25 Stories About The Consequences Of Ignoring Medical Advice

Published 3 weeks ago

It’s heartbreaking when someone suffers medically from a totally avoidable situation. Many medical professionals recently shared their personal experiences on Reddit about dealing with frustrating patients who ignored their advice and almost died as a result. 

Unfortunately, even doctors can only tell someone what they may be doing wrong or how to correct a medical issue. They can’t force someone to make changes, take medicine or follow critical medical advice.  However, if the patient is dismissive and ignores these recommendations it can even lead to fatal consequences, as indicated in the stories below. 

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#1 Had a repeat patient (not quite frequent flyer status) as a medic that would always call for a severe allergic reaction to shellfish every other month or so. She had always had the allergy and knew her reactions were getting worse. After a year (6 or 7 calls) of this silliness, my crew and I stayed in the hospital ER with her and talked at length about the situation since she’d always stay mum about how it kept happening.

Image source: MonsterHunterRelias, Elle Hughes / Pexels

She told us she comes from a patriarchal culture and her father made this amazing seafood soup. If she didn’t eat it and “force her body not to reject his gift to the family” she would lose her car, phone, or whatever punishment her father deemed necessary. We pleaded with her to do whatever it took to show him it was deadly and carry her Epi-Pens with her.

Fast forward a few years when I altered course into nursing and joined that ER. Saw a familiar bloated face. Turns out she had gone off to college in another state and hadn’t been home for awhile, but had visited her folks for a holiday. Of course she had the soup and despite hitting herself with the Epi-Pen when her throat started tightening, the reaction continued. Her mom, who I had never seen before, told me she tried to eat it fast and rushed to the bathroom where she was found on the floor.

Medics couldn’t tube her in the field so tried medical management until they could drive her to our ER. Doc performed a tracheotomy at the bedside and she went to the ICU. Took a week for her to recover and I was told by the ICU nurses that her father “finally got it” that her allergy was a real medical condition.

#2 Animal hospital professional, at least once a week we have to re suture up a spay because the owners don’t want to keep the cone on their dog/cat and let them tear up their surgical site. Their organs are right there!!! Keep the damn cone on!!! I don’t care how “sad” Luna is with it on. Then they yell at me because it costs money to sedate and re suture an animal.

Image source: chandeliercat, Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

#3 My granda is the patient.

Image source: Arlessa, engin akyurt / Unsplash

“Come straight back if you have any chest pain.”

He didn’t go back and this is what followed:

Blood clot travelled to his brain.

Three strokes.

Bleeding on the brain.

Two more minor strokes.

Paralysed left arm and right foot.

Broca’s Aphasia.

He went from being a man nearing his 80’s who was Old Skool. He worked as a school crossing guard, grew all of his own vegetables, fed the birds, built tables, biked six miles on the weekends, walked everywhere, and was still able to play darts despite his eyesight being that of a visually impaired gnat because he knew the board so well.

He went from that to living in a care home and unable to talk. Has he lost his stubborness? Nope. He won’t do his rehabilitation and so even though he could get his speech back to a decent degree, he doesn’t want to do the therapy and using communication cards humiliates him, so we’re left trying to decipher random eyebrow movements so we can guess what he’s trying to say.

One of these days, I swear on my own bloody eyelashes, that I’m going to shake him until his teeth rattle. Him and his brothers. They’re all the bloody same. My uncle, granda’s younger brother, didn’t go to hospital at all and was found on his bedroom floor, whimpering.

He had flipping sepsis.

#4 Patient was supposed to have starved for eight hours for her morning scheduled breast surgery. During the procedure she regurgitated what can only be described as as a full partially digested English breakfast, with identifiable sausages, egg, beans and possibly black pudding, up into her unprotected airway and attempted to inhale the lot. Managed to prevent the majority of it going down, but she needed HDU care for a day or so for her lungs to recover from the stomach acid.

Image source: VolatileAgent81, Andy Wang / Unsplash

#5 Not a med professional, but my aunt is and I’d like to share her horrifying story. She once had a patient, young guy in his early 20’s, who had very poor hygiene. Didn’t shower regularly, didn’t brush his teeth, wore the same clothes for days on end…etc. IIRC he one day came in with a nasty rash on his lower abdomen/pubic area that was starting to show signs of infection.

She provided antibiotics and instruction and ***extensively stressed*** to him to improve hygiene and keep the area clean otherwise it’ll just keep coming back or get worse. Well, as the story goes, he didn’t pick up the prescription and apparently choose to just keep putting A&D Gold ointment on the area. She later found out he ended up in the ER after going into shock at work, turns out he ended up getting gangrene in the area and it had spread to his p**is and s*****m which had to be removed.

Image source: TommyLeeJonesIsGay

#6 When I was in medical school had a gentleman in his late 60’s come in for chest pain, found to have a large heart attack (very impressive STEMI in LAD by ekg). Refused emergent cardiac catheterization (go through the arteries and put a stent to open up the vessel of the heart) so he could bring his car home and planned on taking an ambulance back to the hospital. He was in the parking ramp and it cost $20/day to park. Came back by ambulance in full arrest (no pulse) and died. Doc had to call his son and explain what happened, he was like “yah that sounds like dad, he’s always been cheap”.

Image source: SivverGreenMan, Go to Ian Taylor’s profile Ian Taylor / Unsplash

#7 I am a nurse and I had a very polite and lovely patient trying to remove all manner of chest tubes and IVs after a motorcycle accident. He was obviously delirious from the pain meds and the head injury but very nice still.

Image source: whoorderedsquirrel, Cedric Fauntleroy / Pexels

I left him in the care of my coworker for my lunch, ten mins into my lunch break I see him stagger past the break room door like something out of the Walking Dead, trailing blood everywhere, only to collapse out cold a couple of seconds later. Said he needed the bathroom!! Idk how the f**k he pulled his own chest tubes out. Removing them always makes me cringe let alone doing it to himself!!! He was put back to bed, this time in the ICU, and got some more sedation and even tho him ripping it all out set him back a couple of weeks he still discharged and came to say hi and thanks on the way out. The happiest delirious patient I ever had. What a bloody trooper. Haha.

#8 Had a throat cancer patient, we offered him surgery to remove the tumor (it was a fairly conservative surgery) he left because he didn’t want a mutilating surgery and his daughter in law had been studying magnet therapy and “she was quite good with it” (his words) he came back a year later, and was out of reach from any treatment, his cancer was so advanced that there was nothing we could do for him.

Image source: Dutchess_md19, Karolina Kaboompics / Pexels

#9 Nurse/paramedic here. Frequently went to a patient’s home for a shortness of breath call. She was always smoking while receiving supplemental oxygen, which is quite dangerous. I told her to stop doing it. A few weeks later, she burned her house down and nearly died of third degree facial burns after continuing to smoke while on oxygen.

Image source: markko79, Walter Leininger / Pexels

#10 My wife is a labor and delivery nurse. When a baby is born they give it some vitamin that the baby can’t produce itself for the first 6 months of its life (or something like that), i think its Vitamin K to help with blood clotting. its potentially lethal if the baby doesn’t get this obviously as they can bleed out internally.

Welp, one mother didn’t want their kid getting vitamin K cuz anti-vaxxer. Baby ended up dying in the NICU. No way to know if the lack of vitamin K contributed to the death or not but…i think most medical professionals would point to it being part of the reason the baby died.

EDIT: To clarify, the cause of death *was* related to a bleeding issue. I don’t recall the cause of the bleeding or what the specifics of the issue were but ultimately the baby doesn’t get the clotting aid, baby bleeds to death, lacking the clotting aid likely played a role in the death.

Image source: jbourne0129

#11 Not necessarily the patient, but the caretakers at the facility where the patient was living.

Image source: ehh_soso, Su Casa Panamá / Pexels

I used to visit different board and lodge facilities for adults with mental illnesses and meet with clients to discuss their mental health, help them set up job interviews, therapy sessions, and help them set up their medications for the week if they were unable to do it themselves. Most of these facilities were places for people who had left the hospital and were deemed independent and stable enough to have the freedom to come and go as they pleased in a shared living situation, much like a dorm. Despite having a place to stay and food provided, they were usually pretty poorly supervised by the mental health staff workers there. I often hated these places because, while they were ideal for some people who were truly getting back on their feet and thrived off being able to live a semi normal independent life, they were way too lax for many of the sicker more isolating patients who were not at all well and slipping under the radar. Some of this included them not taking their medication as directed, which was one of the requirements for keeping their housing, but unfortunately it was not strictly enforced.

There was one man who had paranoid schizophrenia who was extremely quiet and kept to himself. I had met with him a few times and he seemed to be going downhill in his appearance and general mood. I spoke with his doctor and urged the facility staff to closely monitor him and his medication intake, as I saw in his logs that he often skipped coming in to get his medication at all. I was told that they were going to be sitting down with him to remind him of his living agreement and that he had 30 days before losing his housing if he wasn’t med compliant. I was also told that his psychiatrist was aware and they may be sending him back to the hospital that week.

Apparently this never happened and he went out into the community and acquired a knife and used it to slice up his roommate while his roommate slept. He carved him from mouth to ear and stabbed him in the stomach several times. The man survived the attack but the man who had gone off his medication claimed he was being poisoned by his roommate through the window AC unit. For anyone with a violent incident like that on their medical report, it is incredibly unlikely he will ever be able to find a better rehabilitation house ever again that will accept him. The system basically screwed over two people that day, as the man who was hurt was already there for PTSD, and as you can imagine, it not only scarred him physically for life but exacerbated his illness with more trauma.

#12 We had a mom in the NICU who would constantly kiss her premature baby on the mouth.

Image source: pmbratt, Jonathan Borba / Pexels

Several nurses educated her around why that’s not safe for the baby, and thankfully documented their teachings. This was during cold and flu season, and became even more concerning when the mother was coming in with cold-like symptoms (coughing, sneezing and obvious congestion). She still continued to kiss the baby right on the mouth. The baby was almost ready to go home by this time, but got extremely sick. The baby ended up on a ventilator and had quite the extended stay with many, many close calls.

#13 Obligatory not a doctor but: I had a bite but I didn’t see what bit me. Thought it was a hornet sting, but it kept spreading and it itched and hurt and was really hot to the touch. I was in college and on my mom’s insurance and I called her to say I thought I needed to go to a doctor. She told me “suck it up, it’s a bee sting”. I finally went anyway aaaaaaaand it was infected, it was spreading to my lymphatic system, and it was almost certainly a black widow.

Image source: theniwokesoftly

#14 I’ve read that the most common reason for a surgery to be re-performed is the patient not following doctor’s orders during recovery.

Image source: Scrappy_Larue, The Lazy Artist Gallery / Pexels

Doctor says: “Don’t ride your bicycle for six weeks.”

Patient hears: “Don’t ride your bicycle until you feel you can.”.

#15 Patient came to see me having a stroke due to a blocked brain artery. I’d activated the Code Stroke team – everyone was ready in the theatre to get the clot out of her artery: nurses, anaesthetist, technician – but she (42) insisted on updating her Facebook status and “checking in” before allowing me to treat her. Wasted 3-5 minutes and 6-10 million brain cells (if she had that many to start with).

Image source: Wenderov

#16 We had a college student come into the ER and had a wonderful case of appendicitis. He needed to get surgery ASAP as surgery is way easier and safer if done before it ruptures. He called his parents to let them know and they told him to refuse because he had a test upcoming in the week and they didn’t want him to miss it. He left the ER Against Medical Advice while we were all telling him that if your appendicitis gets worse and ruptures it can definitely lead to death. The kid luckily comes back about 10 hours later after it ruptured, he gets the emergency surgery and the amount of time he got to spend in the hospital probably doubled.

Image source: I_AM_A_BOOK, Vidal Balielo Jr. / Pexels

#17 Didn’t die, but did lose an eye as a result. Young kid (20) with bad diabetic retinopathy from uncontrolled DM type 1, had eye surgery to remove blood and scar tissue from inside the eye. We told him to take it easy for a few weeks. He went to six flags. Rollercoasters are bad. Retina completely detached, eye got soft and painful, had to be removed.

Image source: hbrumage, Perry Merrity II / Unsplash

#18 I was assistant manager of a group home. We had a resident who had epilepsy and was also very reclusive. He would get agitated if we came in his room or even knocked on the door. However, policy said he had to be checked on every 30 minutes because of his seizure risk. That wasn’t being done so I brought this up to the manager.

Image source: notreallylucy, Mulyadi / Unsplash

She said she was aware but it was okay to bend the rules because he would get really upset when we checked in on him. I really wasn’t comfortable with her answer but I was young and assumed she knew better than me. When I was on duty I checked on him every 30 minutes and he would yell at me, but I didn’t let it bother me.

About six months later, after I had been reassigned to another group home, he had a seizure alone in his room and was found dead. A day later.

Now I’m older and a little smarter. When I find a problem like this I stick with it a don’t let people talk me out of it. Not again. Rest in peace, D. Gone but not forgotten.

#19 I’m not a medical professional, but I used to get allergy injections to build up my immune system because of the crazy amount of allergies I had. I would get these injections every week and I was instructed by my family doctor and the allergist to wait in the waiting room 30 minutes after the injection in case I received a reaction.

Image source: franksowner, Mufid Majnun / Unsplash

Well, one day I decided I didn’t want to wait anymore (also because it had been a few months without a reaction) and left immediately after my appointment. I went into anaphylactic shock not even 10 minutes later. It was crazy because I didn’t even know what was happening at first and didn’t even know how to use an EpiPen.

#20 My dad tells a story of a morbidly obese woman who came into his clinic and after an exam told her simply: “If you don’t make drastic changes to your lifestyle and diet and start losing weight you are going to die.” She was dead within the week. Her family tried to sue because my dad was clearly “a witch doctor” and cursed her to death. It was sad all around.

Image source: Kyren11

#21 Not a professional but a patient who got scared by their doctor. I had my 2nd c-section, my surgeon had to leave before I could be discharged so the other surgeon have me my discharge orders.

Image source: The_Turtle_Moves_13, Anna Shvets / Pexels

He’d just come back from having to re-sew a woman’s abdomine back together because she decided to stand up and pick up her 5 year old the day she left the hospital. Well he let me know under no uncertain terms that I had better not pick up anything over 8lbs or stand up while holding anything or we’d have words. Man he was scary but he’d also had to push this women’s guts back in and see her terrified child covered in his mom’s blood. So anyway I did not pick up anything heavier then my child for two weeks until they said I could. He also told me husband all about not having sex and he shouldn’t even talk to me about it for 3 months.

#22 Overheard in the ER I volunteer at:

Image source: daemare, Mikhail Nilov / pexels

*heated argument*

Dr: Sir, I’m telling you do not touch the knife. You could risk cutting an artery.

*patient shouts and apparently pulls out the knife.*

Dr: Damn it! Angie, get more gauze!

*Some incoherent shouting. I saw security walk by too. Patient shouts.*

Dr: Why did you put it back in?!

That’s right. He removed the knife, bled, and in the shouting match, re-stabbed himself with the knife in the same spot it came out of.

#23 I’m a dietitian so no one follows my advice. It just takes longer for them to die from it.

Image source: GrumpyDietitian

#24 I had the snip and my doctor told me to take a week off, wear tight fitting underpants and not lift anything heavier than a cup of tea. I did exactly that and had no problems.

My best mate thought that was all nonsense and went back to fitting kitchens the day after his vasectomy.

And the day after that he was in hospital with a testicle the size of a coconut.

Image source: anon

#25 One time at the VA after adult circumcision. “Do not have sex or masturbate for 6 weeks”

Decided to masturbate the next day. All stitches tore.

Image source: wenkebach

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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critical consequences, doctors, medical advice, medical professionals, stubborn patients
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