Subscribe to our mailing list

Youtube Video Of The Day

12 Warning Signs That You Are Dealing With A Person Who Is Evil

Doctors Confess Their Biggest Mistakes On The Job


We’re all prone to making mistakes at work every now and then, but there are some professions where the window for error is much smaller. When your job involves saving the lives of others, blunders are something you desperately want to avoid. However, doctors are humans too, and not even close to a decade of schooling can prevent a rare instance of misjudgment.

One Redditor decided to ask the community’s doctors and medical professionals what the biggest mistake they ever made on the job was, and the responses will certainly make you wary about your next visit to the hospital.

Here are 24 stories of doctors and medical professionals confessing the biggest errors they’ve made or seen that will make you glad you weren’t the patient.

1. Chain Reaction: “Early in my mom’s obstetrics and gynecology career, she made a mistake that almost ruined a c-section. In the midst of the operation, she dropped her scalpel on the floor. Before she could think, she reactionarily blurted out, ‘Oh [expletive]!’ The mother thought something was wrong with the baby and started freaking out. It took a team of nurses, the husband, and the mother of the patient to calm her down.” (Reddit user: monstercello)

1Nattawon Chaosakun /

2. Stuck: “This wasn’t a huge medical mistake, but it was certainly one of the more awkward things to happen in my career. I was gluing up a lac on a 14-year-old’s forehead. Anyone who has used dermabond knows that it can be runny and bonds very quickly. I ended up accidentally gluing my glove to her face. Her mom was in the room, and I had to tell her, ‘Sorry, I’ve just glued my glove to your daughter’s forehead.’” (Reddit user: pikto)

2Robert Kneschke /

3. Almost Positive: “Pathologist here. The biggest mistake I ever made was during an autopsy on an HIV patient. The virus can survive inside a dead body for potentially a matter of days. I ended up cutting myself during the autopsy. Luckily, I did not acquire the virus, but it was a close call.” (Reddit user: [deleted])

3ESB Professional /

4. Takeout: “Had a patient who was placed in a special ward for immunosuppressed people after having a bone marrow replacement for a rare hematological disease. She was recovering well, but her family snuck in a pizza from the hospital restaurant without our knowledge. She ended up dying from an opportunistic infection because she had no immune system at the time and pizza is not the cleanest food there is.” (Reddit user: [deleted])

4JaaoKun /

5. Five Years: “My grandmother has had diabetes for 20 years and was taking a handful of meds to help control it. She developed a persistent cough, which prompted her doctor to order a battery of tests. They came back negative so he put her on a cocktail of pills to help combat the cough. 35 different meds in five years and nothing was working. She went in for a routine check-up and her normal doctor wasn’t in so she saw an on-call resident. He was confused why she was on so many drugs and said the cough was due to one particular drug that she was on to regulate her insulin. Changed one thing and boom, her cough was gone.” (Reddit user: silence1545)

5fizkes /

6. Nurse Blunder: “I was a nurse at a hospital and I made the mistake of giving anticoagulant, a blood thinner, to the wrong patient. I didn’t realize until the next day when the patient’s red blood count dropped significantly and he winded up having to go to ICU.” (Reddit user: stewyy)

6ESB Professional /

7. Shard: “I didn’t cause this one but I did end up saving it. We were doing a C-section and all was well until it was time to take the cord blood. The surgeon was shocked to see the tube had a large chunk of glass broken off in the rim, but the glass was nowhere to be seen. The probability that the glass was in the open abdomen in front of us was high so we had to feel around as safely as possible. After 3 to 4 minutes, which felt like an eternity at the time, I felt the edge of something firm inside the edge of the incision. Pulled up a blood clot with the glass piece inside, which luckily didn’t go into the cavity.” (Reddit user: real_doc_here)

7Heather Frackiewicz /

8. Wrong Person: “I accidentally gave 9 pills to the wrong guest when I was working as a camp nurse for people with intellectual disabilities. I didn’t know who I was looking for but my friend directed me to their room. The guest’s hypochondriac roommate told me they were the person I was looking for and I administered the meds. My stomach dropped when the person I was supposed to give the meds to came out 12 seconds later. We called poison control and luckily everything ended up being okay, but I quickly discovered this guest has a habit of continually trying to get everyone else’s pills at all times.” (Reddit user: ironmaven)

8Oleksii Fedorenko /

9. Good News, Bad News: “My brother is a surgeon and he was working with two newborns as part of his residency. One was getting much better and was going to make it, but the other was hours from death. He had to inform the families, but realized 15 minutes after doing so, that he mixed them up. He had to then go explain the situation to both families.” (Reddit user: AbdrinedaStain)

9g-stockstudio /

10. Important Instructions: “Had a 7-year-old boy come in first thing for surgery. His family had been informed, as all patients are, not to eat for 12 hours prior. His parents ended up getting him breakfast because ‘he was hungry.’ He vomited under anesthesia, aspirated it, then got a terrible lung infection and died. Of course, the parents still tried to blame everyone else.” (Reddit user: eaterofdog)

10faustasyan /

11. Double Loss: “At the hospital I work at, we had one nurse who accidentally mixed up two infusions for two separate patients. It was doing a very stressful shift and she gave them 100 ml of potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride (NaCl). They both died within minutes of one another.” (Reddit user: knittingcatmafia)

11Africa Studio /

12. Out Cold: “We had a pharmacist accidentally give 30 mg of oxycodone to a woman who was supposed to be receiving 10 mg. She was also on a triad of Xanax, Ambien, and soma as well as some Norco. After realizing the mistake, we called her repeatedly to no avail. The police were sent to her apartment and apparently, she had been passed out for days.” (Reddit user: GibbGibb)

12Phil Lowe /

13. Loose Fit: “Was working in oncology when I walked into a room where a patient sounded like he needed to throw up. I was just a summer temp at the time so I looked for an available nurse but couldn’t find one. I went in and the poor elderly man was very emaciated and was signaling towards his throat. He was going blue and I quickly told him to open wide. When you lose weight, prosthetic teeth can become a loose fit and his ended up getting stuck in his throat. I managed to get them out and went to find a nurse again. The nurse came back with me and promptly reattached them to his gums. Had to report her for that.” (Reddit user: ordinary_snowflake82)

13Mat Hawyard /

14. Bad Exit: “My father’s co-worker went to the hospital for severe stomach pains. They used a camera of some sort to go in and see what was wrong. After investigating for a while, they went to pull out the camera and ended up cutting something they shouldn’t have. He ended up dying a week later due to internal bleeding.” (Reddit user: CurtCoBabble)

14flywish /

15. Rookie Mistake: “In the ICU there was a patient who needed to be intubated immediately. An intern doctor attempted inserting the tube into the patient’s lungs but ended up pushing it into the patient’s stomach, which was full. The patient started throwing up and choked to death.” (Reddit user: FreedomMoon)

15sfam_photo /

16. Fluid: “I took a handover from the night shift nurse who noticed that her patient had barely drunk anything during her shift so she gave him IV fluid. When I read the handover sheet and notes, it clearly stated that the patient was on a fluid restriction. He had heart and kidney failure. When the heart doesn’t work properly, it can’t pump the water effectively around the body. He died a few days later.” (Reddit user: alambbb)

16Thaiview /

17. Missed It: “I missed a gunshot wound once. A guy was dropped off at the ER covered in blood after a rap concert. We became focused on a gunshot wound with an arterial bleed and a nurse placed a blood pressure cuff on the arm where it was. However, we missed another gunshot wound because the blood pressure cuff slowed the bleeding. We didn’t find it until the chest x-ray. Luckily, the patient lived, but I still feel the weight of that potentially fatal mistake.” (Reddit user: disposable_h3r0)

17memorisz /

18. Nick Of Time: “I once accidentally ran a creatinine test on a patient when a comp metabolic was not ordered. The guy was in renal failure but no one knew. He was about to go in for surgery, some sort of bypass, but I got the results in time to stop them from putting him under. Could have been a very messy situation and he has no idea he very well could have died.” (Reddit user: bazoos)

18Spotmatik Ltd /

19. Extra Extraction: “Dentist here. I was performing a simple extraction and had no idea that the x-ray was flipped the wrong way the whole time. I was viewing the film backward so I ended up pulling out the wrong tooth. Luckily, the tooth I ended up accidentally extracting needed to go as well.” (Reddit user: YoureOnlyLameOnce)

19alexisdc /

20. Lost And Found: “Saw a patient who was experiencing abdominal pain. She had an IUD placed back in the 70s, a Dalkon Shield. The gyno couldn’t find it upon follow up so he told her she must have passed it. We ended up finding it in the retroperitoneal space near her right kidney 17 years later. She wanted to sue but he had since retired.” (Reddit user: MatrixPA)


21. Crushed Dreams: “I’m a surgical resident and my focus is in pediatrics. I’ve done a fair amount of surgeries and have yet to experience a death. The worst mistake for me was when I was operating on 8-year-old’s ulnar. I accidentally caused damage to a nearby nerve, which caused him to lose about 20% of his sensory stimulus. He wanted to be a violinist.” (Reddit user: imsorryitsmyfault)

21Puwadol Jaturawutthichai /

22. Same Mistakes: “I am a doctor but this happened to one I know. A patient went in for surgery on his right knee. The surgeon performed the surgery and everything went fine except he did it on the wrong knee. A few days later, the patient returned for surgery on the correct knee. The surgeon did the surgery and ended up forgetting a sponge in the knee. The wrong knee, once again.” (Reddit user: altiif)


23. Close Call: “Nurse here. I was assisting during a vasectomy. The doctor located the testicular artery and thought it was the vas deferens, which is the sperm tract. He was about to tie it off and cut it, but luckily, I told him quickly that he should double check the anatomy.” (Reddit user: markko79)

23Minerva Studio /

24. Fatal Error: “My mother works as a radiation therapist and had one colleague who really messed up. She was treating a patient’s brain cancer and only realized 20 treatments later that they were firing radiation into the wrong side of the brain. The patient died not long after and the case is still in the courts.” (Reddit user: coaus)

24adriaticfoto /


More From Providr