Patients Share The Worst Misdiagnoses They've Ever Gotten From Doctors
Most doctors will tell you, they're overworked, expected to save lives on little-to-no sleep, and what they do is hard. Like really hard - but they do it because they love it. Note: we said most. Sometimes, a medical professional pops onto our radar that makes us wonder how they graduated medical school or why they decided to be a doctor in the first place. That usually happens when there's been a terrible misdiagnosis. Not every misdiagnosis comes at the hands of a shady doc, some are just plain old mistakes. All are scary.
One Reddit user wanted to know:
The answers ranged from funny, to terrifying, to infuriating and pretty much everything in between. Some of these mistakes cost lives. Some just cost money. We put together some of the ones that made us say "Wow" and are sharing them here with you. You ready to be wow-ed? And not in a good way? Of course you are. Click next.
Wrong Ovary, Wrong Diagnosis
I'd suspected that I had endometriosis for over a decade but to really diagnose that you have to have surgery. Last year I had an ovarian cystectomy and opted for diagnostic laparoscopy as well. When I came out of surgery three separate doctors told me I did not have endometriosis, including my surgeon. When I went in for my post op a month later, I asked again, and she said "no sign of endometriosis!" I also asked which side the cyst they removed was on - my ultrasound diagnosed right but they removed the left.
When my surgeon rechecked her notes she kind of went silent - she had been explaining that ovary placement is kind of weird and not definite like in diagrams. Turns out I do have endometriosis, and she even made notes on it during surgery. She's not my doctor anymore.
Not me, but my grandmother. She was diagnosed with blood clots, so they put her on blood thinners. Come to find out she was actually bleeding internally. The thinners were making it worse. They unfortunately couldn't save her from that point, but almost everyone got to say goodbye.
Definitely Maybe Diabetes Probably
Type 1 diabetes.
I was 14 years old and terrified. They literally drew one vial of blood, called us in the middle of the night and said I needed to immediately get it redone the next day. We drive in and they can't find basic things needed to draw blood (needles, test tubes, etc.) When they finally find a butterfly and a tube, they stick me 11 times (I could clearly see where my veins were, and this was the only time a medical profession has been unable to get it on the first try.) Then they basically told me I had diabetes and would have to inject myself every day for the rest of my life, and that I would never be able to do x, y and z (I remember being told I couldn't ever join the military.) Then they told my parents to find an endocrinologist to manage my "diabetes." They call that night and say my blood sugar is very high.
We go to the endocrinologist, get more blood drawn. This time they actually get it first try. They draw something like 10 vials, ask me a bunch of questions, and I respond to every single one with "no," because I didn't actually have any symptoms of diabetes. She says, huh, I think you're fine, and says that my labs weren't actually that abnormal before. The following week, we get a call from her. My labs were fine and she has no idea what the other doctors were talking about, and I am not diabetic.
So I'm super confused on how this could have happened, so I ask my parents for a copy of the labs from the first time. I google what a normal blood sugar level is, and it says the average person has 70-105 while fasting.
My blood sugar level was 106.
I still have no idea wtf happened. Did they mix up the samples and give me a false positive somehow? Were they just weirdly alarmed by my level of 106? Why the hell would they straight-up tell me that I definitely have this disease before confirming anything?! Super shady medical practices. And it wasn't even the first time they've misdiagnosed- once my sister went in with a very infected cut and they told her to ice it without doing anything. It was leaking fluid and it smelled. We had to see another doctor. I was 11 at the time and I knew something was wrong with it!
We switched doctors pretty quickly after that, because it was less "strike 3" and more "strike 47."
Friend of my fathers was told he had stage 4 lung cancer and would be dead within a week. Turns out the doctor made a mistake and it was just a spot on the X-Ray
ADHD. Try taking Adderall in high doses every day for 3 years without having ADHD and see what happens.
Hint: psych ward
One Less Excel Report Should Fix It
I was going through this thing (29y/o lady at the time) where my heart would stop beating for about 8 seconds at a time. That might not sound horrific. But it would happen very randomly. It happened once while I was in the middle of a lecture for a community college course I was teaching. I conked out mid-sentence. Also I had to stop driving because I never knew when the 8 second "timeout" would hit me. The doctors chalked my random fainting up to stress. They told me to go home, take it easy. And to try to relax more. As if sudden unexplained fainting is attributable to having to do an extra Excel report. And, let me rant for a moment: Mayo Clinic has the attitude that if they can't tell you what's wrong with you, then there IS nothing wrong with you.
Turns out, my heart wasn't producing the amount of electricity it needed. I wasn't stressed. I needed a pacemaker.
Fell out of a tree. Rushed to the ER, and they couldn't read the scans because of the swelling, so they put a temporary cast on it and had me come back to their sports orthopedic a week later. Pain was excruciating. When I went back to the doctor, he brought up the old x-rays and declared it a grade four sprain, and wanted me walking on it within a month.
Throughout the next year, I went back to the same doctor multiple times complaining of weakness, pain, tingling, you name it. Got sent to PT so many times they finally called the office and told them not to send me there anymore, as something was "not right". They recommended an MRI. The doctor told me to my face he wouldn't be prescribing me one because I was a "whiny teenager" who "only knew how to complain". Pissed my mom right off and she took me elsewhere.
Turns out I had broken my ankle (the impact from the tibia had basically dug a crater in the talus). Because it had gone undiagnosed for so long, much of the bone in my talus was dead, and there were numerous bone fragments drifting around in my ankle. Ended up having surgery to drill holes in the damaged bone so a new layer could grow over that area, and to clean out the mess. Eight weeks on crutches, and months of PT followed.
Ankle still gives me problems, 10 years later.
This One Has Us Truly Baffled
Actual issue: arthritis
That's A Huge Revision
Went to the ER for a persistent sore throat, hoping to get a strep test. Young doc asks if I've been coughing. Sure, a little. Does your chest hurt? Um, maybe a bit from the coughing.
Diagnosis: heart attack.
Now I've got an IV, EKG, the works. Ten minutes later, the supervising doc comes over to see what's going on. Asks me a few questions.
Revised diagnosis: you have a cold.
Summer going into 4th grade I was misdiagnosed by 4 different pediatricians, the last one said I had "schoolitis." I had meningitis, was delirious when I was admitted to the hospital, and had to miss a month of school
Not Anorexic, Just Broken
Was told by the doctor that I should have my head checked by a psychiatrist because he thought I was anorexic. Turned out having a broken chest bone sticking straight into my stomach and diaphragm. It made me unable to do anything and definitely made eating a problem.
I'd just had a laproscopy earlier in the day. That evening I had horrible abdominal pain. Like screaming, can't move pain. So I go to the ER where I'm told it's just gas- in spite of the fact that the maximum allowed dosage of morphine didn't touch the pain. I've had laproscopy before and would describe the gas pains as uncomfortable. Not this.
They tell me to go home and walk it off.
Three days later I can't keep anything down. Can't poop. Can't fart or burp.
It turns out I had a laceration in my intestine and was septic. I'd lost blood and my organs were shutting down from the infection.
I needed emergency bowel resection surgery. I spent a week in the ICU, four days of which I was in a coma. Then I spent the better part of a month in the hospital.
I almost died. I still am having serious complications from it today, over a year later and am looking at more surgery to fix things.
But you know, it was gas and I'm actually a big wuss.
Almost Missed His First Child's Birth
I was recently on a business trip in Jakarta, Indonesia. Shortly after arriving my face swelled up and my entire body erupted in bright red hives.
I went to the doctor who informed me that I had contracted a rare virus that is spread by mosquitos. I would have to be in quarantine and unable to leave the hospital for at least a couple of weeks. BTW I was supposed to fly home to the US the next morning where my 9 month pregnant wife was at the brink of giving birth.
Upon telling him about my pregnant wife, he informed me that I would not be able to safely be near her while she was pregnant or nursing, or near my newborn daughter for at least a couple of months. I was crushed at this news, I wouldn't be able to be there during my wife's labor, and I wouldn't be able to meet my first child for months.
They took a blood draw to test something as they were preparing treatment, and it turns out I just had an allergic reaction to something I ate. They gave me some benadryl, I flew home the next day, and I'm sitting here bottle feeding my little one month old daughter right now.
Child Protective Services
When I was 14, during a routine check-up my doctor had me weighed. And then he brought out a chart and, without factoring in my height (I'm very, very short and always have been) he told me that I was GROSSLY UNDERWEIGHT for my age group. Threatened to call Child Protective Services unless we went to see a pediatrician.
For the record, I wasn't super skinny or anything either. I had the normal amount of teenage pudge, no bones sticking out or any signs of being underweight. Totally average for my HEIGHT. And surprise surprise, the pediatrician said the same, and nothing came of it.
This was the same doctor who dismissed every single one of my physical complaints as anxiety.... and then did nothing to actually treat said anxiety... except cause more of it, obviously.
"They Dismissed Me As A Girl Making Noise About A Bad Period"
Not one, but multiple doctors almost let me bleed to death. I went to this party and thought I got my period, the next day I was really tired so I napped and didn't think much of it. Woke up to insane pain in my stomach and I felt a sort of 'snap' and suddenly I could more or less fill the toilet bowl with blood. Presented to the hospital and was sent home three times before they realised I was having a very early stage ectopic pregnancy and my Fallopian tube had ruptured.
Had emergency surgery.
Worst thing was my blood work from my first admission showed I was bleeding somewhere and they dismissed me as a girl making noise about a bad period.
Not Cancer After All
My internal medicine specialists told me I had leukemia. I would need extensive and expensive medical treatment. I didn't believe them and started over. My new dermatologist told me (correctly) that I had scabies. Ten dollar bottle of Kwell from the drugstore solved the problem.
A psychiatrist diagnosed me as bipolar 1 in high school, and put me on all kinds of different anti depressants, mood stabilizers, anti psychotics, sleeping medication, anxiety medication, etc. I was worse off medicated than I was normally, which didn't add up. I ended up stopping all medications and getting a second opinion. After I started exercising and I got a part time job, my mood and confidence lifted dramatically and I turned out fine.
A few years ago the guy was caught prescribing opiates to everyone who walked into his office in exchange for commission from pharma companies. He was shamed in the local news and lost his practice, but was never seriously punished.
About a year ago I woke up one morning with what I assumed to be a bad case of heartburn. As the day went on my symptoms started to get a little more serious (shortness of breath, chest tightness, extremely painful to sit up straight). I'm not a fan of going to the doctor but my girlfriend convinced me to let her take me to an urgent care. On the way there I started to get nauseous and my vision was going black. I assumed this was just me be extremely anxious and had nothing to do with what may or may not have been wrong with me.
We get to the urgent care and at this point I couldn't even get out of the front seat so my girlfriend went to go get a wheelchair from inside. We get inside and waited about 15 minutes to be seen by the doctor. Doctor walks in the room and does the usual evaluation (temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, etc.) but was only able to get a reading on my temperature. She didn't seem too alarmed by this so neither did I, since she's the one with "Dr." in front of her name. She decides I need a chest x-ray so we go back to the x-ray room where she puts one of those lead shields over my shoulders. I was in so much pain at this point my legs were shaking from holding the weight on this shield on my shoulders. Still no sign of concern from the doctor. Get back to the examination room and about 5 minutes later she comes in to tell me they won't have the official x-ray report from the radiologist until the following day BUT she looked at them and everything is normal. She ended up diagnosing me with Acid Reflux, writes me a script for Prilosec and sends me on my way.
About an hour after we got home, I'm laying in bed resting and my phone starts ringing nonstop. Its the doctor I just saw and she's telling me the official report came back from the radiologist, my left lung is filled with fluid and I need to go to the emergency room ASAP. Great, my girlfriend is at the grocery store and there's no way in hell I can drive. I end up calling 911 to request an ambulance, they were at our apartment in less than 10 minutes. This is when I discovered how nosy our neighbors are lol. They get me loaded up in the ambulance and ask me what hospital I want to go to, I'm assuming they asked this because the closet one is a county hospital and is absolute shit. I tell them Memorial Herman which was only 15 minutes or so away. I blacked out (aka basically died) on the way there and woke up in the trauma room with a metal rod sticking out of my side and blood LITERALLY everywhere. Turns out I had a collapsed lung and my heart had been pushed to the middle of my chest (the ER doctor said it was the most impressive pneumothorax he'd seen in his career).
Two weeks, two surgeries and $190,000 later, I had my lungs working again and got to go home.
"You'll need serious, intensive medical intervention if you ever wish to conceive a child."
Gets pregnant naturally
"Wow! What a miracle! Love this baby, hold him tight he will be your only one!"
Gets pregnant again. Is not pleased.
"What!? This is one for the journals! Can you believe this? You must be over the moon, enjoy your miracle babies. Your family is complete."
Baby number 3... oh for f*cks sake. Snip him already!