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What are some unbelievable ER stories?

Without violating patient confidentiality, what are some of those crazy cases you’ll never forget? Add your stories to the comments

A question posted recently on Quora asked, “Without violating patient confidentiality, what are some ridiculous ER stories? You know ... those crazy cases you tell your colleagues about. The ones you’ll never forget ...” Lou Davis, and emergency nurse and clinical nurse educator, determined that “the constant source of interest and amusement can be divided into various categoires.” Among her personal favorites:

1. Stuff Where it Shouldn’t Be
The man with an apple inserted into his rectum, apparently by accident after an unfortunate fall onto a fruit basket whilst vacuuming. Naked! Now, I may be naive, but I’m not stupid and this is not believable. The public also present with vibrators, toothpaste pump dispensers and various items of cutlery.

These things are fairly amusing. The stories they tell about how the item got there, funnier still.

2. Creatures and Creepy Crawlies
One memorable day, a young lady arrived in the department weeping bitterly. She had, she told me, something in her bottom. Expecting a minor lump or spot, I asked her to lower her trousers. As I bent down to peer at the offending object, the offending object reared up to look back at me (it was a very large worm!) I vomited, Dr. Dan (I have spoken of him previously) fainted!

We have also had people attempting to insert small rodent-like creatures into various bodily oriffii (not sure if that’s a word but I think you get my gist!)

3. Priapism
Look it up! This is a persistent erection of the male organ. It can be caused by a spinal injury. One patient arrived with a history suggestive of such an injury. There was a large ‘bulge’ in his undergarments. We were worried; this was not a good thing.

Sometimes ‘it was there’ sometimes ‘it wasn’t!’ A colleague was suspicious, she tapped it, a suspiciously solid noise was heard. The patient had a large, false, member pushed into his pants. He had placed it there to ‘impress the girls’.

4. You Can’t Park There
Some people don’t like to walk; some people don’t like to walk so much that they want to park the car as close as they possibly can to the ED. One such person also clearly didn’t want to get cold and/or wet and so drove their car through the automatic doors into the department!

5. Pranks
Emergency Department staff like to joke. And we are very good at it. You may think that you can play pranks on one another; I’m fairly sure that we are better.

  • Sandwiches sellotaped to the ceiling - done that. Wrapping colleague’s cars in cling food wrap - done that.
  • The raising of the ‘dead’ (obviously a colleague) - done that!
  • Gluing colleague’s shoes to the floor (that was funny!)

6. Noxious Substances
We like to think that we are moderately intelligent in the ED. However, that ‘intellect’ seemed to desert one of our number when a patient arrived in the department after having collapsed shortly after drinking from a cola bottle. The partially filled bottle was handed over. My esteemed colleague opened the bottle, inhaled deeply and stated ‘does anyone think that this smells like almonds?’

(yes, for those Agatha Christie fans, it was cyanide!! As punishment, he spent the next few hours dressed in a chemical protection suit!)

7. Bad Folks
Occasionally, people arrive in the ED who have committed, or been victims of, crime (and on occasion have confessed to murder - but that’s another story). On one memorable evening, a less than savoury character arrived having been involved in a violent incident. Forgive us for stepping aside when we were warned ‘you’ve seen nothing’ as he was carried out of the department later.

8. Giving Birth
For various reasons, some women arrive in the ED to give birth. Occasionally, these women (often young girls) claim to be unaware that they are ‘with child’. We in the ED love ‘having a baby’. It makes us feel all warm and fluffy. And it can be fairly amusing. On many occasions, I have been the bearer of good news.

A large number of these new parents are delighted.

Most amazement is reserved for those poor girls who, when the baby is being delivered, claim it isn’t ‘theirs’ and it needs to go back.

9. Stake
We received a ‘red phone’ pre-alert that we would be receiving the victim of a road accident who had collided with a fence. Sure enough, he arrived. Unfortunately, so did the fence.

There was a fence post, probably 5 inches across, which entered his body just below the right side ribs and exited through the left shoulder. All well and good had he been unconscious. He looked at us, we looked at him. In a very English way he said, ‘I seem to have a splinter, I think that you might need to remove it’. He spent three to four weeks on the intensive care unit but lived to tell the tale.

10. Farmers
We were sitting around, chatting idly one day when a big, red-faced farming type hoved into view. We asked if he needed help as he appeared to be a little ‘lost’.

He gestured to his left hand side, ‘I seem to have lopped me arm off,’' he said. We looked at one another. This was clearly (to use the vernacular) Bollox as he was standing in front of us. So we removed the grubby blanket he was clutching around his shoulder. As we pulled it away, his left arm came with it. He looked at each of us in turn, ‘Told you’ he said.

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