Doctors Admit The Most Dangerous DIY Treatments They've Ever Seen Patients Try
Emergency rooms are a locale of terror and sadness. Patients forced to check in under emergency situations can lead to doctor's best stories. Tales of life-saving brilliance and ingenious solutions to troubling diagnoses. Sometimes, however, there's times when patients decided they wanted all the glory, attempting to cure themselves with misguided homemade remedies.
Spoiler: They're all awful.
Reddit user, r/Shandrith, got all the horrific details when they asked:
Medical professionals of Reddit, what is the craziest DIY treatment you've seen a patient attempt?
When Life Gives You Lemons...
Paramedic here. Once had to explain to a family that putting lemon juice in the eyes of an unconscious patient isn't an approved treatment method.
And no, it didn't work. (It was an interesting moment when I had to explain why his eyes hurt)
I had a guy come in for coughing and shortness of breath for the past few months. His lungs sounded like absolute sh*t. Got a chest xray that looked horrible, so I did a CT scan. Radiologist called it the worst case of necrotizing pneumonia he'd ever seen. Dude had like a 15% functional lung tissue left. The patient then mentioned things had been worse after he started using a new "breath freshener" spray....
He whipped out one of those concentrated air freshener bottles, supposed to cover up weed smell. Labeled Not For Internal Use. Apparently he had been using it like Binaca spray, and had already gone through 3 bottles.
Super Glue Fixes Everything
I work in dental and years ago had a patient attempt to super glue her front tooth back on after it broke in half.
She screwed up and ended up gluing the chunk to her upper lip.
Maybe Put The Cap Back On...
This happened when I was still a med student doing a rotation in the ED. Patient comes in and is pretty vague about his actual complaint, something about head pain but he looks just fine sitting waiting to be seen.
When I finally get to see him and ask him what actually happened, he removes the hat he was wearing and a chunk of skin about the size of my hand literally flaps off of his skull. This guy managed to basically scalp himself, and apparently it had been like that for 3 days. According to him it was caused by falling in his bathroom and hitting his head on the toilet. He had been previously duct taping it down or using the hat to hold the skin on, but it wasn't sticking well and that's when his wife convinced him to come to the hospital.
Puff It Out
Adult patient had gas and poked a hole in his belly button with basically a knitting needle to release it.
Edit: it didn't work, he actually came in for the ensuing infection in his belly button.
Dogs Are Worthless
An old lady told me the rain hurt her arthritis. That's reasonable.
She also swore that dog spit had healing properties so she let her dogs lick her feet when she felt it coming on. She then wanted to show me a video of said dogs licking said feet.
I swiftly and politely declined.
All Good Stories Start With, "Get The Fish Hook"
A fifty year old man swallowed a chicken bone while eating, and it got stuck down his throat (upper oesophagus). Unable to take it out with his fingers or coughing, he got a fisher hook with a line and tried to rescue the bone with it.
He ended in an emergency department with both the bone and the hook in his oesophagus.
What Doesn't Kill You, Makes You Sicker
We had a guy come in with an abscess on his right thumb. When I asked him what happened to his hand, he told me about his recent deep sea fishing trip and was given the responsibility of cutting the fish with an open wound in his hand. A sliver of fish got in there and became infected as it healed, so this guy gets the bright idea of doing a little DIY wound drainage by grabbing his pocket knife and cutting it open, leading to a greater infection.
Betrayed By Vick's
My mom once melted Vick's Vapor Rub into my tea because she thought that would help my cold.
Super Man Potion
One of my first clinic patients was a dude who was injecting a mixture of testosterone, "human growth hormone," sesame oil, and sunflower oil into the base of his penis as a DIY penile enlargement therapy.
Well, it got infected so he ended up going to the ED for incision and drainage. I saw him as a post-ED visit and at that time, he figured that he shouldn't be injecting into his penis while it was healing. So instead, he was injecting his oil + sketchy hormones off the internet concoction everywhere else into his body (arms, legs, butt, shoulders, etc) because he figured it would still have some effect.
Making It Worse
As a child I got really bad sunburn.
The person looking after me coated my sunburn in baby oil to help it heal, and sent me back out into the sun.
I realised when I was older why my mum went nuts.
A man who'd accidentally sliced his leg open at his workplace. He obviously figured that as surgeons use staples to close wounds, he'd cut out the trip to hospital and DIY. With an ordinary desk stapler. Arrived in ED with a pus filled wound with the odd discoloured staple hanging off it some days later.
Somehow I Can Do Science Faster
Anesthesiologist here; we had a patient come in for I&D of bilateral deltoid abscesses. He apparently had thoughts of being a body builder, but instead of lifting weights or knowing someone who could hook him up with some quality steroids, he decided to bulk up by using some protein powder at GNC...
...and mixing it with water, drawing it up into a syringe, and injecting 20-40cc daily directly into the muscle. If bulk was what he was going for, it definitely worked, temporarily. A rip-roaring localized infection makes you look plenty swole. They got almost a liter of pus mixed with liquified protein powder out of each deltoid.
This also wasn't the first time he'd been in for this problem.
In No Way Is White Bread Good For You
White bread soaked in milk placed on an armpit abscess to draw out the infection. Needed an I&D and a couple weeks of IV antibiotics by the time he got to us.
Either that or the guy who crashed his motorbike, scraped his leg all to hell, and then decided the best course of action was to self-cauterize it on the tailpipe.
Building Up Pain Tolerance
Dental student here.
We had a patient who declined a much needed cleaning saying he could do it just as well a home with a scalpel. Didn't brush his teeth but every few weeks he would go at the accumulated plaque and tartar with a scalpel.
Same patient also insisted we do a procedure without local anesthetic. He was an amateur boxer and was « building up his pain tolerance.
Take The Hint
Had a patient come into the ER with a makeshift bandage on his shin. He had fallen on rocks while hiking and left a three inch long, half inch deep gash in his leg. I go to pull the bandage off and as I'm peeling it away I notice the skin is completely black and there's dark chunks of fungus falling out of the wound. It looked necrotic, like it had been left alone for a week. I look at this guy like he's crazy as he tells me the wound is only a few hours old. He's pretty proud as he explains that he created a makeshift poultice by chewing up leaves and moss, mixing it with river mud and stuffing it into his leg. That's what all the black mossy stuff was.
Hint. Don't do this.
Seriously, Go To The Doctor
I work in the er at a trauma center. This guy comes in with his little girl and says that she was bit in the face by the family German shepherd. I immediately take her back assuming that I need to control bleeding. What I encounter is a little girl with a laceration going all the way from over her left eye crossing her nose and mouth. It is not bleeding whatsoever and it seems to have a odd looking substance inside. So I obviously ask the dad what she got inside it.
He responds very proudly with, " Ah yes, I packed the wound with tobacco from my cigarettes and super glue. "
My dad had an abscess on his face. It was huge, about the size of a golf ball and horribly red. It kept getting bigger. My mom (a nurse) kept telling him to go to the doctor, but my dad was a ridiculous cheap ass.
One day when she was gone, we noticed that a big white head had formed on the abscess, and it was apparently ready to bust. My dad went out to the garage, got his shop vac, placed it over the white head, and proceeded to suck out the abscess. It worked surprisingly well and healed up after that nicely.
Mom was still furious, though.
Don't Trust Sommers
I work in oncology pharmacy. I had a patient die of totally treatable breast cancer because they decided to treat it with mistletoe instead of chemo. All because Suzanne Sommers did. Yeah. The thighmaster lady. Don't take medical advice from the thighmaster lady.
Patient came into the pharmacy and asked if they could use a plastic bag secured with a rubber band instead of condoms