Medical Professionals Reveal What Happened When Patients Ignored Their Advice

I have a fancy degree for a reason!

If you're not going to listen to the doctors and nurses and staff in general then why bother going to seek medical assistance at all? If you're just going to do your own thing you might as well not waste their time and your own. Plus do you know what one simple visit to the doctor costs these days? It's like ten dollars for every syllable they speak. It's infuriating for medical professionals seeing the same faces for the same reasons on repeat.

Redditor u/Guardian_Isis wanted to hear from medical staffers out there by asking.... Medical professionals of Reddit, what was a time where a patient ignored you and almost died because of it?

50. There is cheap and then there is.... CHEEEEEAAAPPPP!!!!


When I was in medical school had a gentleman in his late 60's come in for chest pain, found to have a large heart attack (very impressive STEMI in LAD by ekg). Refused emergent cardiac catheterization (go through the arteries and put a stent to open up the vessel of the heart) so he could bring his car home and planned on taking an ambulance back to the hospital. He was in the parking ramp and it cost $20/day to park.

Came back by ambulance in full arrest (no pulse) and died. Doc had to call his son and explain what happened, he was like "yah that sounds like dad, he's always been cheap."SivverGreenMan

49. But it's cancer Sir... 

Had a throat cancer patient, we offered him surgery to remove the tumor (it was a fairly conservative surgery) he left because he didn't want a mutilating surgery and his daughter in law had been studying magnet therapy and "she was quite good with it." (his words) He came back a year later, and was out of reach from any treatment, his cancer was so advanced that there was nothing we could do for him. Dutchess_md19

48. It's just a bump....

Had a patient stop taking his heart failure meds in favor of cocaine. alambbb

"Cause, y'know, cocaine makes the heart beat faster!"Guardian_Isis

47. Just fall off! 

I've read that the most common reason for a surgery to be re-performed is the patient not following doctor's orders during recovery.

Doctor says: "Don't ride your bicycle for six weeks."

Patient hears: "Don't ride your bicycle until you feel you can."Scrappy_Larue

46. 6 Weeks?!?!


One time at the VA after adult circumcision. "Do not have sex or masturbate for 6 weeks."

Decided to masturbate the next day. All stitches tore. wenkebach

45. Just Knock her out! 

My aunt had surgery to one eye, the recovery part was simple : stay on your tummy, head down, closed. She had to redo the surgery THREE times, she wouldn't listen.

When I asked my mother why she wouldn't listen to the Dr's advice she told me something along the lines of : oh she did listen but she got tired of being on her stomach, or, she wanted to be at the restaurant with us etc.

Some people just don't think rules applies to them, nothing will happen to them. MissFunkyH

44. But I'm Hypoglycemic! I swear!

Don't eat anything before surgery...

So often people will eat and try and justify it. Argue against everyone's expert opinion and then get extremely pissy.

"Oh my wife said I could eat before surgery, she doesn't want me going on an empty stomach"

"I'll heal better if I eat"

"I never thrown up, I'm good"

"I'm not going hungry, figure it out" MisterMetal

43. Sit Down Damn it! 

Please don't get up on your own! Then he gets up on own and pulls out line going into jugular that leads directly to the heart and proceeds to bleed all over everything until he pass out and almost dies. again. Account_No4

I had one that couldn't make any effort or get up, he did so and went to the bathroom and died because he refused to poop on his bed on a pan. Dutchess_md19

42. Double the fun! 

We had a college student come into the ER and had a wonderful case of appendicitis. He needed to get surgery ASAP as surgery is way easier and safer if done before it ruptures. He called his parents to let them know and they told him to refuse because he had a test upcoming in the week and they didn't want him to miss it. He left the ER Against Medical Advice while we were all telling him that if your appendicitis gets worse and ruptures it can definitely lead to death. The kid luckily comes back about 10 hours later after it ruptured, he gets the emergency surgery and the amount of time he got to spend in the hospital probably doubled. I_AM_A_BOOK

41. A Hex on your House!


My dad tells a story of a morbidly obese woman who came into his clinic and after an exam told her simply: "If you don't make drastic changes to your lifestyle and diet and start losing weight you are going to die." She was dead within the week. Her family tried to sue because my dad was clearly "a witch doctor" and cursed her to death. It was sad all around. Kyren11

40. The Walkers.... 

I am a nurse and I had a very polite and lovely patient trying to remove all manner of chest tubes and IVs after a motorcycle accident. He was obviously delirious from the pain meds and the head injury but very nice still. I left him in the care of my coworker for my lunch, ten mins into my lunch break I see him stagger past the break room door like something out of the Walking Dead, trailing blood everywhere, only to collapse out cold a couple of seconds later.

Said he needed the bathroom!! Idk how the hell he pulled his own chest tubes out. Removing them always makes me cringe let alone doing it to himself!!! He was put back to bed, this time in the ICU, and got some more sedation and even tho him ripping it all out set him back a couple of weeks he still discharged and came to say hi and thanks on the way out. The happiest delirious patient I ever had. What a bloody trooper. Haha whoorderedsquirrel

39. Don't play favorites.... 

Patient came in with syncope and general malaise. Found out she had a tiny patch of skin cancer on her ear - which she hadn't treated in over a year because she wanted to go to a different hospital to have it removed and just hadn't found the time. It metastasized to her brain (and I think other places). They gave her 5 months max. curlywirlygirly

38. Some parents are just.... nevermind!


We had a mom in the NICU who would constantly kiss her premature baby on the mouth. Several nurses educated her around why that's not safe for the baby, and thankfully documented their teachings. This was during cold and flu season, and became even more concerning when the mother was coming in with cold-like symptoms (coughing, sneezing and obvious congestion). She still continued to kiss the baby right on the mouth. The baby was almost ready to go home by this time, but got extremely sick. The baby ended up on a ventilator and had quite the extended stay with many, many close calls. pmbratt

37. 2 become 1....

Didn't die, but did lose an eye as a result. Young kid (20) with bad diabetic retinopathy from uncontrolled DM type 1, had eye surgery to remove blood and scar tissue from inside the eye. We told him to take it easy for a few weeks. He went to six flags. Rollercoasters are bad. Retina completely detached, eye got soft and painful, had to be removed. hbrumage

36. ADOPT!!

I'm a NICU nurse. In the 3 years I've been there, we've had at least 20 premies born to mothers who were specifically told not to get pregnant. Everyone thinks they're going to be the miracle exception.


35. Check in @ Dead! 

Patient came to see me having a stroke due to a blocked brain artery. I'd activated the Code Stroke team - everyone was ready in the theatre to get the clot out of her artery: nurses, anaesthesiologist, technician - but she (42) insisted on updating her Facebook status and "checking in" before allowing me to treat her. Wasted 3-5 minutes and 6-10 million brain cells (if she had that many to start with). Wenderov

34. Don't blame Luna! 

Animal hospital professional, at least once a week we have to re suture up a spay because the owners don't want to keep the cone on their dog/cat and let them tear up their surgical site. Their organs are right there!!! Keep the damn cone on!!! I don't care how "sad" Luna is with it on. Then they yell at me because it costs money to sedate and re suture an animal. 🤦♀️ chandeliercat

33. Oh Dear God!


Not a med professional, but my aunt is and I'd like to share her horrifying story. She once had a patient, young guy in his early 20's, who had very poor hygiene. Didn't shower regularly, didn't brush his teeth, wore the same clothes for days on end... etc. IIRC he one day came in with a nasty rash on his lower abdomen/pubic area that was starting to show signs of infection. She provided antibiotics and instruction and extensively stressed to him to improve hygiene and keep the area clean otherwise it'll just keep coming back or get worse.

Well, as the story goes, he didn't pick up the prescription and apparently choose to just keep putting A&D Gold ointment on the area. She later found out he ended up in the ER after going into shock at work, turns out he ended up getting gangrene in the area and it had spread to his penis and scrotum which had to be removed. TommyLeeJonesIsGay

32. So many chances.... 

Friend told me a slightly overweight homeless woman was shooting in her butt and the spot was necrotic. She came in with sepsis and somehow standing and talking with what he could only describe to me as near full body organ failure. They stabilize her, somehow she survives but is now missing half an a**. He said two years later she came back with her foot now rotting off from shooting in between her toes and on her ankle. Same condition, etc., just now the leg. They amputate and he says somehow she survives again...

Except two weeks later she is pushed back in on a wheel chair, drooling and nearly dead from overdose. Put in ICU. Son comes to visit her. At this point the hospital staff and my friend know her by name by the multiple visits. She hasn't seen her son in nearly a decade. He convinces her to promise to try to clean up for her grandchildren.

Less than 24 hours later she ODs, again, inside the hospital bathroom, somehow having snuck her kit in, nobody knows how. mistershoe88

31. Over the handlebars..... 

I worked in ER admissions throughout college. A teenager and his parents came in because he went over the handlebars on his bike. The staff wanted to keep him in observation overnight, but his parents refused, even after they offered to put him in a recovery room that was near the ER and normally only used during the day for outpatient surgeries.

They came back the next day, and he was white as a ghost. It turned out he had punctured some part of his digestive system and, I think, had some internal bleeding. It's the only true emergency surgery I saw in the four years I worked there when the staff actually ran to the OR with a patient. clemenni


30. Oh Ang.... we're in trouble now... 

Overheard in the ER I volunteer at:

*heated argument*

Dr: Sir, I'm telling you do not touch the knife. You could risk cutting an artery.

*patient shouts and apparently pulls out the knife.*

Dr: Damn it! Angie, get more gauze!

*Some incoherent shouting. I saw security walk by too. Patient shouts.*

Dr: Why did you put it back in?!

That's right. He removed the knife, bled, and in the shouting match, re-stabbed himself with the knife in the same spot it came out of. daemare

29. What's on the menu?


Patient was supposed to have starved for eight hours for her morning scheduled breast surgery. During the procedure she regurgitated what can only be described as as a full partially digested English breakfast, with identifiable sausages, egg, beans and possibly black pudding, up into her unprotected airway and attempted to inhale the lot.

Managed to prevent the majority of it going down, but she needed HDU care for a day or so for her lungs to recover from the stomach acid. VolatileAgent81

28. Keep the appointment.... 

Eye doctor here. I had a patient who came in and on evaluation I determined that her diabetes was out of control by the look of her retinas which required immediate intervention. I sent her straight to the retina specialist who then scheduled her for an OR. She decided that day not to go in because she had work and couldn't afford to take off. She was cleaning houses and the sprays made her sneeze, causing massive hemorrhaging In her eyes due to the weakened vascular state from the diabetes. She went immediately blind and got into emergency surgery that day.

It took months of recovery and injections to reverse some damage and she now (years later) has functional vision again. Her kidneys were also failing her and she had no idea. This kicked off a massive lifestyle change and a chain of doctors appointments that saved her life. All starting from an eye exam. OscarDivine

27. Let's Talk Diet....

EMT/paramedic student here. So we had a patient who was morbidly obese and couldn't get out of his house. He decides after about 4 days of uncontrolled chest pain to call it in. Well we get there and find evidence of several MIs but refuses care and wants us to leave. About 45 mins later we get a call from the building he lived in and we got there and it was him in full blown cardiac arrest. This man was so obese that we couldn't get him through the door and had to knockout a wall and lift him down off the second story with a lift. All the while me and my paramedic lead were bagging him through an ET tube. Lots of firsts on that call first ET tube I put in and first IO is ever seen done in the field. DaRunninMan

26. Face Down Cold. 

Patient on a centrimag. Basically a heart pump with hoses that draw blood from your heart into a pump next to the bed and brings the blood back to the heart thru a different hose. As you could imagine, there is little room for movement since they could dislodge and you'd have blood squirting inside your body or outside. This guy was adamant he had to sleep face down. Well he did, and then, he died. grovelmd

25. The Puffing Trach!


Had a guy who had to have a tracheostomy due to his excessive smoking. When asked in follow up, he revealed he was still smoking: THROUGH HIS TRACH. commodorecliche

24. A Horrible Disease.... 

Not a doctor, have worked in addictions field. Too many clients have died or will die because despite the repeated warnings from their doctor that they have almost no liver function or that what they're drinking is giving them all sorts of brain damage they continue to drink hard. But a lot of these guys feel like they have nothing to live for but the bottle. It's really heartbreaking. Lemonlimonlemon

23. I Reject YOU! 

Im on dialysis and one of the nurses told me about patients that after kidney transplants just will stop taking their anti-rejection meds after a few years because they think they don't need it anymore and it's really frustrating for them nurses because the patients just ruined a donor kidney. GooberM_47

22. Going Old School dumb! 

My grandpa is the patient.

"Come straight back if you have any chest pain."

He didn't go back and this is what followed:

Blood clot travelled to his brain.

Three strokes.

Bleeding on the brain.

Two more minor strokes.

Paralyzed left arm and right foot.

Broca's Aphasia.

He went from being a man nearing his 80's who was Old School. He worked as a school crossing guard, grew all of his own vegetables, fed the birds, built tables, biked six miles on the weekends, walked everywhere, and was still able to play darts despite his eyesight being that of a visually impaired gnat because he knew the board so well.

He went from that to living in a care home and unable to talk.

Has he lost his stubborness? Nope. He won't do his rehabilitation and so even though he could get his speech back to a decent degree, he doesn't want to do the therapy and using communication cards humiliates him, so we're left trying to decipher random eyebrow movements so we can guess what he's trying to say.

One of these days, I swear on my own bloody eyelashes, that I'm going to shake him until his teeth rattle. Him and his brothers. They're all the bloody same. My uncle, grandpa's younger brother, didn't go to hospital at all and was found on his bedroom floor, whimpering. Arlessa

21. Putting me back together...


Not a professional but a patient who got scared by their doctor. I had my 2nd c-section, my surgeon had to leave before I could be discharged so the other surgeon have me my discharge orders. He'd just come back from having to re-sew a woman's abdomen back together because she decided to stand up and pick up her 5 year old the day she left the hospital.

Well he let me know under no uncertain terms that I had better not pick up anything over 8lbs or stand up while holding anything or we'd have words. Man he was scary but he'd also had to push this women's guts back in and see her terrified child covered in his mom's blood. So anyway I did not pick up anything heavier then my child for two weeks until they said I could. He also told me husband all about not having sex and he shouldn't even talk to me about it for 3 months. The_Turtle_Moves_13

20. Refusing to Live.... 

Patient had vague abdominal symptoms, and I recommended a CT scan. He refused cause he was afraid of radiation. He also refused colonoscopy so all we could do was an ultrasound, which found nothing cause he was fat and abdominal ultrasound is a shitty examination anyway. A year later he was admitted again, and this time he couldn't refuse a CT - where we found a massive colon cancer. He's probably dead now. iodinepusher

19. Staying Still....

Had a patient signed out by another ER doc at shift change pending chest X-ray. CXR showed aortic dissection. This guy should've been dead already.

Being a small hospital (level 3 trauma center) in the middle of nowhere, we call the closest level 1 for a transfer. Ambulance shows up for transfer and the guy decides he's not going. He's got enemies in that city and they'll kill him.

After a standoff in the ER hallway involving security, police, EMTs, multiple docs, nurses, and a very scared scribe (me) the guy (a very large man) gets on board with the plan and decides not to leave AMA.

Later, we find out from EMTs he tried to jump out of the ambulance en route to the other hospital. Once he arrived, he left AMA. No clue what happened to him after but damn the dissection was INSANE. mcqlby

18. Circulate some sense... 

I wasn't there that day, but we had a patient who had been noncompliant with his leg pumps---these inflatable Velcro things that force blood to continue circulating so that clots don't form in the legs. He didn't want to wear them, and he had the right to refuse, so we couldn't force him. Lo and behold, when therapy finally got him up to walk the halls, he immediately keeled over from a massive heart attack. They coded him right there on the floor, and got him back, but he passed later that night. whoreofgralea

17. Coconut in the bag....


I had the snip and my doctor told me to take a week off, wear tight fitting underpants and not lift anything heavier than a cup of tea. I did exactly that and had no problems.

My best mate thought that was all nonsense and went back to fitting kitchens the day after his vasectomy.

And the day after that he was in hospital with a testicle the size of a coconut. Stooby2

16. Combat Medicine... 

Once I was the only doctor on duty in a rural village with diminished medical supplies. The village is called Shinafiyah and lies in the desert southern Iraq. A 4 years old child came to what was supposed to be an ER with diarrhea and some dehydration. They didn't have tab water and they drink from a near-by river (directly that is). From what I gathered it seemed that the child had cholera. Cholera has some unique reputation in medicine that I will skip here for the sake of your appetite. I strongly urged his father to keep him longer for observation but he refused.

A few hours later he came back and the child was very ill and severely dehydrated. He was -as we describe such case medically- drowsy.

He looked like a rotten wooden doll with the sunken eyes of an old man. I couldn't get an IV access (an accessible vein for fluids) and didn't have a central line set. I had to cannulate one of the large veins of his neck and he barely made it. Cholera wasn't endemic (not usually seen) there, so I had to make some calls and provide some samples to be tested about 200 miles away and send the child with an ambulance after he was stable.

The father and his son came back a couple of weeks later to visit. I gave him some chlorine tablets and cookies for the kids. mtx15

15. Stop Knocking! 

I was assistant manager of a group home. We had a resident who had epilepsy and was also very reclusive. He would get agitated if we came in his room or even knocked on the door. However, policy said he had to be checked on every 30 minutes because of his seizure risk. That wasn't being done so I brought this up to the manager.

She said she was aware but it was okay to bend the rules because he would get really upset when we checked in on him. I really wasn't comfortable with her answer but I was young and assumed she knew better than me. When I was on duty I checked on him every 30 minutes and he would yell at me, but I didn't let it bother me.

About six months later, after I had been reassigned to another group home, he had a seizure alone in his room and was found dead. A day later.

Now I'm older and a little smarter. When I find a problem like this I stick with it a don't let people talk me out of it. Not again. Rest in peace, D. Gone but not forgotten. notreallylucy

14. Oxygen go boom! 

Nurse/paramedic here. Frequently went to a patient's home for a shortness of breath call. She was always smoking while receiving supplemental oxygen, which is quite dangerous. I told her to stop doing it. A few weeks later, she burned her house down and nearly died of third degree facial burns after continuing to smoke while on oxygen. markko79

13. Hygiene is Key!


I was working on a general med/surg unit as a new nurse. An elderly diabetic patient ran over her second toe with the bedside table and the nail was ripped off. She was incredibly mean and didn't want anyone touching her or talking to her. I tried to explain the severity of her injury, especially because she was an uncontrolled diabetic and already had compromised circulation to her feet. She still refused to let me treat the wound. She also refused care from the physician. There was really nothing we could do more than a gentle cleansing with antibiotic ointment and sterile dressings which she eventually relented to. She was refusing everything and not demented or disoriented so we had to respect her wishes. She had overall poor hygiene and days later still refused more than just the bare minimum care.

She came back to the hospital about 2 months later with an amputated leg. That toe was gangrenous and everything below the knee had to go. The doc told her she likely would have been fine if she didn't refuse treatment.

After her amputation she again tried to refuse care. We did what we had to do and eventually she was discharged back to the nursing home she came from. She sabotaged her own healing several times by introducing infection to her wounds because of neglect and carelessness.

I saw her obituary in the newspaper a few weeks later. dairyqueenlatifah

12. Papa John's? It's not worth it! 

Had a patient who was NPO (not allowed to eat) because he had a bowel obstruction. He didn't like that we weren't feeding him, so, unbeknownst to the nurses, he called up Papa John's and ordered some garlic knots. He ate the entire box. Then, predictably, he vomited them up, aspirated his vomit, went into respiratory arrest, and coded. We did CPR and got him back. He had some underlying lung issues so we never could get him weaned off the ventilator. He spent a month in the ICU and was eventually discharged to a long-term care facility with a tracheostomy on the vent. cupcakewife

11. How does this pen work?

I'm not a medical professional, but I used to get allergy injections to build up my immune system because of the crazy amount of allergies I had. I would get these injections every week and I was instructed by my family doctor and the allergist to wait in the waiting room 30 minutes after the injection in case I received a reaction.


Well, one day I decided I didn't want to wait anymore (also because it had been a few months without a reaction) and left immediately after my appointment. I went into anaphylactic shock not even 10 minutes later. It was crazy because I didn't even know what was happening at first and didn't even know how to use an EpiPen. franksowner

10. Special K.

My wife is a labor and delivery nurse. When a baby is born they give it some vitamin that the baby can't produce itself for the first 6 months of its life (or something like that), i think its Vitamin K to help with blood clotting. its potentially lethal if the baby doesn't get this obviously as they can bleed out internally.

Welp, one mother didn't want their kid getting vitamin K cuz anti-vaxxer. Baby ended up dying in the NICU. No way to know if the lack of vitamin K contributed to the death or not but...i think most medical professionals would point to it being part of the reason the baby died. jbourne0129

9. Frequent Flyer Points....

Honestly, many of the patients I come across are admitted related to non-compliance with their medication regimen or suggested lifestyle changes. There are many "frequent flyers" that return with the same complaint over and over again. You can only educate them on their disease process, and how to minimize the effects of it. After that, it's up to them. As stated in almost every other comment, many of these people are diabetics or have COPD. The diabetics eat whatever they please, and the COPD patients continue to smoke their pack/day. Emo_Potart

8. The Temptation.... 

EMT here, worked an overdose of a 19yr old got him back with a bunch of Narcan at the beginning of our shift. We told him and his father the needed to get rid of whatever he was taking because it was most likely laced with fentanyl and would kill him if he did any more. Guess who we picked up for a OD later that same shift ¯\(ツ)/¯? Princess_Honey_Bunny

7. Seek a Meeting.... 

I am a psychotherapist who has worked extensively with addicts. Most of them don't take the advice to quit their substance of choice, but one particular case comes to mind with this question. Not only did I impress upon him how important it was for his to stop drinking, but so did his psychiatrist, and PCP. His PCP eventually fired him as a patient because he wouldn't listen. The guy was jaundiced, in liver failure, and looked like walking death. He lived longer than any of us expected him to, but he finally passed last year because of the damage he did from his heavy drinking. Liz_Bloodbathory

6. The O2 problem....


When I told a patient to stop smoking while he's using supplemental O2. He did not stop smoking. He died in a house fire after his O2 tank went boom. CallMeGrandDaddy-

5. F People! 

Was assured by a patient who underwent major head and neck cancer surgery that he had a safe home plus family help awaiting him after discharge. He'd need it, with new medicines and wound care. Was found unconscious in a shed with no electricity and no running water in — get this — his cousin's back yard.

More just really sad. Some people suck. flammenwerfer

4. It's a One a Day!


Like, every noncompliant hypertension patient.

It's gotten to the point where I have to explain it as "if there was a drug that you could take once a day that could erase your cancer risk, would you take it?"

People don't take that stuff seriously enough. Nagakabourouch

3. Eat to Live... 

Not a physician, but I'm part of a Facebook group that reviews most restaurants in the city.

Someone posted "I just had a heart attack, but the doctor said I'll be okay. I'm supposed to be on a low sodium diet, but I'm really craving a reuben. What's the best place for my wife to get one to sneak into the hospital for me?"BKS_ELITE

2. She's not ready.... 

I used to work in the mental health field on a hospital diversion unit. Teenage girl got admitted to my unit because she tried to end her life. As soon as she gets admitted, she starts convincing her parents to pull her out, since she can be discharged with parental permission. Against my advice, parents pull the girl out from the unit early. Within the next few weeks, she successfully completed suicide in a busy part of town. It was big story in the local papers, and that's how I found out. Nataliewassmart

1. The Ultimate PSA

Resident doctor here. During my coronary care rotation:

Me: "This heart attack was a warning. The most important thing for you to do, regardless of what medications we give you (which are also very important,) is to stop smoking. I know it's very difficult and we can help you quit."

Patient : "Yeah, I'm gonna think about it."

Comes back a few years later for another heart attack.

This happens on the regular. Sadly, unless a patient wants to quit smoking (and even when they do want to) it's such a difficult habit to quit that it often takes major consequences before people realize the dangers.

PSA it's much easier to never smoke than it is to quit. So DON'T START SMOKING! finepointbic


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