| Atlanta, GA, USA | Extra Stupid, Family & Kids, Food & Drink, Health & Body

(A teenage girl who was seen earlier in my emergency department shift for vomiting has returned. When she was discharged earlier she was given prescriptions and told to only eat clear liquids for 24 hours. Her mother is with her.)

Patient: “I stopped vomiting while I was here but it started again when I was at home.”

Me: “Did you take the medicine you were prescribed?”

Mother: “The doctor said she should only eat clear liquids. That medicine is a pill. She can’t take it because it is not a clear liquid.”

Me: “Well, she should only eat clear liquids except for the medicine. The medicine will help control the vomiting.”

Mother: *starting to get louder and agitated* “I know what the doctor told her! I was sitting right here! You are not even the doctor! You don’t know! She can’t take that medicine because she can ONLY have clear liquids!”

(At this point then girl vomits again and I can clearly see undigested hamburger meat in the emesis bag.)

Me: “Did you eat a hamburger after you left the hospital earlier?”

Mother: “Well, she was hungry! She had to eat something!”

About To Be Dis-Appointed

| Northern Ireland, UK | Crazy Requests, Health & Body

(I am working reception. I have just arrived at work when one of the medical secretaries approaches me. She says that one of the doctors, a gastroenterologist, has phoned in sick, ironically with gastroenteritis! Most of his patients have been contacted to advise them not to turn up for that day’s clinic, but that there had been one or two who weren’t contactable. When these patients arrive for their appointments I am to just apologise and reassure them that another appointment will be made when the doctor returns to work. I did this for each patient, and most are okay about it. Some comment that it is a little inconvenient, but aren’t really angry or abusive as they acknowledged it isn’t our fault. An older lady approaches me with a younger woman, who looks to be in her 30s or 40s, and turns out to be her daughter. She hands me her letter.)

Mother: “I’m here for an appointment with Dr [Name].”

Me: “Unfortunately, madam, the doctor is off sick today. His secretary did try to phone his patients to let them know, but she must have been unable to contact you. I understand it is inconvenient for you, and I’m sorry you’ve been put out like this. You will be given another appointment when he returns to work.”

Daughter: “Oh!”

Mother: “What? But I came all the way in for my appointment!”

Me: “I understand that, but there isn’t anything else I can do for you. As I said I am sorry you have been inconvenienced like this.”

Daughter: “That’s all right.” *to her mum* “Come on, mum, let’s go.”

Mother: “This is f****** ridiculous! I f****** came all this way in for my appointment and you’re telling me the f****** doctor is off sick!? This is f****** outrageous! YOU CANNOT TREAT AN OLD WOMAN LIKE THIS!”

Me: “Believe me, madam, I understand completely. I would be frustrated if I was in your situation. Again, I’m very sorry for the inconvenience.”

Daughter: “Don’t worry about it. She’ll get re-booked when the doctor is back at work, right?”

Me: “Yes, of course. Once he is back to work his secretary will arrange another appointment.”

Daughter: “Okay, thank you.” *to her mother* “You see, mum? Nothing to worry about. Come on, let’s get you home.”

(She turns to walk away. Her mother reluctantly follows, before turning back to me.)

Mother: “So Dr. [Name] is off sick, is he?”

Me: “Yes, madam, unfortunately he has gastroenteritis.”

Mother: “WELL, HE F****** DESERVES IT!”

Enough To Make Your Bloodwork Boil

| USA | Health & Body

(I work in the outpatient lab at a large hospital. This conversion happens multiple times a day.)

Me: “Welcome. Let’s start with your last name.”

Patient: “I’m already in your system!”

Me: “I’m sure you are, but I need to look up your account in the system.”

(Patients often assume we know who they are and their entire medical history even if they have never met us. After verifying the patient’s account we need to get information about the actual order themselves.)

Me: “And which doctor ordered your lab work?”

Patient: “I don’t know. They just told me to come get bloodwork.”

Me: “Okay, who are ‘they’?”

Patient: “I don’t know, some one from the doctor’s office.”

Me: “And which doctor’s office is that?”

Patient: “I don’t know.”

(Sometimes patients have orders in the computer already but if there are multiple doctors we can’t just guess which one they are there for.)

Me: “Do you know what they want you to get done?”

Patient: “NO, just bloodwork.”

Me: “Do you know when they ordered the labs?”

Patient: “NO, I don’t know. They just told me to come to the lab and get my blood drawn!”

Me: “Well, if you don’t know then I don’t know either.”

Patient: “…”

Your Answer Just Morphed

| QLD, Australia | Health & Body

(I work at a day surgery as a nurse, and a large part of my job is to admit people for their procedure, which involves asking them various questions about their health and medical history. This is a very common conversation I have with at least one patient every day.)

Me: “Can you please confirm your name and date of birth for me?”

Patient: “Sure, it’s [Name] and [Date].”

Me: “Thanks for that. Now, a really important question: do you have any allergies?”

Patient: “Nope, no allergies.”

(Five minutes later, when I’ve nearly finished admitting them.)

Patient: “Oh, actually, I get a really bad reaction to morphine.”

Bad Grandma

| CA, USA | Family & Kids, Health & Body

(Working the Main Entrance Lobby desk, our job is to get the full name of the patient before putting a visitor wristband on the visitor and giving directions to the patient’s room. For security reasons we cannot allow anyone to enter the hospital without them giving the patient’s full name or stating where they are heading if they aren’t visiting a patient.)

Me: “Hello, how can I help you today?”

Visitor: “I am visiting someone who just had a baby.”

Me: “Okay, what is the patient’s name so I can see what room they are in?”

Visitor: “His name is [Name].”

Me: “Okay… there is no patient by that name. You said they were in maternity? And that’s the name of the mother?”

Visitor: “No! Clearly that’s a man’s name. That’s the father of the baby!”

Me: “Oh, I see! Well, I need the name of the patient who is admitted, so that is the mother’s name.”

Visitor: “I don’t know her name. You should be able to look it up under his name!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but I can’t. We must be given the full name of the person actually admitted to the hospital before giving out any visitors wristbands.”

Visitor: “This is ridiculous! I don’t know the f****** b****’s name. She my son’s wife. I think it’s Brittany or something. Why is my son not listed? It’s his kid, too! Doesn’t he get paternal rights?!”

Me: “Well, ma’am, I don’t know anything about his rights; however, since this is a hospital the only people we admit are those who need medical care. Unless your son was the one who was in labor and pushed a baby out of his body, I suggest you call your son and ask the name of the woman who just gave birth to your grandchild.”

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