When most people think about a patient lying, they assume it's because they're looking for drugs - but doctors will tell you that's not always accurate.
People will fake illnesses for all sorts of reasons, and it's not always easy to tell when it's happening. That doesn't mean doctors can't tell, though.
Reddit user JawaanTaylor asked :
Seriously - people come up with some of the absolute BEST methods of faking it. Interestingly, a few people chimed in with moments doctors thought they were faking, but they weren't. So here's what we learned, if nothing else. Guys - you can NOT fake a seizure. Even if you pee on yourself. Just don't try.
Seizures Are Hard To Fake
Patient came in with "seizures", non specific weakness, light-headedness, and numbness/tingling in her hands and feet. She gets admitted because of some electrolyte issues (not related to the neuro symptoms, these were corrected later and symptoms persisted). Sure enough on the second day she "seizes". As soon as the diazepam is pushed (before the flush is even in) she stops seizing.
This happens again 3 hours later. The third time while she was seizing we took her hand and tried to drop it on her face twice. Both times she moved her hand out of the way so it wouldn't smack herself in the face. We just stood there until she got tired of shaking. It took about 5 minutes. She left AMA a few hours later.
Claimed she had seizures. Then she got on the ground, started rolling back and forth shouting "LA LA LA" at the top of her lungs. Legitimately thought she fooled people.
Had a patient start seizing in front of the cops after they were pulled over for possible drunk driving. We get there and patient is still on and off seizing. We get them on the stretcher and in the back of the ambulance, surprisingly the cop joins us. As I take their arm, the shakes start up again, so I tell them, "yo if you want this medication, I need you to stop so I can start and iv real quick..." patient stops to let me start the line, and once I say I'm done, they start back up.
A women was "having a seizure" when the attending looked at the other doctors and said "she's faking." The women stopped mid-seizure, glared, said "no i'm not you f*cking b*tch" the continuing her seizure.
"High Up On The Lifeguard Chair"Giphy
Funniest story of my medical school career. We were rounding on the wards for a teenage son whose parents were in the room.
Dad: "Uhh, we saw our son tested positive for marijuana, this is clearly incorrect."
Attending: "There are some false positives but the test is pretty accurate."
Dad: "My son is a life guard, he would never smoke."
Son: "Yeah, I've never ever smoked" (looking scared AF)
Attending: "We can order a more sensitive test that will give a more accurate answer"
Son: "WELL..... I do sit really high up on the lifeguard chair and I think some of the kids around the pool smoke, so maybe I breathed in some of the smoke while working."
Team: Frantically ends conversation to leave the room and laugh hysterically.
They're Not Always Faking
My mother was an ER doctor, and her favorite story about an "obviously lying" patient ended up with a total plot twist.
Scruffy guy, mid-50s, comes in looking for nonspecific help. Confused, smelly, dressed in ragged mismatched thrift store suit -- clearly homeless and just looking for a bed or a fix, right? Keeps muttering something about quantum, obviously a little off his rocker.
Mom decides, might as well give him a workup and use the case to teach the residents. Turns out the guy's in near-total renal failure, so they give him dialysis.
Snaps to. Suddenly coherent. Suddenly sane. Suddenly talking about real actual quantum physics.
Turns out he's a math professor. Some organ problem sent him into a mental tailspin on his way to a conference a month earlier. In his confused state he got off the train in wrong city and had been wandering the streets ever since, missing and presumed dead.
They're not always faking.
Had a pt fake a ruptured ectopic pregnancy to get narcotics. Says she was diagnosed with an ectopic at another hospital and given medication to end it. Came in to our hospital in extreme abdominal pain, rolling around, yelling, had vaginal bleeding, the whole nine yards. Gave her a bunch of pain medication so we could get an ultrasound. Ultrasound showed nothing. Urine pregnancy test showed nothing. Beta HCG was 0..... Turns out she was conveniently on her period which made the whole thing very convincing.
Got records from the other hospital, patient had been there yesterday but was not pregnant for them, nor was she diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy. Definitely was a "wow she just made up this entire thing"
We had a lovely conversation about all the results. She ended up screaming at me, threatening to sue me for all I'm worth and stormed out. Jokes on her I'm worth -$200K of student loan debt.
I'm an EMT.
I had a woman that claimed she couldn't get up after a fall in her house. We arrived to her entire house being locked, so we called through a window that was cracked to see if there was any other way inside besides breaking through her screen.
She proceeds to stand up, go to the front door, unlock the door, walk back to where she was and lay back down. We did a generic checkup and there was clearly nothing wrong.
When she said she didn't want to go to the hospital and we were about to leave, she stopped us and asked us to call Comcast for her since we "are the EMS and are a higher priority."
Not a doctor, but I am a patient who lied. Before my sobriety I did some "doctor shopping."
After that got hip I'd have to go around to urgent cares and stuff. I ended up "needing" something badly so went to my GP. I've been going to him for YEARS. Like since I was 18.
I told him I was sober and had tooth pain and back pain and other pains and had tried everything. Against what he was supposed to do he looked me dead in the eyes and said "both of us know what you're saying right now is complete horsesh*t."
Turns out my doctor was in AA. I ended up leaving after crying for 30 minutes. Got sober within the next 6 months. He goes to my home group and is still my doctor.
"Non-Organic Hearing Loss"
Had a patient come in for a hearing test; young guy in his mid twenties which is already unusual. Main issue is that he's getting noise complaints about his music. Huh.
No issues with his ears physically, so I do the hearing test - basically ends up with a profound hearing loss. Weird because that's basically sign-language territory there.
I walk behind him and ask him what his plans are for the evening, to which he responds appropriately.
Definitely what we call a "non-organic hearing loss". He was trying to get the results he wanted to justify being a d!ck of a neighbor.
A Scrambled Mess
3 year old having tonsil surgery, I run through my usual pre-op evaluation, history, and physical. Parents ensure that she hasn't had anything to eat or drink since the night before. Get her back to the OR, drift her off to sleep, and when I go to place the breathing tube, she vomits basically solid/completely undigested scrambled eggs and aspirates.
Surgery is canceled, we take her to the ICU. Parents obviously fed her breakfast less right before they came in. Confront the parents and they basically say they thought we were just being too mean not letting her eat for 8 hours. There is a reason we ask you not to eat for a period of time before surgery. It is not because we just like being d!cks. Listen to us, please.
The Explosive Injury
I was getting the rundown on a patient once and the nurse said something about back pain and C4. Okay, he has some injury to his neck and it hurts. Nothing special.
Then I talked to the guy and nope.
He claimed someone had wired the explosive C4 into his back and:
1. It hurt.
2. He was afraid it would explode.
He wasn't a psych case. I don't know why he thought lying about explosives in his spine would be more believable than saying he was moving a couch or something, but whatever.
I had a patient who was pretending to suddenly be paralyzed. Very dramatic, on the floor, saying she couldn't feel anything below her neck. After assessing her, we had her stand and get on to the stretcher. Which she did without difficulty. Despite being "totally paralyzed".
In the ambulance, she told me how she "sometimes goes code blue". And how if she "goes code blue", I must NOT rub her chest or cause her pain. The best way to revive her was to turn the lights low, and talk softly and soothingly to her. She told me all about how she "went code blue" in the hospital over a dozen times last time she was admitted, and how the doctors were so scared they almost couldn't revive her.
During transport, I asked her for her birth date. Her eyes fluttered shut and she didn't respond. We drove in silence for several minutes (while I worked on documenting the very detailed and unrealistic history/story she had been telling me).
Eventually her eyes fluttered open and her hand went to her chest. She says "oh! I think I went code blue there for a minute!"
I replied "nope! No worries, you didn't! You're totally fine and your vitals were pristine! You don't have to worry, you're safe! So what's your birth date?"
She looked super annoyed.
"No. I don't smoke!"
"OK, the results should be back within the next 10 minutes, please hang out in the waiting room"
"Can I go out for a smoke?"
My aunt and my uncle are both nurses and worked in the emergency room.
Apparently, a lot of people "accidentally" fall on things and get those things stuck in the butt.
We had an inmate in the hospital who had a warning posted on his chart. He would go in the bathroom and come back out claiming to have vomited (I think? Maybe it was diarrhea) large amounts of blood. After a while someone found an empty, bloody syringe in his sock. He had been drawing blood from his central line to fake a bleed. So much for all our efforts to keep the central line clean.
Not a doctor, but I was being diagnosed with what ended up being bronchitis, and the dude across from us was trying to convince his doctor that he still has excessive back pain. The dude was able to sit through reception just fine, walk with the doctor, but the second he sat down he starts complaining.
"Ah, yeah it really doesn't feel any better"
Etc etc. the doctor starts lazily talking to him and after some X-rays the doctor says nothings wrong with him and that he can transfer him to a more specialized doctor
Well, that would cost him more money, so instead of taking the high road he starts trying to convince the doctor he's hurt.
After about five minutes the dude "collapses"
"AH, AH DOC MY BACKS SPAZZING HELP! I TOLD YOU I NEED MEDICINE!"
(At this point it was blatantly obvious this dude was just flailing on the floor in an attempt to get Percocet)
The doctor starts to laugh, and the man kinda just slowly stops and starts going off on him.
"Dude, get the f*ck out of my office"
the patient went f*cking berserk
He starts walking with the doctor, cussing him out and jumping around him like he's trying to latch onto his forehead.
The doctor calls security, they take him away screaming.
Corrections Officer here.
I spend a lot of time in ER's with inmates, so I've seen some pretty crazy stuff...but the best "he's totally faking it" story was from a guy who fell down the stairs in a cell block and said he couldn't feel his legs. I take him up to the hospital and the doctor is going through all sorts of tests. Guy says he can't feel anything. So finally, as the doctor is standing at the foot of the bed he gives me a sly wink and then proceeds to quickly jab this dude's foot with a long metal needle. The inmate screams, pulls both his legs back towards him and starts swearing at the doctor.
Cool as a cucumber, the doctor then says "Hallelujah! I'll get started on your discharge paperwork so you can get him back to the jail." The whole time I couldn't stop laughing!
I shadowed a sleep doctor who had this pretty fake patient one time.
She came in for restless leg syndrome which seems quite legitimate. Then the doctor started to question her and she kept bringing up all of these symptoms she had that clearly were not tied to RLS. She was talking about things like arm pain and chest pain and snoring.She not only started manufacturing new symptoms but suddenly when the doctor asked about the old ones again she was incredibly inconsistent in recalling them. Finally, the doctor asked one more time, "Why are you here? and she couldn't answer him.
Everyone Was On To Me
This thread is mortifying to read... as a teenager I frequently faked "fits" I have no idea why just one of those attention seeking idiot things. Always thought I was convincing. This has made it abundantly clear that everyone was on to me.
I'm a labor and delivery nurse. A young woman, early 20s, came to our main hospital's ED with her Mom complaining of stomach cramping. That is when she learned she was 9 months pregnant and in labor. Got sent over to the women's hospital, L&D. This young woman continually denied ever having sex - oral, vaginal or otherwise. Even after delivery she claimed it was immaculate conception. Very, very weird vibes from both her and her Mom.
We asked questions like: "Have you ever woken up and not remembered the night before?" and "Have you ever drank so much that you don't remember what happened?" because we were worried about her having been raped or assaulted. But she said she has never drank or done drugs.
It seemed like a young woman who was sexually active but didn't want her Mom to know. But her being college-aged, it seemed weird to be embarrassed about that.