ER Doctors Divulge The Worst Shape They've Ever Seen A Patient Come Into The Hospital In
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*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.

With TV medical dramas like Grey's Anatomy, New Amsterdam, and Chicago Med, viewers may think they've seen all the possible worst-case scenarios of trauma taking place in the ER.

Some may venture further by declaring they've become numb to seeing all the gore.

But on a subconscious level, they may have forgotten what they're witnessing on TV is only pretend, and they'll never be prepared to stomach the horrors witnessed by actual medical professionals.


Curious to hear examples of these, Redditor NOBRAINRAZEMAIN asked:

"ER doctors what's the worst state a person has come in?"

These patients were self-sabotaging.

Ingesting Poison

"Up in Taos, a man ingested an entire container of aluminum phosphide tablets. A couple tablets are meant to be placed into prairie dog holes and then the moisture that accumulates inside the covered up hole triggers a toxic gas."

"The man was taken to the ER... where he was foaming from the mouth, deemed to be a toxic hazard for the entire hospital, moved to a tent outside, where he then died. I was not there, but my spouse was there. The image of what happened that day to that man and to those around him... is haunting."

"edit: typo, clarification about using two tablets at a time, while he ingested the whole container, undoing my typo edit thanks to u/Baud_Olofsson"

– stars537

Tampered Shunt

"EMT here, not a doc, but I've got one that sticks with me."

"New dialysis patient had just gotten his shunt implanted, wasn't comfortable with it, must have been fussing with it, and... it came out. For those that don't know, a dialysis shunt is connected to the brachial artery, just after the aorta, so that it can pump a high volume of blood into the dialysis machine to filter it. With the shunt ripped out though, the heart was basically just pumping blood straight out of the body."

"So by the time we get there this guy is laying next to his couch, just... empty. Pale, cool, he almost looked like wax. You would almost think Dracula had gotten to him, if not for the human body's worth of blood on the floor and walls around him. We tried CPR for the family's sake, but his heart had nothing to pump."

– Arke_19

Decapitation

"My cousin works in the ER; when we lived together, one day she come home telling me about a patient that tried to cut his own head off with a chainsaw."

"They had to sew his tongue onto the remaining tissue of his neck because otherwise it would have died off. Obviously he passed out from the pain before he could get to the vital parts of his neck but I still imagine this to be pretty gruesome."

– NotesForYou

The Job Is Not For The Squeamish

"Former ER security guard here. I've seen a lot, but a few memorable ones: 15-year-old who attempted suicide by sticking his head in a spinning lawnmower blade and basically scalped himself; motorcycle accidents involving not wearing a helmet medflighted in and missing a whole lotta skin; and one I still think about 17 years later - a teenage girl who coded while undergoing back alley cosmetic surgery whose dead body I pulled out of a car out front of the ED."

"The job is great if you're an adrenaline junky but also can be very sad. You need to be able to effectively cope with the stress it involves and not everyone can do that."

– loverofreeses

Horrible accidents resulted in the following:

The Unrestrained Passenger

"ER doc here. 26 year old girl, unrestrained passenger riding with a drunk driver. Her head went into the wind shield and popped the whole wind shield off the car. Her skull was filet'd open from the forehead up, brain completely exposed and falling out of her skull, largely intact but horribly swollen."

"Rest of her face and body was essentially unmarked. She was breathing on her own but not moving purposefully. She got intubated, taken to the operating room. I asked the neurosurgeon what the plan was, and he said 'I'm just gonna cut off the part that's sticking out.'"

"She had a partial lobotomy, skull was left open with the hope the swelling would go down. She was basically brain dead that night and died a week later. Driver was drunk but had a seat belt on. Walked out of the ER that night."

– cxc9001

Worst Way To Go

"Paramedic here. Grossest call? Guy fell down in a hoarder house. Wife was too embarrassed to ask for help. So she fed and 'cleaned him' on the floor. Patient laid on a dirty tile floor for 2 weeks. His right arm was so swollen and covered in maggets, the arm was as large as a leg."

"Removing parts of his clothes so much tissue was already breaking down all over his body. Black and oozing puss. Man spent his last week alive in a nightmare fever dream. I've had more graphic deaths of course but holy sh*t what a miserable way to die."

– Zackeros

What Not To Do In A Motorcycle Accident

"Intestines laying next to them in the stretcher. Don’t fall off a motorcycle and land on a guard rail. I guess technically people who arrive dead or in cardiac arrest are in worse shape, but this was the most visually terrible."

– sailphish

Not Driving Drunk Is For The Safety Of Others, Not Just Yourself

"My husband used to work in the ER and one of the saddest stories he’s ever told me was about a little girl and her mom getting hit by a drunk driver on their way to Disneyland. The little girl was unharmed and still wearing her Minnie Mouse headband but her mom didn’t make it. We both couldn’t stop crying and I still think about it from time to time."

– cassdmac

He Had No Idea

"My coworker said he used to work security at the hospital. Guy comes in saying he feels woozy, asks if they have a payphone. He goes over, puts the change in to make a call, and drops dead."

"Apparantly he got shot in the head by a stray bullet and didn't know."

– Crayonalyst

They may have survived but these patients endured harrowing ordeals.

Tractor Accident

"I once saw a four-year-old girl whose head was run over by her dad‘s tractor by accident. Her and her mother had went out to give him food during harvest after dark. He was ready to get started and they thought she was in the truck. Unfortunately ran over her head. She was still alive. Field trach tube. Just awful. Certain things you can’t un-see."

– Timmy24000

When The Scream Was The Worst

"My mom was an ER nurse and she said the worst case she ever had to deal with involved a kid whose parents had backed over them in the driveway. Apparently the toddler had the skin of their face completely pulled off where the tire had basically pinched it off of them. The kid survived, but my mom said she’ll never forget the screams of that child."

– Cheezler

Emaciated Man

"Not a doctor, a nurse. A mentally disabled man who was also blind and deaf who lived with relatives. Apparently he lived locked away in the basement and they would just bring him down bread and peanut butter and water to eat and that’s all he had eaten for over two years."

"The police were called when the neighbours saw an emaciated bearded old man crawling around the backyard naked and confused. Guy comes in, leg wounds full of maggots, covered in filth, lice in his hair and beard, emaciated and starving."

"I remember receiving him from the emergency department, trying to calm him down because he couldn’t see or hear and was mentally disabled. We washed him and cut his hair and deloused him. Do you know how people always complain about the hospital food? I have never seen a patient more appreciative of getting three square meals ever."

"We would signal to him by taking his hand gently and touching it to his mouth that dinner was in front of him and he would get a look on his face like it was the best thing that ever happened in his life. He always ate every last morsel, and we ended up ordering him double portions until he put on a good 40 pounds."

"He was with us for about three months awaiting placement. He went from 90 pounds to 130 pounds in that time. He was actually very sweet. It makes me sick that his family treated him like that. I’m not sure whatever happened to them but I know there was an investigation."

– Joygernaut

Slammed By A Vehicle

"Orthopaedic surgery resident. Spend a lot of time in the ED. The dude who was pushing his girlfriend's car off the freeway at night and got hit from behind may have been the worst I’ve seen recently. Was alive. Legs were annihilated."

– johnnyscans

A List

"if we don't count dead people... I've had a shot gun wound to the elbow, suicide with a corrosive liquid, hand stuck in meat grinder,..."

– Dr_HanibalLecter

The Animal Wrangler

"Eons ago during my residency, a guy came into the ER complaining of a venomous snake bite. He was also holding onto the very snake that bit him. The snake was still alive and the guy was holding the snake behind its head. He said he’d always been told to 'bring the animal that bit you' for testing. Good times in the rural south!"

– HumawormDoc

Not everyone can work in hospitals as it's not for the squeamish.

But we should be grateful for the fact there are many who aren't squeamish at the sight of blood for the sole reason they are there with the goal of saving someone's life.

Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear scrubs.

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If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

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