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)
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)
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])
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])