how the poor doctor and her nurse had to start their Monday morning.

I go into the tiny OR, strip down, put on a gown, and they come in and get to it. I bleed profusely. They do their thing, stuff medicated gauze in the cut, toss down a handful of wet naps, and very coldly and dryly tell me to get cleaned up, they're done.

After feeling a bit humiliated to begin with, it takes me a good 10 minutes to clean myself. The doc and her nurse walked back in on me without a stitch of clothing on—twice—only to sigh and give a snarky comment like "Not done yet"?, while rolling their eyes.

I couldn't get out of there quick enough. I know I wasn't a pleasant patient and all, but they made me feel horrible. I was in immense pain and needed help, fast. I wasn't expecting sunshine and rainbows with my issue, but I wasn't expecting horrible bedside manner and a total lack of respect either.

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12. Home Alone

Interns are not supposed to be in the hospital alone—it is a requirement for all residency programs. There should always be a senior resident or faculty member in-house. This is with good reason because interns lack experience.

When I was a brand new intern, a senior resident that I was working with regularly used to go home in the middle of night shift and leave me to cover everything. She would come back right before morning rounds. She was an awful resident who had many problems along the way but somehow, she ended up in a very nice, high-paying job. Some people fail upward!

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13. The Placebo Effect

My partner was to be put on a trial for a medium-severity blood clot, so maybe she gets the test med, maybe she gets the placebo. We're already pretty freaked out and worried. I'm trying to stay awake every night, fearing that I'll sleep through a medical emergency. One night, the trial's nurse sidles up to us—and what she said made me furious.

She whispers: "Let me let you in on something. The real pill burns a little, so you can tell if you're in the control group or not". I keep the seething anger in check until she leaves the room. Let's see here. You've just deprived my partner of any placebo effect if she is in the control group, you jerk.

Plus, you've just messed the stats on your trial. How much depends on how many people she tells this to. Because the difference in effect between the experimental (drug) and control (placebo) groups will be exaggerated because you'll now be measuring the difference in effect between the med and nothing.

I so desperately wanted to complain, considered it my duty to complain, but we were at their mercy for treatment and were scared of any kind of reprisal, so we kept quiet for the time being.

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14. What Are The Odds?

My mom is a nurse that worked at a hospice. She was known among the other nurses as having a gift. When it was coming time for a patient to reach his or her end, my mom would be able to guess the time of when they’d pass on, usually within 5-10 minutes.

The nurses would make betting pools and really were fascinated by what my mom could do. They would tip her off on a patient in bad condition and she would go in and take their temperature, feel the feet, and check their pulse and walk out with an exact time. She won a lot of money and free lunches in her stay there.

When a higher management official approached her one day about it, she immediately started to apologize for her unprofessionalism. The manager stopped her and told her she was in fact impressed by her ability.

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15. None Of Your Business

My doctor denied giving a referral to me for a gynecologist at age 16, even though my mother was the one asking, because it was against his personal beliefs to help provide teenagers with a way for having unprotected premarital relations. Totally not his place.

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16. Wait And C

Thank god my husband was in the room when I gave birth. The doc I had was the on-call for my regular doc, who had a family emergency. After two hours of good labor, he started to tell me that I'd probably need a C-section. No reason, we figured it was just after midnight and he wanted to go home. He started telling us some story about heart rate and oxygen. But there was one thing he didn’t count on.

My husband and I were both nurses so told him "no, absolutely not". There were no problems with my son's heart rate. We were watching the monitors very carefully. I hate that guy, he was a jerk all the way through my labor and delivery. He's probably done it to lots of unsuspecting people.

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17. Going YOLO

This is about an interesting moral quandary my father, an oncologist, encountered. He had just given a patient a very bad diagnosis, something very much terminal, and not much time left to live. The guy said he was going to go on a spending spree with all his credit cards and gift away a lot of the stuff to loved ones.

My dad confides that he technically had an obligation to report such information to credit bureaus or whatever, but after a little thought figured what the heck, let the dying guy have his day.

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18. Blood Feud

In the Seattle area, the undisputed rulers of mass Lasik eye surgery were Drs King and Mocovak. King and Mocovak were on all the radio stations. They comped DJs and talk hosts free Lasik in return for on-air testimonials. Everyone in the metro area knew Drs King and Mocovak; they were household names. Then the dark truth came out.

It turned out that Dr Mocovak tried to hire a Russian hitman to off Dr King. The practice collapsed and a lot of radio hosts had to explain their affection for a guy who was up for conspiracy to commit murder. Dr Mocovak got 20 years in the can…and Dr King is still in the Lasik game.

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19. Getting High On Your Own Supply

My psych teacher told us a story about his time working in a hospital. There was a pediatrics doctor working on kids who passed out and hit the floor for no apparent reason. It turns out he had an IV bag strapped to his leg and he was chasing the dragon with morphine pretty much 24/7 for like a week and nobody noticed.

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20. Double Dealing

My mom used to investigate Medicare and Medicaid cases for the state of Arizona. Sometimes this included visiting hospitals or doctor’s offices. One day, she gets a new file on her desk—and when she sees the name, her jaw drops.

The doctor listed is my family doctor. For ethical reasons, she had to pass the case to a co-worker…but in the end, they discovered my doctor was running a whole operation dealing illicit substances out of his office.

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21. A Brutal Mistake

I’m in university for psych in Sweden and I have lots of med student friends. A couple of weeks back, we heard of a tragedy involving a senior med student from our university, when he was doing the rounds of a small town hospital.

A patient came in with what seemed like a fat pouch on his back…a pretty standard procedure, I’ve been told. Cut it off and you're done. The student was supervised by a local surgeon.

Well, it wasn’t a fat pouch. It was his nerves being bunched up and protruding, and in cutting the "pouch" this student doomed his patient to being paralyzed from the neck down.

Naturally, the surgeon is in deep trouble, being the supervisor and responsible for the patient. But the med student quit straight away. He couldn't take it.

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22. Quantity Over Quality

I was an endoscopy technician for a few years in my early twenties. I worked with a doctor that would book over 30 cases in a day, perform endoscopies in under a minute and colonoscopies in under five. But it gets worse.

If his schedule had any open blocks, he would go "shopping" around the hospital for more patients to squeeze in. These patients were often over 90 years old and had varying levels of dementia. He'd convince them or their caregivers that they needed colonoscopies for something as mundane as a change in bowel habits.

I've also seen a few examples of downright incompetence and laziness during complicated procedures, and there were a few doctors that were known for throwing tantrums. The "shopping" doctor would throw his desk phone across the room at least once a month. I was 20 years old at the time but I often felt like I was babysitting children.

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23. The Most Patient Of Patients

I broke my arm on an Independence Day weekend. I broke it bad, so bad that after the x-rays were done, the ER doctors and nurses kept calling each other over to the computer monitor, saying "Hey, you gotta see this"!

My elbow was literally shattered into over a hundred pieces, and eventually had to be replaced with a metal elbow. Normally, the doctors in the ER will patch up a broken bone, but this was so messed up they had to bring in the orthopedic surgeon on-call that day—except he didn't come in. They paged him, multiple times. It was five hours before he returned the page.

Remember, this was the orthopedic surgeon who was supposed to be available to come in on a moment's notice. Meanwhile, I'm flat on my back in a bed, and the hospital staff was making all the preparations for the surgery on my elbow. Finally, five hours after he's first paged, the orthopedic surgeon calls in, and looks at my x-rays via a remote connection.

One of the ER docs comes into my cubicle to tell me they're going to be discharging me because my situation is not an emergency, and therefore does not require immediate attention. I overheard the same ER doc telling my nurse the surgeon just didn't want to come in on a long weekend.

I was sent home and scheduled for surgery the following week. I filed a complaint with the state medical board who, of course, did nothing.

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24. Too Much Too Soon

I’m not a doctor, but I work in a nursing home. Once I had a patient whose son was a doctor, and a friend of a doctor associated with the nursing home. When her health started to decline, the primary doctor called and ordered sublingual morphine solution—but something was wildly off.

He wanted to give her 40mg every hour. A normal dose for someone who is opiate-naïve—which this woman was—is 5mg every two to four hours. I refused to take this order from the MD and called my supervisor, who also refused to take the order. We had to involve the medical director for the facility, who decided that 40mg was an unethical dose.

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25. Now That’s Dark

My uncle got his leg cut off years ago and ended up addicted to pain pills. This one doctor in our town would prescribe them to him…only if he'd do his dirty work. He ended up turning him in because he wanted my uncle to burn someone's house down with them in it. When my uncle went to scope the place out, he refused because there were children in the home.

The doctor flat out told him he didn't care and to burn it down with the whole family in it. I don't remember all the details but my uncle ended up turning him in and getting clean. The doctor ended up behind bars for doing this to multiple people around town.

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26. Lost & Found

Young and having feminine problems, I had no insurance and couldn't afford a regular doctor. Being that I lived in the south, their health departments were really all I could afford.

I went in for a pelvic exam due to irregular and lengthy bleeding during my cycles. Of course, this visit occurred when I wasn't, but it was a rare window. I scheduled the first day I could and figured it'd be the usual lady I always saw up there.

Not this time. No, this time it was an old lady who was either hard of hearing or just didn't care about my answers to her questions. She goes through the checklist before she tells me to disrobe and come back to get in the stirrups.

No big deal, I've done this a few times and she hadn't seemed TOO incompetent thus far. That is until I'm up on the table. My feet are in the stirrups and I’m clenching the table. This isn't a fun procedure by any means, but depending on the nurse/doctor it can either go better than expected, or you're breaking someone's hand because it hurts so bad.

I didn't have anyone there to hold hands with, so I was clutching the table like my life depended on it. She kept telling me to relax, and I knew that, but she was rooting around in there like an unexplored treasure chest. That's when she uttered the four words I’ll never forget.

She says: "I can't find it".

My head popped up and I tried to look at her over my gown that draped over my knees, but all I could see was her curly hair as she hunched over, poking around more. Each poke was extremely painful, and I was just about to squeak out "WHAT CAN'T YOU FIND"?!?!

But that's when the worst part happened. There was a knock at the door. Heart pounding, my head swivels at the sound but I'm immediately yanked back as she yells into my lady bits, "COME IN"! Shocked, a bit dismayed, and with no way to close my legs, I gulp as another nurse walks in.

She wasn't paying attention to what was going on in the room, but looked up from the file and stopped mid-step. We made eye contact. That awkward sort of look where neither of you know what to say, but I guess the look in my eyes and sheer terror made her hesitate long enough that the elderly and blind woman poking about my baby maker, thought this would be a good time to ask a question.

She says, "I need your help. I can't find her cervix".

The other nurse was red in the face, and I just let my head flop back on the table. Completely embarrassed, I just laid there and waited while the other nurse expertly pointed out where it was. At this point, I feel a bit violated. Sure this nurse was, well, a nurse, but she could have been anybody, and this old lady had just told her to come on in while I was spread eagle.

I got dressed and left. Never went back. From then on out I forked over the cash to see a real doctor.

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27. A Numbers Game

I'm a nurse but I took a job working post open-heart ICU at a small regional hospital that had lost their senior cardiac surgeons several years before and hired two new guys. The cardiology group that left moved a majority of their practice to another hospital across town that ended up becoming one of the top 100 cardiac hospitals in the US.

The hospital I took a job at was desperately trying to compete and was collecting data on their open-heart patients and their outcomes to submit for some sort of cardiac center certification. Certain things like post-op infection and losses within 30 days after surgery are BIG dings against their data. When the numbers weren't looking good they hid things.

For example, a patient a few days out of surgery clearly began to develop an infection in his sternal incision. I watched as the PA squeezed pus out of it. When I asked if they wanted a swab to send down for culture for antibiotic sensitivity, they shot daggers at me with their eyes and said, "No, this isn't an infection, but we'll start them on some broad-spectrum antibiotics for prophylactic treatment".

I was shocked. Sending a culture means it's documented in the chart somewhere that they had a clearly identified infection, but starting antibiotics because you want to try to "prevent" infection is okay.

They would also hold their post-open-heart patients that were not doing well—and probably shouldn't have been operated on in the first place—in the ICU for extended periods of time, even after they no longer met ICU criteria. Sometimes they would keep patients on the ventilator (sometimes without sedation) for extended periods of time as well just to keep them in the ICU.

After 30 days, they were shipped to a nursing facility—some of them passed on after several weeks. They were having us keep these patients in the ICU where we could keep them alive but not necessarily make them better and then send them off to perish somewhere else when it wouldn't affect their data. I left that job after a couple months.

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28. Bad Sport

I trained under a sports-trained Orthopaedic surgeon. He was one of the most unethical people I've ever met. During his clinic, he would not review imaging he ordered, not examine the patient (or perform a sham exam), and signed 90% of patients up for surgery without any real indication that they needed it.

In the OR, I've seen him take down healthy ACLs and replace them, debride large reparable meniscal tears, and make rotator cuff/labral tears to then fix. Then he would bill for three or four procedures that he didn't do during the case.

It was hard to be a part of. The entire community was aware of his shenanigans but no one seemed interested in doing anything about it. Horrible.

Unethical DoctorsShutterstock

29. Brace Yourself

When I was 13, I had braces put on. The orthodontist told me when I first had them on I would probably only need them for about six months. Three and a half years later, I demanded he take them off or I would take them off myself.

He took them off, my mom got copies of all the x-rays he had ever taken of me, and we went to another orthodontist for a second opinion. It turns out I really hadn't needed them after the first six months, and the guy was milking my insurance, which paid for all of it.

Medical UnprofessionalsPexels

30. Starving For Attention

My mum, who has pulmonary hypertension and scleroderma, was scheduled for surgery at 7 am, and told that she couldn't eat or drink anything after 10 pm the night before or take her medications, which is pretty standard.

The morning of her surgery, we wait for the surgeon to show, the nurses keep coming and telling us that he's stuck in a complicated surgery. 8am passes, 10 am passes, my mum is getting sicker and more miserable, unable to drink a sip of water or anything.

At close to 1 pm, my sister and I step out into the hall and make a twisted discovery. The surgeon is out there laughing and joking with another doctor about the golf game they'd been playing all morning and then the great lunch they had, completely unaware that we are the family of the patient he was supposed to be helping, but decided to mistreat instead.

Unethical DoctorsPexels

31. Invasion Of Privacy

So a few years ago, I went to the walk-in doctor because I thought I had chlamydia. Doctor took a quick look and came to the same diagnosis and wrote me a prescription for some sort of antibiotic. Then he's like, "Actually, I might have some left over from another patient", and proceeds to go into his drawer pull out a bottle full of the right pills and hands them to me.

"Take one a day for the next week", he tells me. I walk out and look at the orange bottle and see that it still has the previous patient’s label on it, including their full name. That walk-in clinic was closed down about a year later, I can't imagine why...

These Nurses Dared To Correct The Doctor Pexels

32. A Creepy Collection

I'll add this late because it's so bizarre. I'm a senior in nursing school, and I've seen some unethical stuff—but nothing as interesting as this story my instructor told us.

She was working in the OR in another state, and there was one surgeon who, every time he did a surgery—or maybe just a lot of the time, like if he was really proud of it—would note somewhere on the paperwork that the left big toenail was necrosed and so he removed it while the patient was under.

She reported him, but she doesn't know what happened because her husband got transferred and she moved across the country. Somewhere, there is a surgeon with hundreds of toenails.

How Are You Alive?Pexels

33. Running In Circles

I had an appointment after two years of absence and they apparently had lost all my records. They asked, "So is this your first time"? and I had to tell them "No, I've been going here since X year and you diagnosed me with this".

I checked and they only get rid of your records after three years, so mine should have been kept. So they put me through all sorts of tests, including an ultrasound, just to come to the same diagnosis and medication that they gave me last time. I wasn't too happy with that bill.

These Ignorant Doctors Are The WorstPicryl

34. Caught In The Act

I was a case manager and would see people to make sure they are getting the services they need. I was in a nursing facility and it was medication time on the locked unit. I waited for the nurse to finish passing out meds so she could let me off the unit. She obviously didn't see me—but I saw her.

She took a paper med cup out of her pocket, put a pill in it and stuck it back in her pocket. I reported it and needless to say she was fired on the spot. I wonder how long she had been stealing medication?

Hilarious Anesthesia MomentsShutterstock

35. Cutting Corners

I was broke, so I went to urgent care instead of the emergency room and it was something like nine days to get in to see my doctor. I told the urgent care center that it felt like my ear was full of water, sounds were muted, the ear hurt badly, and it was causing equilibrium issues where things like elevators or a passing train made me dizzy.

He looked in my ear, said it looks fine, and gave me a prescription for a motion sickness med. When I finally go in to see my doctor, she looked in my ear for two seconds and said: "Whoa, that's pretty infected".

The same urgent care doctor asked for my allergies on a different visit. I tell him penicillin. So he looks at me and asks, "How allergic to penicillin are you"? Ummm...Hives, rash, certain to pass on. You know...

So he has the nurse give me a shot. Holy smokes, it hurt a lot. Never had a shot feel like that before. When I told her, she said: "Yeah, we've had people pass out from the pain of this shot before. We contacted the manufacturer and they recommend we mix it with Lidocaine".

Yeah, they didn't heed the manufacturer’s advice and kept pumping out the most painful injections in the history of medicine. I don't go to urgent care anymore.

These Nurses Dared To Correct The DoctorPexels

36. Fudging The Numbers

I briefly worked at the front desk clerk for an ER at a local hospital. The rule was that anyone that came in complaining of chest pains had to be taken back and put on a machine within 10 minutes of arrival. Once I entered their name into the system, a clock started. So I was told not to enter their name until they had already been taken back to essentially make our numbers look better and make it appear as though they were receiving care within the prescribed 10 minutes.

People complaining of chest pains were typically brought back quickly, just not always within the 10 minute guideline, although generally faster than anyone else. This mostly seemed to be just about producing better stats. Although keeping it off the system gave them the ability to delay.

Entitled peopleShutterstock

37. No Thanks

I was getting a severe wound on my shin cleaned of debris with a scrub brush. The doctor for some reason wasn't wearing any face protection—big mistake. She managed to splash wound juice into her mouth. Her response was a "Pffbt plbbft pbffftt, ahhhh, I got your juices in my mouth"!

I was horrified. And I never returned.

Unethical DoctorsShutterstock

38. Passing The Buck

I'm not a doctor (yet), but when I was shadowing a doctor I went with her to a "malpractice risk management" meeting. The entire meeting was about how to cover up malpractice by shifting the blame on each other so no one can get sued, how to avoid testifying against each other in court, and how to use messy handwriting when filling out documents so if it does go to court, the evidence is hard to interpret.

It even used dozens of examples of cases from the hospital that were actual malpractice, but the patient never got compensated because of the risk management techniques used to avoid being sued. That meeting absolutely horrified me. The funny thing is most people think it’s easy to sue a doctor for even genuine malpractice. It isn't.

Medical Blunders factsShutterstock

39. All Mixed Up

Patient here. For the past eight years, I've taken an opioid for severe spine pain. I take it exactly as prescribed and don't overdo it.

A few days ago, I'm at the doctor’s office getting my refill. I'm having a painful two-week long flare up, and in agony.  I ask the doc, "Is there anything you can inject me with for breakthrough pain so I can avoid a trip to the ER"?

He says: "Let's see here, yep yep, we can easily get this medication called Nubain"—while perusing Wikipedia, which did set off a red flag.

Me: "Sounds good".

Him: "Okay, but first, you should know that it may lower the effectiveness of the medication already in your system". I told him I took a 40mg pill four hours earlier.

Me: "No worries, I'll just take more, gimme that injection".

Nice doc injects me. Five minutes later, it begins. I went into precipitated withdrawal. For seven hours, I was on his tile floor, screaming at literal maximum lung capacity, hallucinating, telling him my skin was on fire, and that I wanted something to cut my arm open and show him the "fire" under my skin.

I smashed my hands and head by repeatedly banging them into the floor. I blacked out. I thought I was having a heart attack. I begged him to take care of my dog because I knew I was gonna die.

I begged for an ambulance, but he refused. I kept screaming, "What is wrong with you? Get me an ambulance"! He simply walked into his office and shut the door.

Later, I looked up the medication he’d given me, and discovered the devastating truth. You never give Nubain to a chronic opiate user because it is meant for people suffering overdoses as it triggers instant withdrawal. Or, you give it to people with NO opiates in their system for moderate to severe pain.

That sick jerk hid me from the hospital and the local ambulance, because he's also the medial director of the ambulance company. He kept me on the floor for seven hours, did not check my vitals once—until the Nubain wore off and I was able to stagger into the backseat of my car at midnight, and collapse there and sleep. It was far more comfortable than his stupid floor.

He insists Nubain was appropriate, and  found the entire episode amusing.

Medical Mistake Horror StoriesShutterstock

40. Involuntarily Committed

My aunt has been a political activist for her whole life. She was engaged to Davy Jones, she befriended Johnny Cash and she did a whole bunch of other crazy things. Fast forward to the present, her husband is sick and not going to make it much longer, she's scared and is battling with her own depression, and bipolar.

She had a meltdown one day and went for a walk with the dog. Her husband couldn't find her so he called the authorities because it was getting dark out. It turns out she was down the street at the neighbors’ house. She was transported to the nearest hospital. That's when her living nightmare began.

She didn't understand why they were there, she was just crying saying my husband is dying. When she got to the emergency room, they did not attend to her for over 24 hours. She went in on a Monday night and she was in the ER hallway until about Wednesday afternoon. When I mean in the hallway, I mean she was literally on a stretcher against the wall in a cramped hallway for two days with no one tending to her.

I stayed there until 3 am and was with her the whole next day and she was treated like an animal. I get it. I work with mentally ill people every day, but this was ridiculous. They told us they were moving her to a "behavioral unit". I thought, that's kind of odd, she's not acting out, she's just severely depressed.

In the back basement of the hospital, there is a cement ward that is a perfect square. The walls are lined with 10 massive metal doors leading to rooms. Each room was about 10 feet by 10 feet. The walls were scratched and there was nothing but a stretcher in her room. The window to the room was about 4 inches by 4 inches.

She was kept in there, there were no lights you could turn on to yourself. All around people were puking on the floor, screaming at each other, getting physical and she just sat inside that cell in the dark crying until they decided it was time to deal with her. When that day came, it was about Thursday into Friday at this point. Finally, they transport her to the psych ward. But this ordeal was far from over.

The woman asked my aunt questions about her past. My aunt told her about how Davy Jones was her best friend and recently passed on, so she's still in pain every day from that. She told her about finishing her dissertation on Charles Dickens. She told her about working for Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign writing speeches—all of which is true—and the doctor goes, "Oh, so you're intelligent"?! I swear to God, exact words.

After her evaluation, I ran after the doctor into their office. I expressed to her that, this may sound crazy but it all happened. This is my aunt, she's been my role model and best friend since I could remember. These are all things we look up to her for, the things she's accomplished, these are all real. The doctor said, "Oh, so she's not psychotic"? No. No ma'am.

They then proceeded to bring in a consent form. Mind you, I was there through all of this, as requested by my aunt. They told her that unfortunately they're going to have to admit her and if she doesn't sign they are going to "take her to court".

My aunt made the mistake of not taking care of her medical proxy and signing the paper. It took my mother and I three days to convince the doctors to release her into our care. We begged. She was just sitting in a cement room alone on her birthday. So messed up.

From the time she stepped off the ambulance to the time she sat in that cell, she was completely cooperative. She was treated like an animal. The mental health system is so bad and then you see it firsthand every day and it seems impossible to deal with.

After being released and putting together all of the events and paper work, her lawyer decided there was enough to press charges. At the moment, she doesn't want to. She wants to be stable and aware. She told me that it was one the worst experiences ever and she just wants to leave it behind and never think about it again, like a bad dream.

Haunting Last WordsShutterstock

41. Bullet Dodged

My sister went into an urgent care clinic attached to the office of her regular doctor since her doctor couldn't see her that day. She was 5-6 months pregnant at the time. I don't remember what she went in for, but she made sure the doctor she saw knew she was pregnant just in case it wasn't obvious.

He prescribed her some antibiotics and before leaving she asked to make sure she could take it while pregnant and he said sure, but my sister wasn't so sure as the doc didn't seem to really pay any attention to her the whole time. She gets to the pharmacy and asks the pharmacist about it. His answer made her blood run cold.

The pharmacist lets her know that what she was prescribed should NEVER be taken by a pregnant woman.

Explain to an adultShutterstock

42. Instant Karma

I was a patient. I was hospitalized a few years ago with Intracranial Hypertension—too much spinal fluid, pressing on my brain. I couldn't sit up, eat, drink or take any meds, otherwise I would projectile vomit. I had the worst headache and backache I've ever known. Two incidents come to mind from my nine-day stay.

Firstly, I had to have all meds via IV or injection. One morning, a nurse I hadn't seen before came in. She had just got back from her holiday. The board above my head clearly stated nothing was to be given by mouth, and yet she did the meds round and handed me a cup with 12 pills in. I told her I couldn't take them or I would be sick.

Her reaction was infuriating. She just said "Well, you have to at least try". And since I had effectively had a migraine for five days at this point I wasn't feeling very amicable. I knew just what to do. I took the pills and immediately projectile vomited all over her.

The second incident involved a doctor who I dubbed "the jerk". She would only talk to me when I had no visitors. She wouldn't ask anyone to step outside for a minute, she would just wait until they had gone home. I was in a bay with five other ladies, feeling pretty darn sorry for myself, when she stormed in and proclaimed loudly: "I see you have a history of self-harm. What have you done to yourself this time? What pills have you been taking"?

I was left a complete wreck at that point, I had to call my mum to get her to come back in. She's a ward sister on a different unit, and came in wearing her uniform to give some of the staff the scare of a lifetime.

OMG I'm Dating An IdiotShutterstock

43. The Milk Of Amnesia

My dad had an experience back in Residency where he had a friend that was doing a stint in General Surgery. They were in the OR, and were prepping a patient to go under, and waiting on the results of some stuff they had sent to the lab earlier. Now, there's a med called Propofol that's used in anesthesia sometimes, that has a side effect of making you forget the last 30 seconds or so before it was administered. They were using Propofol with this patient.

Anyway, at some point, the lab came onto the OR intercom, asking for the doctor doing surgery there—by default it was on speaker, but they had a phone you could pick up to make it more private. So the doctor went over to the phone, picked it up and started talking. Unfortunately, the phone to the intercom was broken, and the lab just kept asking for the doctor over speaker.

Finally, the lab just figured the doctor was waiting for them to just give them the information, and started just babbling the results. "All biopsies you sent down tested positive for cancer. I gotta say though, I've never seen it this bad before. The cell counts are the highest I've ever seen. If these are accurate, this patient is screwed". There was just one problem. The patient was still awake.

Apparently right after that, the patient and the doctor’s eyes met, and then barely a second later the anesthesiologist administered the Propofol to knock the patient out, and make them lose their memory of the intercom incident. The doctor would then have a chance to explain the situation properly to the patient after they woke up.

My dad always said he was never sure if that was the right thing to do, but I don't think anyone would ever criticize that anesthesiologist for doing that.

Medical Nightmares factsShutterstock

44. Inside Man

In the later years of my grandparents living by themselves, my grandmother was prescribed very strong opioids, which hold a very high street value. My grandmother would always complain that she couldn't find her pain pills to my grandfather. He would just assume that she had misplaced them or taken them all as she was forgetful…until one day he walked in the kitchen and saw the pharmacy technician that would fill their prescriptions swiping all her meds.

This kid would fill the scripts than wait a couple of days and walk right through the front door in the middle of the day. My grandfather, being an 80-year-old WWII vet and former boxer, subdued and held this 25-year-old man until the authorities came.

Brutally Bad FriendsPexels

45. Rewriting History

When I was studying anesthesia in university, for practice routine I joined a gastric problem operation on an old patient who had a cardiac problem history. Normally some certain meds are not giving if a patient had a history such that. But the MD in charge of anesthesia listed a med not suitable for the patient. When I told him he refused and said that: "you follow my orders, you’re not here to discuss". Guess what happened after 15 minutes?

The patient had a cardiac arrest on bed and nobody could bring him back to life. The university's head of anesthesia came and saw the anesthesia report and pointed out the med given to the patient. The MD was clearly ashamed—and then the head doctor said something so disturbing, I’ve never forgotten it.

He went on saying, "Just destroy this report, write a new one, and we will cover you"…it was a happy ending for them, I guess.

Dumb PatientsPixabay

46. Say Goodnight

My wife who is a registered nurse in a long-term care facility saw this. The nurse that took over her hall when she left for the day said something along the lines of, "You know there's an easy way to calm these crazies down, right"?, but never elaborated.

So my wife watched the cart over a week and noticed that Benadryl was being given, but not showing up in anyone's charts. It get reported to management, and said nurse got fired.

These Nurses Dared To Correct The Doctor Pexels

47. Cover-Up Operation

Med student here. During one of my internal medicine clerkships in a small hospital, I got paged to a cardiorespiratory arrest in the cath lab. I arrived there and a whole team was already working a protocol on a patient that was undergoing a type of angioplasty earlier.

Apparently, the interventional cardiologist had just placed a stent and was withdrawing when the patient had the arrest. After 40-45 minutes of resuscitation the patient did not pick up so I was expecting them to just announce the time of death. That's when it got "unethical".

The whole staff agreed to just send the patient to the continuous care unit—knowing he’s gone—with a monitor showing a nurse's pulse and oximetry, and then tell the parents that the intervention was successful and that he needed observation before being discharged to the regular floor. The patient was then kept in the CCU and the staff told the family gradually that he was getting worse. Two hours later, they told them that he passed on because he couldn't tolerate the procedure.

All that to protect the cardiologist and help him keep a good reputation and record. After I asked around, they were apparently doing this for every arrest that would happen during catheterization in this hospital...

Worst Misdiagnoses FactsShutterstock

48. Better Safe Than Sorry

My wife had been experiencing severe heartburn-like pain for several days, which was not responding to antacids or proton pump inhibitors.

We went to the ER, where the doctor insisted I stay in the waiting room. I should’ve known something was off. He then not only failed to take a history, but actively stopped her from giving one.

He took an ECG, which was normal, and bundled her out the door with a spoonful of xylocaine viscous, a script for more PPIs, and instructions to see her doctor in a week.

A few hours later she was literally writhing in agony, so I said forget this, and took her to a different ER across town. The doctor there actually asked questions and listened to answers. He wheeled out an ultrasound—and when he looked at it, his reaction was chilling.

He said "whoa", and booked her in for an emergency cholecystectomy on the spot. The op took twice as long as expected. The thing was so swollen they had to drain it for ages before they dared move it.

The surgeon later told her that if she'd waited even a few more hours, it would most likely have burst, with hard-to-survive consequences.

I don't care about missing a diagnosis; that can happen to anyone. But missing a diagnosis because you will not LET your patient give a history…that’s just wrong.

Dumb PatientsPixabay

49. When The Doctor’s Away

My roommate in dental school was a medical student. There was some big scandal at the hospital he was doing a rotation at because an anesthesiologist left the OR with the nurse anesthetist and left the patient alone. Something went wrong and we lost the patient on the table.

Where were the two of them? They were getting down in a nearby unused room thinking that nothing could happen in just a few minutes...

Medical Blunders factsShutterstock

50. A Case Of CPD

I once knew an OB who didn't like to work after about 5pm, so at the end of office hours, if they had someone in labor they would swing by labor and delivery and find a reason to do a C-section on them. Sometimes they blamed the baby's heart rate tracing (justified or not), but the classic one would be that they would check the patient's cervix and lie about how dilated it was so it seemed as if labor wasn't progressing rapidly enough. Then they'd say "I just don't think this is going to work", cut her, and be home for dinner.

One of the real indications for Caesarean is CPD (cephalo-pelvic disproportion), which is where the baby's head is too big for the pelvis. But for this particular doc, we always said that they cut patients for CPD (Caesarean Prior to Dinner).

Unethical DoctorsShutterstock

Sources: Reddit,



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