Break RoomScrubs

Definitely (?) true medical stories! – Part I


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Nurses know for a fact that truth is stranger than fiction. These stories are so good, you know they have to be true!

(But, um, we can’t totally vouch for them…)

1. Shake it up
A 28-year-old male was brought into the ER after an attempted suicide. The man had swallowed several nitroglycerin pills and a bottle of vodka. When asked about the bruises on his head and chest, he said that they were from ramming himself into the wall in an attempt to make the nitroglycerin explode.




Hemera | Thinkstock + Scrubs

2. Mystery wound
A 35-year-old male was transported to our Emergency Department by rescue unit from his doctor’s office.

The patient presented to his physician’s office complaining of decreased appetite, restlessness and confusion over the prior three days. The man stated that he had been working under the hood of his car and had leaned on the battery, causing an arc and sending him crashing to the ground, striking the back of his head.

The man returned home that day to his wife, telling her of the accident. The man’s wife noted an “abrasion” to the back of his skull and cleaned the wound. However, over the next three days, the man became increasingly confused, anorexic and, at times, agitated.

The man’s physician deemed it necessary to obtain a CT and further evaluation, and ordered transport of the patient to the ED. On the patient’s arrival, the ER physician ordered the CT of the brain, concluding that perhaps the patient had suffered a brain injury secondary to the reported mechanism of injury—falling and striking the back of his head. As the patient’s primary nurse, I went to fetch the patient from CT.

I asked the CT technician, who was noticeably worried, for a preliminary reading. “There is a bullet in his brain,” the technician said. Incredulous, I returned the patient to the ED with the news, and the definitive reading came minutes later: foreign body located between the hemispheres, likely a bullet.

Apparently, the man had not been arced by the battery, but had been shot in the back of the head with a 9mm handgun, and was not aware of this fact! The patient was admitted to ICU, but no surgery was performed—the neurosurgeon felt that the procedure was too risky.

He survived and was discharged (curiously, in police custody) 10 days later.


3. Feel the burn
In Istanbul, a man was recently admitted to the hospital with two broken legs, a fractured pelvis and severe burns to his genitals.

Apparently, his wife tried to kill a cockroach first by stomping on it, then by trying to flush it down the toilet, then spraying it with bug spray while it floated in the bowl.

The ill-fated gentleman then rushed in to urinate, and dropped his cigarette butt into the toilet. The fumes ignited, causing the aforementioned burns.

Paramedics were duly summoned. They put the man on a stretcher, and then when told how the injury had happened, laughed so much that they dropped him down the stairs, breaking his legs and pelvis.

These stories were curated by Jason Wolfe, a 30-something-year-old English doctor living in North London. His main interests, apart from medicine and surgery, include piano playing, computer programming and the Internet. He likes to keep fit, and in particular, he enjoys a vigorous game of squash. Learn more about Wolfe here.

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