Image by Sammy-Williams from Pixabay

When it comes to the life of a patient, precision is one key factor of utmost importance.

So when a surgery goes south, "it happens" is never a viable excuse.

Not everything that goes wrong while in the OR, however, is not always the operator's fault.

But patients and family members would be unlikely to blame unexpected failure solely on fate.

Wanting to know about the perspective of surgeons, Redditor Neotoric asked:

"Surgeons of Reddit, what was the biggest mistake you made while operating on a patient?"

"The Reality Of Being A Surgeon"

"Actual surgeon's take: Got into the wrong intermuscular plane during the initial approach to an anterior based hip replacement and damaged the patient's femoral nerve. They have permanent paralysis of their quad as a result."

"The reason this thread is mostly full of joke answers and third-party retellings is that mistakes like this can be hard to talk about, even behind an anonymous throwaway account.

Every time you put on the gown and gloves, there is a small, needling part of the back of your mind reminding you that there's a real chance you may be about to ruin someone's life. It may not be this time, it may not happen in any of the 12 other surgeries you have scheduled this week, or the 50 this month, or the 50 next month, or the 50 the following month... Major, life-altering mistakes are extremely rare, but with enough time and a big enough sample size, rare things happen all the time."

"That's the reality of being a surgeon. People put their life and well-being in your hands and at some point you are going to betray that trust and hurt someone. It is going to happen. There is no amount of preparation or care that can prevent it - if you chose this life, you have chosen a life where at some point you are going to lie sleepless in bed at night wondering, 'I wonder how Mr./Mrs. X would be doing now if they'd never had the misfortune of meeting me?'"


A Patient's Perspective

"From the patient side, that is so spot on. I had a surgery and the only issue was a post op complication in which I felt abandoned. It was not life threatening, but it was difficult. I never blamed my surgeon, but his demeanor changed some after so perhaps he blamed himself. I should send him a card thanking him for what he has given me."


The Double Mastectomy

"Not a surgeon but I am a histotech (we work in the pathology lab where all the specimens are sent)."

"A surgeon did a double mastectomy based off a different hospital systems pathology report. Basically the report said she had the kind of breast cancer where both breasts need to be removed."

"But we found zero cancer in either breast."

"He was sh**ting bricks so we submitted both breasts IN THEIR ENTIRETY... That's a ton of blocks and it's unheard of to submit all the tissue like this but he needed to find cancer."

"I've never seen a surgeon stand there and watch the pathologist like this guy did. He was cussing up a storm the whole time and screaming about 'this is why I never take outside pathology reports!'"

"Turns out the other lab had mislabeled her specimen so some other lady got the all clear who had cancer and she lost both breasts when she didn't. All around horrible situation and the surgeon was sick over it all."


Wrong Knee

"Med student here, I was watching a knee operation when the surgeon suddenly stopped, looked towards the staff absolutely shocked and asks 'this is the wrong knee, isn't it?'"

"Basically he was told to operate the wrong knee and halway trough he realized it was too 'good looking' to be the knee that needed the operation. Luckily there was no permanent damage done, the team reknit everything together and rescheduled the surgery."


"Not a surgeon, but I had a screw put in to hold together a fracture in my wrist. At the last moment before surgery, the anaesthetist told me I could have the surgery with a local rather than general anaesthetic as planned. So I let her make the call for me to be awake."

"During the drilling my surgeon started complaining at length of why he hates the drill he's using and how it's inferior to the other type or brand. It was apparently the only one he could find at the time and he didn't want to reschedule."

Screw It

"Once the screw is in, the surgeon says to close up. Someone asked if the screw should protrude as much as it was, to which he responded 'no, but we can get away with it, and you never want to take a screw out and put another in as you essentially wear the thread of the bone '. Then silence for about 10 seconds while I feel them shifting wrist around followed by 'actually we better put a smaller screw in.'"

"When I was in recovery the surgeon was suprised how quickly I woke up and had a slight look of suprise when I told him I was only under local. Next thing he said was 'surgery went well..."'


Cheap Glasses

"Not the surgeon, and I'm sure not even sort of his biggest 'mistake', but this was one of the more bizarre things I've witnessed in an OR. Surgeon brought a bad pair of glasses."

"So here we are, total hip replacement. Surgeon is going to town with what I lovingly call the human grater, which is a doohickey to make sure the new hip socket will fit in. Picture a cheese grater wrapped around a golf ball on the end of a power drill. It's not pleasant."

"Anyway. Dude's grinding away at the feller's hip and sudden yelps in surprise and stops, backing quickly away from the table."

"We're all like, the f*k?"

"His glasses spontaneously broke in half. They were the type that didn't have rims, just lenses with a bar across the nose and bars for the ears. So the metal crossing the nose snapped at the screw."

"Surgeon quickly starts stripping off his gown, etc., (had the full face shield get-up, ortho ORs are... splashy) and leaves the room. Comes back with a roll of tape. Him and the circulating nurse can't get them fixed, so he just holds them to his face and has her run the tape around his head a few times."

"Then suits up again and goes back to acting like nothing happened."

"All-in-all added like 10 minutes to surgery time, at least that I could catch directly. Hadn't been with that surgeon before, but I can't imagine that was his best performance afterward. Seeing as how his glasses were taped across his eyes at weird angles."

"But yeah, don't buy $5 readers for the OR."



Veterinarian here. We do quite a few surgeries so I hope this counts a real response.

"Mistakes" likely happen all the time. From nicked blood vessels to skin/organ tears. Most are probably fairly minor.

In the veterinary world, I've certainly heard stories of male animals having an abdominal incision during a neuter since someone thought it was a female for a spay.

Wrong limbs can be amputated. Surgical instruments and sponges/gauze can be "forgotten" in patients. There are many pre- and intra- surgical checklists to help prevent these and I am sure it is even more developed in human medicine.

Fortunately for me, the biggest surgical mistake is probably a suture slipping when removing an organ resulting in minor internal bleeding....fairly easy to find the bleeder and get things stopped rather quickly. Or having a small bone break when repairing another fracture. Things happen. We address it and learn from it for all future patients.


Basic math

My mother's surgeon: "Well, not doing basic math correctly and sewing up a woman having spine surgery with 2 sponges still inside of her."

My mom was 20+ years sober so she refused most of the pain meds. When they had to confess they f--ked up, she had a mental breakdown facing all that pain again.

She got a lawyer and they settled ASAP, about $50K. Mom thought that was fair, but my godfather is a retired federal prosecutor and said it would have been $100K easy with another attorney.



When I was in school I had an instructor who took a job as VP of patient care at a big American hospital. She said there was a patient who had been on the unit for a year and the hospital was footing the bill. When they told her why it was just about the worst thing I've heard:

He was in for a brain surgery and they had removed the a large section of his skull to access the brain. Then they dropped it on the floor.

They tried to clean it up and they apparently gave him lots of post op antibiotics, but he inevitably developed encephalitis or meningitis or well probably infection of the whole head.

Not necessarily the surgeon who dropped it...


Image by tookapic from Pixabay

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But, for fun, let's chat about the idea.

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Luke van Zyl/Unsplash

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Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay

They say one man's trash is another man's treasure - and sometimes that saying is pretty literal.

Lots of people build entire businesses picking up cool stuff on bulk-pickup trash day, and upcycling it into something even better that people are willing to pay for.

Sometimes, you might even end up with something pristine and usable right away.

Reddit user JampackedAlborn1976 asked:

What is the most valuable item that you have seen somebody throw away or have found in the garbage?

And for real ... some of these people scored BIG TIME. Like big time. Like really big.

Like Refrigerator Big

just ask leslie jones GIF by Saturday Night Live Giphy

"Our current refrigerator is a double-door one with exterior ice and water dispensers. We got it for free, with absolutely no problems whatsoever. It's just a few years old."

"How we got it? My dad (civil engineer) was doing some work on someone's apartment when they said they had bought a new modern French door refrigerator and that they were just going to discard their current refrigerator."

"My dad simply asked if he could have it.. and they said yes." - SauloJr

Immigrants In Action

Dog Brazil GIF Giphy

"I immigrated to the US from Brazil when I was 12. And every Saturday, my mom, stepdad, sister and I would go out at night to upper middle class neighborhoods the day before trash pickup to rummage through the garbage they were putting out."

"We found perfectly good TVs, VCRs, microwaves, couches, lazy boys, tables, books and comics, etc."

"I couldn't believe these Americans were throwing out like that. We furnished our entire house with that stuff. The entire Brazilian immigrant community in my town did it. We were flabbergasted." - PhillipLlerenas

With A Note

Television Bunny GIF Giphy

"My wife yelled at me that someone put a big TV outside with a note on it. Walked across the street and it was a brand new Samsung 37 inch HDTV."

"They were actually renovating the apartment building and got an upgraded TV. Even had the remote taped to it with batteries, I guess I have really nice neighbors here in NYC." - MadLintElf

Life Hack!

studying busy philipps GIF by Drunk History Giphy

"If you want high end stuff out of the garbage for free, follow these steps:"

"Pick a city with a large university in it. If it's a school well known for its law programs, or medical, or engineering, all the better."

"Search for luxury apartment complexes that market themselves towards students. Look for things like included shuttle service, pools, fitness centers, etc. The more expensive and swanky the better."

"Figure out when finals week is at the end of Spring semester."

"Dumpster dive at those luxury apartment complexes during that week and the following weekend."

"Very wealthy international students will arrive in the US, fully outfit an apartment with nice furniture, big TVs, audio systems, gaming consoles, you name it, and when the semester ends they just junk it all because they aren't going to fly it back to wherever, and it's too much effort to spend the time selling when they do not care about the money."

"It's a smaller scale phenomenon a little like all the luxury cars abandoned at the airport in Dubai." - whattothewhonow

Literal Gold Treasure

valley of the boom david kim stanley GIF by National Geographic Channel Giphy

"I found a gold coin at goodwill for 5 bucks. It was in a case with someone's name and company name."

"It was their gift from the company for retiring. I assume the family threw it out when he died not knowing it was solid gold. It was in a in a thick solid plastic case that had to be cracked opened."

"It literally said 1 oz fine gold on it. I figured 5 bucks was worth the risk it not being real."

"It was a South African KRUGERRAND 1 oz coin. Everyone was just too busy to read it lol."

"Bought it and took it too a pawn shop and sold it for a couple grand." - streetmitch

The Best Day Of My Life

Will Smith Wow GIF by 1LIVE Giphy

"When I was a kid, I grew up right outside the Los Angeles area in the suburbs. My stepdad was a garbage truck driver for the city of Beverly Hills."

"I swear in the late 80s and early 90s we'd have so much basically brand new stuff (still in boxes) brought home on a regular basis."

"I'll never forget one day in particular. My stepdad came home and was like 'get ready, come to the car, I'll need your help.' So I go down there and in back seat of his car he had a few large black garbage bags."

"We haul them up to our apartment and he's like 'go ahead, open them.' Inside was what I could only describe as an 80s kids trove of treasures."

"One bag contained just about every Ghostbusters and GI joe toy you can imagine, they were played with but had every little accessory, there was a bunch the playsets and everything."

"In the other bag was pretty much every LEGO of the early 80s sets, still in their original boxes. I was a big LEGO nerd but was totally thrown off by the old school space ones because they looked nothing like the 90s space sets. I think they even said "NASA" the minifig's chests."

"That was like a random day in July, it felt like Christmas. I was 9 years old and it was basically like the best day of my life up to that point." - Zombgief

Who Throws Away Money?

spongebob squarepants money GIF Giphy

"A jar full of quarters."

"Annual spring cleaning projects happen in a lot of towns where anyone can put almost anything on the curb and it's taken away for free. It's to stop open dumping or stuff being dumped in ditches."

"Sometimes people deal with estates from winter by just dumping all their grandfather's stuff on the curb for the cleanup to get the house empty immediately. Most often they don't even bother to look at what they are throwing away."

"In 2012 on north road in Akwesasne I found an estate pile that I shuttled back and forth with my bike trailer getting lots of older tools like a scythe, hammers, saws, screwdrivers and wrenches, a 22 rifle with 100 round of ammo, a bunch of ar15 magazines, cast iron cookware, oil lamps, a hand crank food mill with all kinds of accessories, a black raven axe head (worth $100 easily since they are a collectable), and a quart size mason jar full of change mostly quarters."

"That was spring and the sheriffs office did a gun buyback in the fall where I took the mags and got $20 each for them (30 round mags suddenly illegal under the safe act of fall 2012. The buyback was a local political move). I still got the 22 and picked off a lot of woodchuck with it in my gardens." - Bogtrotterso1980

Filing Fever

Files Workload GIF Giphy

"I own a small company which is located directly in front of a state funded program facility. The state decided to have this office shred all of their files as they were going to switch to electronic data (exclusively)."

"We found two of these old rotary filing cabinets outside of their office. They're worth almost $3k each!"

"They just placed them there and we saw them and asked what they planned on doing with them. They said, 'Hmmm.....either donate them or trash them.' The state told them simply to get rid of them."

"We jumped at this and took the two into our already tiny office because there was no way in hell that we were going to let these gems go. (We do use paper files, unfortunately)."

"They wanted to give us two smaller ones but seriously, our office is very small. I made some phone calls and they were picked up immediately by other office workers/friends." - GlitzBlitz

This Sucks - In A Good Way!

mrs doubtfire vacuum GIF Giphy

"In the 1990s my moms work had a really nice high end Hoover that stopped working. They threw it out."

"My mom took it home because my dad tinkers and repairs things easily. Turns out since it was a bagged vacuum all the dummies had to do is REPLACE THE BAG."

"Like it never occurred to them to do the most easy and basic step. My parents were excited to have a really upgraded vacuum. Maybe like $500ish." - schweddyboobs

Tiffany's Trash

Audrey Hepburn Movie GIF by The Good Films Giphy

"My dad found an old stained glass window laying out by someone's trash. He thought it would look cool hanging in our cabin, so he stopped and grabbed it."

"It sat in our garage for a few years before he looked at it more closely and found "Tiffany and Co." branding on it. He got in touch with some stained glass window dude who figured it was worth about $40k fully restored, so my dad sold it to him for somewhere around $30k." - throwaway_stopdrink

Have you had any awesomely trashtastic treasures? Let us know!