Doctors Break Down The Worst Thing They've Diagnosed That Another Doctor Missed
Image by Angelo Esslinger from Pixabay

One of the golden rules of life? Doctors are merely human. They don't know everything and they make mistakes. That is why you always want to get another opinion. Things are constantly missed. That doesn't mean docs don't know what they're doing, they just aren't infallible. So make sure to ask questions, lots of them.

Redditor u/Gorgon_the_Dragon wanted to hear from doctors about why it is imperative we always get second and maybe third opinions by asking... Doctors of Reddit, what was the worse thing you've seen for a patient that another Doctor overlooked?

I can't tell you how many times I've sat back and chose not to speak up when medical professionals just started rambling. How dare I speak up. What do I know? I flunked chemistry and got through Geometry with a "D". But a few times there were issues left not discussed and there were problems. Just listen up to some alarming experiences.

Grandma Wins

Old Lady Wine GIF by MattielGiphy

Not a doctor, but my grandmother saved my father's eyesight because she didn't listen to their doctor.

As a child, my father had really large eyes, too large. My grandmother was concerned, but the doctor kept brushing it off as normal. That anxiety-ridden woman got her herself and my infant father on a train to SF to get to an eye specialist, against all others advice. My dad was diagnosed with primary congenital* glaucoma and his eyesight was saved. Go grandma!


The Mummy Appendage

When I was a resident, an 80yo female was admitted from the nursing home for confusion. Workup showed some mild UTI and we were giving her antibiotics. The nurse mentioned that her toe looked dark and asked me to look at it. The toe wasn't just dark, it was mummified. It looked like dry beef jerky. I touched it and pieces flaked off. So the patient from a nursing home, had a mummified toe, probably for months, that no one knew about.


The CT Save

Here's my story:

A guy came in to our ICU and was very septic but still talking. He had visited his primary care MD with complaints of a sore throat for a couple of days. Dismissed without any intervention since he didn't appear to have strep throat or the flu. At this point he was having pretty severe abdominal discomfort, so we sent him for a CT scan. As the scan was finishing, he coded and had to be intubated, multi-organ failure, etc.

The CT scan was horrible - he had all kinds of stuff all over his peritoneal cavity.

His wife told us that he had choked on an ice cube the day before he saw his primary care MD. Evidently he swallowed a whole double half-moon shaped ice cube that perforated his esophagus with a HUGE linear 4.25 inch tear, allowing a significant portion of his swallowed food and drinks to get in to his peritoneal cavity instead of his stomach.

To make things worse, he had some reflux that allowed stomach acid to get in there as well (likely while he was sleeping).

Once we realized what was going on, he went for extensive washout and exploratory surgeries to repair the damage to his esophagus and other organs. Thankfully, he made a full recovery, but he was very close to not making it.



When I was an ER nurse we got an elderly lady in for altered mental status from a nursing home, when we undressed her to put her in a gown and hook her up to the monitor, I noticed no less than 5 fentanyl patches on her, guess I discovered the cause of the AMS.


Use your Words

Communication GIF by memecandyGiphy

Neurologist sent patient to our ED without informing her that imaging showed a glioblastoma assuring her impending death. He didn't overlook the disease, he overlooked the communication.


Lord healthcare is a minefield. If you want to keep living, survival requires communication, and if you can't do it... get an advocate. Clearly I'm not the only one going through this miasma. Wait until to hear the rest...

Mad Cow Realty

During my residency we had this lady in her 60s who was getting progressively more forgetful, just overall declining and getting less and less able to take care of herself. She had been seeing her pcp who diagnosed her with dementia. And she saw a neurologist who agreed. She was not really able to provide an accurate history.

After talking to her family and friends it became apparent that her symptoms were progressing unusually quickly. I remember seeing the point where her new hair growth met her bright red dye and also her grown out nails with hot pink polish thinking, wow, it really wasn't too long ago that she was not only taking care of herself but like, going to get her hair and nails done. The lady in front of me was so far from that.

The neurologist I was training with recognized this, had her admitted and did every test including lumbar puncture. Workup eventually showed Creutzfeld Jakob disease ("mad cow") which there is unfortunately no treatment for. She died a few months later but at least we were able to prepare her family that she would only continue to decline so they could make arrangements. Really sad situation.


After Birth...

I used to work in maternal-fetal medicine, and every single week, we would have women referred to us "because the doctor couldn't see something clearly with the baby and wanted to double check." Nope, they just didn't want to have to be the ones to tell you that your baby had a complex cardiac defect or multiple anomalies indicative of a genetic syndrome or any other of a large number of horrible things that can happen during fetal development. Still pisses me off when I think about how many women waited weeks for more information because their doctors were cowards who couldn't tell them, "There's something seriously wrong here."

"I can't see it quite clearly," didn't sound serious, so the appointment wasn't made with any urgency, and now you're 24 weeks pregnant with a fetus that will not survive infancy, and have no options but to carry to term and hope for a quick and painless death shortly after birth.


bad doctors

I'm not a doctor, but a RN. This happened to me, but isn't nearly as bad as most of the stories on here.

When I was in college, I got to where I couldn't swallow. It started with difficulty swallowing, progressed to me having to swallow bites of food multiple times/regurgitating it, and then got to where all I could swallow was broths and mashed potatoes with no chunks. I went to the doctor multiple times, and was told every time it was acid reflux and part of my anxiety disorder.

I lost 30 pounds (was only 120 when this started) and was just generally miserable.

Finally my grandma was tired of watching me be sick all the time, so she called the GI doctor herself. They said we needed a referral, but she explained the situation and they got me in the next day. Did an endoscopy and my esophagus was 95% occluded at the gastroesophageal sphincter.

For some reason, some of my primary doctors notes ended up in my discharge paperwork (I guess they had to contact her to get my information) and she had told them it was acid reflux and basically I was being over dramatic. She stated she did not recommend them to do the procedure.

Needless to say, I switched doctors. Awful. Was not a fun year.


The Valve...

He put the pacemaker lead in the subclavian artery (and across the aortic valve into the left ventricle). The proper approach is: subclavian vein to right ventricle). And then he didn't notice it for over a year. I saw the patient (a 25 yo woman who didn't need the pacemaker in the first place) when she was in congestive heart failure.

The pacemaker lead had destroyed the valve! A surgeon and I had to do surgery to remove the pacemaker and lead. Then replace the aortic valve! Totally inexcusable. Well, 50% of doctors are below average, but everybody thinks theirs is in the top 10%.



Rattlesnake bite. On a 2 year old. Patient and dad out in the fields near a small town that is several hours away from the nearest big city, where I work.

Dad takes the child to the ER in the small town with an obvious snake bite, doctor there says "eh it's ok she probably didn't get envenomated." Doesn't give the patient antivenin, which they had at that hospital, and instead of electing to send the child to us by helicopter, he sent her by ambulance. Several hours later patient shows up to our hospital coding, and ended up dying.

Probably didn't get envenomated?!? What the hell kind of stupid fool idea is that. If a tiny child gets bitten by a rattlesnake, you assume they've been envenomated and you treat them as though that had been. That means antivenin, physiological support, etc. completely absurd.


So what have we learned? Medicine is a collaborative effort. We don't have to know everything, but we have to be vocal. More than one opinion = saving lives. More often than not... YOURS!


Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.

People Describe How They Survived Near Death Experiences
Mick Haupt/Reddit

As morbid as it is, death is the inevitable yin to life's yang.

The inevitable end of our mortality looms ahead for all of us, but hopefully it's not for a long time.

That doesn't mean there are close calls along the way.

Not everyone is fortunate, but there are the lucky few who somehow managed to cheat death and lived to talk about their close calls.

Keep reading...Show less
People Divulge The Least Fun Facts They Know
Photo by Ben Garratt on Unsplash

A "fun fact" refers to a piece of information that might not be widely known.

Though, the "fun" in "fun fact" is often widely debatable.

Indeed, more often than not, people find or are told a "fun fact" about anything from an animal species to a famous celebrity which might make them want to cry or even throw up.

Keep reading...Show less
Professionals Confess Industry Secrets From Their Chosen Field
Photo by Lee Thomas on Unsplash

We've all heard some conspiracy theories about certain businesses, most of which are outrageously false.

That laundromats are simply a facade for shadier practices (including, not so ironically, money laundering) or that the Coca-Cola company invented "New Coke" with the express purpose of improving sales on original Coke.

But every now and then, we can't help but wonder what really goes on behind closed doors in certain professions.

And are eager to hear all the juicy tidbits from people working in that industry.

Keep reading...Show less

Finding a healthy work/life balance is extremely difficult.

Depending on their jobs, some people are barely home in time to spend any quality time with their loved ones, and weekends are hardly relaxing, as they are often devoted to chores and errands.

These are only a few reasons many people have pushed to adopt four day work weeks.

And while there seem to be multiple advantages to one's mental health and self-esteem, could eliminating 8 hours of work possibly have any downsides to it?

Keep reading...Show less