Doctors can only assist a patient to the extent that the person accepts the help. That acceptance is by no means automatic.

Often, a doctor's work is hindered by a patient's own closely held theory, which is unprofessional, not proven, and comes from God knows where.

Reddit's doctors have no shortage of horror stories in this regard. They shared the most concerning examples of a time when the patient waited way too long to seek medical attention, or disregarded it completely when they finally did.

It's a thread that throws serious doubt over home remedies and, more importantly, shows the perils of that self-deception which a health crisis can often provoke.

cinnamon_woods asked, "Doctors of Reddit, what's the worst case of patient ignorance you've come across?"


"Doc here. I had a patient come in with tumors in many parts of his body. I'm not an oncologist - he came to me for an unrelated issue. But his shirt was bloody in several areas where the tumors had ulcerated through the skin."

"Judging by his chart, all his other docs had tried to get him to get biopsies done and see a specialist and he always adamantly declined."

"His reasoning was that he believed an electrical device was the cure for his cancer and that the entire medical community was completely wrong."

"He had a manual for this electrical device with color coded tabs and he practically had the thing memorized and was trying to convince me that it says xyz here, which indicated it may be able to help with his condition."

"I tried, like all those before me, and failed."

-- olunarorbit

Cleaning a Wound IS Something You Can Do at Home

"Corpsman here . Had a Marine come in to clinic on Monday for abrasions to the hands on Friday. His hands were dirty AF which begged me to ask if he had washed his hands since at all to clean the wound."

"MARINE: I thought that was your job."

"The wound was gross and starting healing over the dirt and grime. Ended up debriding the wound which is very painful and basically tears the old dirty skin away to clean the wound."

-- wizard4life

The Profound Capacity for Self-Delusion

"I worked for an optometrist and a patient came in for a routine eye exam. When she checked in, the left half of her cheek/eye was covered under a loose band-aid. Under the band-aid, her face was completely eaten by cancer."

"I could see the flesh hanging from her cheek bone it was so deep. I looked at her chart shortly after and this had been going on for years with the doctor's note, 'Still waiting for God to heal cancer.' "

"The oddest part of it all was she would only try on designer frames from the optical and insisted she wanted high end frames. Lady, no one is going to be looking at those frames."

-- SucculentOwl

Gonna Need More Than Lotion

"Not a doctor, but a paramedic. Had a lady call 911 for foot pain. Got there, this lady had advanced gangrene to both feet to the point that they were turning black and had that unmistakable smell of gangrene."

"She told me that she had some cuts on her feet and had been applying lotion (like jurgens type lotion, not antibacterial stuff) to her feet and then had been putting slippers on them.

"She was honestly shocked when I told her that she could lose her feet and possibly her life. The smell was so strong that I could smell it when I entered the house."

-- Flamethrower75

Clinging to Hope

"I had a sad one happen to me. I saw a patient with very advanced colon cancer, who was convinced that she was misdiagnosed. She had gone to multiple doctors who told her she had cancer, using blood test results, imaging, and biopsies to back them up, but she was sure that we were all missing something."

"She had brought in a copy of her official pathology report with the results of her biopsy. She was so excited, 'look doctor, they told me it was cancer, but I've been through this report over and over, and it doesn't say cancer anywhere!' "

"The whole report had 'carcinoma' plastered throughout it (medical lingo for malignant cancer)."

-- OwlBeRightThere

Tough to Square That Circle

"Just yesterday I got a call for chest pains. Show up on scene and the dude meets us at the ambulance. Hops in and we start assessing him and his chest tightness."

" 'Sir do you have an past cardiac history?' "

" 'No I don't think so.' "

"I lift up shirt so we can do a 12 lead and see a scar from a CABG--'Sir are you sure you don't have any cardiac history? What's this scar from?' "

" 'Oh I'm not sure my wife might know though.' "

-- jesus-christ-of-ems

A Politically Charged Ignorance 

"Anything anti vaccine. Real talk, parents who don't get their kids vaccinated should be charged for murder should their kids fall victim to the disease."

"Yes, you can refuse the vaccine, but children should have the right to common vaccines, Hep A and B, Polio, tetanus, etc. Nothing crazy fancy, but a select few vaccines which we know will keep them somewhat safe."

'If their kid gets the disease and is treated, parents are fined or serve community service, and the children are educated and allowed to make their own vaccination choice."


Here's to That Losing Popularity

"Pediatrician here. Once working in the ER I was brought a septic 6 days old newborn. He had a weird stinky thing over his umbilical cord."

"The mother said it was a popular remedy to make the umbilical cord fall faster. It was made from horse manure, spider webs and some plant."

"I lost that baby."

-- Wicz69

Even Drinking Water Can Be an Impasse

"Pregnancy woman is admitted for severe dehydration. My mom is her nurse and apparently their first interaction was something like..."

"Mom: the Dr. said you're very dehydrated and we need you to drink at least x amount of water before you leave."

"Patient: I don't drink water."

"Mom: your baby is becoming stressed and you should try to drink as much as you can for your baby."

"Patient: I hate water. I only drink soda."

"Rest of the day she basically refused to drink any water no matter what anyone else said to her."

-- aislyng99

A Wild Pain Tolerance

"Saw a guy came in with a R hemisphere stroke. Completely paralyzed on his left side. Symptoms started 2 days ago."

"I asked him why he waited so long. He said he thought he slept on it funny so wanted to wait a day. Unfortunate too. He had a big clot in his r mca artery."

"Probably could've fixed it if he had shown up earlier."

-- Goseki

Healthiest Meal of the Day

"Not a doctor but when I was at university my Chinese teacher who was about 60 at the time said she is retiring early because she got diabetes and also said she was shocked to learn that eating 5 eggs at breakfast is unhealthy."

-- WestAussieInJapan

Wildly Obedient

"I'm not a doctor but somebody who is a doctor told me that one time a guy was sick, so they told him to drink lots of fluids, but the guy really went to town and drank gallons a day. He didn't die, but it apparently wasn't great."

-- --------idk-------

A Couple Lessons to Live By


  1. "sex causes babies, yes anal counts. (Horrible one due to religious lack of sex ed, and a low enough IQ that consent to sex was a very grey area)"
  2. "If one of your balls is the size of a large grapefruit, please go to hospital. This had been going on for a year."

Don't Go Willy Nilly with the Herbs, People

"(Third world country here) Once a child was brought to the ER because of sleepyness, and vague response. The mother gave the kid in a normal basis herb tees. It was hard to determine the cause, but people really don´t think that herbs could cause harm."

"Herbs are a very important cause of liver failure... And in kids its way more toxic/potent. Watch what you drink/eat. Everything is a potential poison, even oxygen and water!"

-- Wazabie

Gotta Cut Corners Somewhere

"Years ago we had a patient come into the ER for a broken arm, she was treated and received a full arm cast. She was given a date to come back to remove the cast. The week she was due back she came by ambulance for a partially amputated arm..."

"...her boyfriend had decided that since they didn't have insurance he would take off her cast with some kind of electric saw, he almost took off her whole arm."

-- MiMisViews

Doctor's Orders

"Not a doctor, but I went out to eat with my friend who had just seen a nutritionist for her diabetes. She told me the nutritionist told her to eat more vegetables, so my friend ordered fried pickles."

"No, I did not try to set her straight because I knew it would lead to a fight."

-- chenliiin

Missing the Point

"A patient newly diagnosed as a diabetic was instructed how to use insulin by nursing staff before being discharged to home. The nurse showed them their insulin vials and injector, using an orange as a pin cushion so to speak, in order to demonstrate how to inject the insulin."

"The patient returned to the emergency department several days later, very sick, with diabetic keto acidosis, a life-threatening complication of poorly controlled blood sugar."

"They told the emergency staff that they don't understand why they got sick because they've been injecting and eating oranges every day just like they were shown."

-- Mohrisbetr

Attention All Males--Be Nipple Mindful

"First patient I saw as a medical student presented to the ER because, as he put it, 'my nipple fell off.' Very nonchalant."

"Turns out he'd been watching his left breast get bigger over a period of months until the underlying tumor finally eroded through the skin causing said nipple to 'fall off.' "

"Male breast cancer is more common than most people realize."

-- SloTriMan

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