Hospitals are places of healing, and those who work within them are often the difference between life and death and everything in between. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to work in one, doctors, nurses and paramedics from around the world have been sharing their most disturbing medical stories. Prepare yourself for blood, guts and even the odd ghost story or two. These disturbing tales go to show you don’t just need healing hands to work in a hospital, nerves of steel are also essential.
You‘ll need a strong stomach to get through the following medical horror stories, but you’ll come away with a new sense of appreciation for the hardworking men and women who have dedicated their lives to saving others.
1. The Guessing Game
“I work as an ICU nurse. A mid-20s female came in with some serious cardiac abnormalities and then went into respiratory distress. Never had any medical history at all. We had to put her on the ventilator, but she was on just enough sedation to keep her lucid. She could nod/shake her head yes and no appropriately to questions.
One night, the patient in the room next to hers died, but the body was still in the room about to be taken to the morgue. The female patient’s door was closed with curtains drawn, so she couldn’t have seen what was going on next door. When I went in to check on her, she had a look of sheer panic on her face, trembling. I asked her a series of questions to see if she was cold/hot/in pain/etc. and she denied all. I asked her if she saw something—she started to aggressively nod her head YES. She wasn’t on any drugs that would make her hallucinate. I went on to get details on what this thing looked like. After playing 20 questions I got this: a man, pale white, left arm missing, heavy, bald, standing still, behind me. This was the man who had just died next door.
I spent the rest of the night consoling her.” – whites42
2. Life After Death
“When I was on an ER rotation during med school we got a call about a 23-year-old woman who was shot in the head, and who was already completely gone, but was reportedly five months pregnant so they were doing CPR until they got her to the hospital to see if the baby was viable. They got her to the ER and did an ultrasound and turned out the baby was full-term so they did a C-section in like under a minute and got the baby out.
I don’t think it’s so incredibly uncommon but it was pretty surreal to see a baby delivered from a dead person with their brain exposed and she was pretty close to the same age I was at the time.” – bluegraypurple
3. The Last Goodbye
“When I was a student, I got called in on a stroke patient. She had coded and they were doing CPR. They worked for 45 minutes, but she died. They cleaned her up, and called on the family to say goodbye, but by that time the family left. She had been both brain dead and without a pulse for more than 45 minutes. Blood had filled her brain, and she was completely grey and started to smell. Suddenly, she sat up, and called for her family. The nurses rushed to get monitors and equipment back on her. They started working on her again, she stabilized, said goodbye to her family, and promptly died a second time.” – simplesimon6262
4. Miracle Man
“When I was in trauma surgery in upstate by, got a notification about a man who was shot 3 times in the head. He comes in, literally one eye hanging out of the socket, blood everywhere, and he’s slumped forward. Apparently, he was shot in the temple, exited out his right eye socket, in the nose exited from the roof of the mouth, and In the cheek one with exit from the side of the head. At this point, I’m thinking they just brought him in so we can pronounce him in the ER because he looked dead. I go to examine him and tilt his head back, and
At this point, I’m thinking they just brought him in so we can pronounce him in the ER because he looked dead. I go to examine him and tilt his head back, and he says ‘Yoooo be gentle!’ I jump back and scream like a little boy, as did everyone in the room. Literally, the bullets missed his brain in every single shot.” – Noimnotonacid
“One of the aides I work with said she was doing postmortem care on a patient who had been on many, many anticoagulants before death. She said when they turned her on her side she started bleeding out of every orifice—eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. She said her and the nurse when home and had nightmares for a week.” – sparklingbluelight
6. The Haunted Hospital
“My town has two really old hospitals. One no longer functions overnight, and the stories are unsettling. No one cleans the old ER alone because all the lights and call bells go off. On other floors, there’s a kid with his ball, a lady in a white dress, etc. A coworker was cleaning an entire floor utterly solo (the norm) and bounced between rooms because the cleaning solution stays wet for a few minutes. Upon returning to a freshly wiped bed, hand prints were clearly visible.” – Sapphire_Starr
“I used to do home care for an elderly lady with learning disabilities and no eyes (they were removed due to a congenital condition). She was lovely but prone to wandering around her flat at night in total silence, which led to several horrifying situations where I left my room at 2 am only to encounter her standing silently in the hallway, turning her eyeless face towards me.” – NovelistResearcher
“One call that will always haunt me was on an unresponsive female at around three in the morning. We get there and do some pointless CPR along with the fire department… She had been dead for a while; no shockable rhythm, and clear rigor mortis. The most disturbing part was that the original caller was her 11-year-old daughter, who had just spent three days with her mother’s corpse and called 9-1-1 because she was ‘lonely’. It also didn’t help that the victim was completely naked when we arrived.” – CupofJoe776
9. Clear Waters
“I have quite a few stories, most of them are hilarious and then there are those you never want to think about. What fucked me up the most was when I saw how eyes change at the moment of death. Imagine you are looking at clear water but that clear water changes to foggy in an instant. In my 8 years here I’ve only seen this once, and I’ve personally seen well over 250 dead or dying people.” – ImCuden
10. Night Lights
“I work nights in a long-term care facility as a nurse’s assistant. I have two men under my care and both of them are unable to use their call lights. They have severe dementia and debilitating Parkinson’s disease but still, their lights are looped around their bed rail. One night their light came on and I went to answer it already confused and creeped out. I turned it off and left the room. Before I could get two doors up the light came back on. I went in there and both lights were unplugged from the wall and thrown under their beds. I fished them out, plugged them back in and left.
I’ve seen shadows standing over the dying and felt a tap on my shoulder while doing chest compressions so I knew that lady had passed.” – beeoakly
11. Holding Hands
“I’ve had a couple of weird calls. One was a major MVA-head on many, many years ago when we played M.E. as well. We had 2 DOA (husband and spouse) that were killed instantly in a head-on collision. They had a 12-year-old daughter that was in between them and they actually took the impact, saving her life.
While en route, we noticed the husband’s arm had come loose so I went back to re-strap it. As I was doing that, the wife’s arm suddenly fell out as well, and her hand fell into her husband’s. My boss was watching in the rearview mirror and helped clear the way as I ran back into the front. It spooked both of us. Apparently, the couple (mid 30’s), had just found out he was cancer free after his last treatment.” – Anonymous
12. Last Meal
“I had an old lady come in by ambulance, near death. She was a DNR (do-not-resuscitate), so we weren’t going to do much for her. She didn’t have any family that we could find. The hospital was full, so we had to keep her in the ER for the night.
Again, she was near death. When you’ve seen enough people die, there’s no mistaking it, and she was almost there. Barely responsive; pale, cool, breaths were really irregular, heart rate was up and down, too. We just turned the lights down and kept an eye on her monitor, basically waiting for her to die.
About an hour later, she’s standing at the door of her room. She’d gotten up and put on all her clothes. We were all like, ‘WTF?’ One of the nurses went to check on her, and she said she was hungry. Not knowing really what to make of things, we got her a chair, a bedside table, and went to the cafeteria and got her a tray of food.
She sat there, ate all her food, talked with the staff a little. After about an hour, she told her nurse that she was tired and wanted to lie back down. We helped her back into bed, and within 30 minutes she was dead.” – Anonymous
13. “Don’t Let me go Back there”
“When my mom worked as an E.R. nurse a guy came in from a car accident and was losing blood. In the midst of resuscitation, the man jolts awake and screams ‘Don’t let me go back there! Please, please, please don’t let me go back!’ A few seconds later they lost him.” – JeremyHowell
14. The Rusty Old Saw
“This woman was clearly struggling mentally. She went into her basement and started sawing at her wrists horizontally with a rusty hack saw, bleeds a good amount, and then starts walking around the house. She wasn’t dying quick enough, so she sat down in a chair in the middle of the living room, and started going at her wrists again, this time with a pair of scissors.
I was the second person inside the house. It looked like a massacre. We searched the house top to bottom, fully expecting to find multiple dead bodies in there. I’ve never seen so much blood in my life. Every single room had a trail of blood in it.
The woman was found on a chair in the living room. Rigor mortis had contorted her body into a really strange, unnatural pose, and her face was haunting. Literally the stuff of nightmares. Her wrists had huge chunks of skin/veins/muscle missing from them. Saying she slit her wrists is inaccurate. She ripped them to pieces.” – anoncop1
“I work a stroke/telemetry floor on the bought shift. Most of our patients are elderly. Apparently, there are two things that patients see before they pass away. Some will say that two men are walking in their rooms and telling them to get ready to leave. The patient will call and tell us that these men are big and abrasive in their demeanor. They are either terrified or annoyed when they see the two men. The other thing they will see is a little boy who will go into their rooms and try to wake them up. The boy is usually loud and runs around their rooms. The patients will call and ask who’s letting children just run around late night. Several nights or even that same shift we’re coding or cleaning the patient for the funeral home to pick up.” – pokfynder
16. The Handsome Man in Black
“I used to work in a skilled nursing facility, usually assigned to the Alzheimer’s ward. One night I’m in the linen room stocking my cart, and I heard someone shuffle up behind me, then I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around and there was no one else in the room. The door was still shut too.
Another lady started to complain that a man was coming into her room at night (again, Alzheimer’s so I didn’t think much of it) so to reassure her, I told her I’d check on her throughout the night. She complained of this man for every night for two more weeks when I asked her to describe him to me.
‘He’s real handsome, and wears a black suit. Oh. He’s right behind you now, honey.’
That freaked me the f*ck out. Of course, there was no one behind me. She died the next night in her sleep.” – Anonymous
17. The Blender
“We got a call for a male in his early 30s with ‘heavy groin trauma’ (exact words of the dispatcher). We roll up lights and sirens and the guy is waiting for us on the front step with a towel over his crotch. We barely come to a stop and the guy is already running towards the rig holding this towel. I asked him what was wrong and he moved the towel and this guy’s dick was just barely hanging on. Apparently, he had ‘lady problems’ so he decided to fornicate with the food mixer he had in his kitchen and accidentally turned it on.” – YayShinny
18. The Charred Skin
“Motorcycle driver, accident, third-degree burns, arrived DOA. Had to transfer him from ambulance gurney to ER bed. As we were moving him with a transfer sheet, the liquefied/cooked subcutaneous fat caused the charred skin on his back to separate and his body slipped onto the floor (despite several of us trying to ‘catch’ him).” – Doc-in-a-box
19. Dead Man Moaning
“Worked security through college at a local hospital. The only ‘creepy’ thing I remember is when a dead man moaned. One of my duties was to help wheel patients who had expired down to the in-house morgue. Once we were wheeling an older man from the ER down and halfway down the hallway he let out this low moan. I started to panic, thinking that he was coming back to life but the RN explained to me (newbie) that sometimes the air in the lungs doesn’t come out until sometime later or is delayed for a bit.” – ill_do_it-later
20. Otherworldly Screams
“I have had fellow coworkers swear that strange things have occurred in the ER. Two people that I work with were charting at the nurse’s station when they both heard a scream followed by incoherent words come from one of our open bays. There were three patients in the room and they denied screaming or hearing anything. I have also had fellow coworkers talk about hearing strange voices especially after really bad codes and one person states she felt someone grabbing her shoulder after the doc pronounced a trauma code. These are all respectable people and I do not think they would lie.” – Anonymous
21. Blank Stare
“We got a call to go out to a scene for an elderly woman with chest pains. I arrive at the house, front door is open. We knock, hear the old woman calling out from the back ‘I’m in the back room’ in a very monotone and calm voice. My partner and I go to the back of the house looking for this woman, and that’s when we smelled it. Nothing prepares you for the smell of rotting corpse. I’ve smelled it a dozen times, and it never gets any less disturbing. We radio for police and ALS backup as we move through the house.
We opened the door to the master bedroom, and there is our patient. She is approximately 80, and she is staring at the master bathroom with these cold, dead eyes. She never once looked at us as we approached her and began talking to her. I got to the bedside and got in front of her gaze, and she just looked right through me. I turned around to see what she could possibly be looking at, and there was the source of my smell.
A man, about the same age as my patient, is on the floor with very little left of his head still attached to his body. A shotgun lay on the floor next to him, and most of his head was strewn about the walls and bathroom counter. We loaded the woman up in the ambulance, and our police backup pulled up.
I don’t think that woman blinked once the entire time she was in our care.” – TheFilthiest
22. “Bill’s Here”
“I’m an RN and while I was a student I was caring for a lady who had end-stage renal failure, had a DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation) and was shutting down. We were having a little chat when she stopped, looked over my shoulder and said ‘Bill’s here love, I’ve got to go,’ and swiftly stopped breathing. Read her old notes and Bill was her deceased husband.” – Jesspandapants
23. The Body on the Floor
“The call was for an older woman, lying in bed. When we get there, the smell is horrendous of a dead body. There are millions of flies everywhere and a little old lady in lying in the bed, alive. About five feet away, there is a body covered up by a sheet. The lady was a dementia patient, and her husband (the deceased) was the primary caregiver. Based on the number of flies and state of decomposition, the police estimated the guy had been dead for about three weeks. The woman must have been getting some food out of the refrigerator, but it was totally empty by the time we arrived.
The creepiest part happened on the way to the hospital with the woman, she said, ‘I hope that nice man on the floor is OK’.” – Tools4toys
24. The Fallen Cross
“I responded to a call where a janitor was dusting quite a large stone cross in the middle of a church. He had been up on a ladder cleaning, when he slipped off, and proceeded to try to hold onto the cross to keep from falling. Unfortunately, the weight of the 200-pound man was too much to support. The cross fell towards him, landing on his left arm, with a part of the horizontal stone of the cross, pushing his muscles and tendons out of his wrist like a squeezed toothpaste tube. Then the cross fell completely on him splattering his brain across the floor. Quite disturbing, and definitely the most horrific and gore filled call I had ever witnessed.” – UpboatOarKnotUpboat
25. The Headless Nurse
“I used to work in St Barts Hospital in London, which in parts is over 1,000 years old. One of the buildings had 2 floors (with massively high ceilings), and so the floors were taken out and rearranged to make into 5 floors. The nurses working night shift would often tell us of the ghost of a night nurse who wandered silently doing her ’rounds’ at night—but due to the new floors, only her head would be visible drifting down the ward.” – jenthejedi
“I was still a nursing student at the time, but this was from when I had my psychiatric clinical placement in my 3rd year.
I was assigned to a young male patient with schizophrenia. He had been a voluntary admission because he heard voices telling him to hurt people around him, and he admitted himself because he was afraid of actually going through with it.
Anyway, I went into the room alone, as usual, and did the usual introduction and asking how he was doing. He was at a desk drawing creepy, hideous monsters—each monster had its own page, and there had to be at least half a dozen of these pages scattered around him. I asked him what they were. He answered that those were the monsters he saw. They were the monsters that whispered to him and told him to hurt people and do awful things. Guarded, I asked him, ‘Are they telling you to hurt me?’
He answered, ‘Yes.’
I didn’t stay very long in that room.” – duckface08
27. The Man in Black
“People turn batshit crazy and creepy as hell when they get really sick. There’s even a term called ICU psychosis…and trust me, it’s real. Anyway, the creepiest that takes the cake for me is this (am an ICU nurse, btw): Had a patient who was admitted for overdose. Very long history of mental health problems. She was thrashing around in bed, very combative, kicking people’s asses for days, totally incoherent.
Well, the night I had her, she started making decent sense, but still not oriented at all. She was extremely paranoid and kept talking about the man in black in the corner. I’d hear her talking to him and screaming, all night long. So I’d go in there and try to calm her down, but you could see the fear in her eyes. she was talking other nonsense about how she was in space and shit, and with certain patients, you try to redirect their ‘reality,’ but what I did didn’t help. She said ‘that man in black! Don’t you see him!’ and pointed to the corner. I said ‘there’s nobody here.’ I stepped in the corner she was pointing to and waved my hands around. While I’m waving my hands around in the air, she had the most horrifically terrified look on her face that actually scared the shit out of me, like I had just assaulted the man in black. I said ‘see, there’s nobody here’ and she said in a matter-of-factly‘that’s what you think.’ I promptly got the fu*k out of there.” – HeatherTakasaki
28. Eyes Wide Open
“I work in palliative. Most deaths I’ve seen have been more or less peaceful, though the ones that are not, stick with you. One guy was silently screaming through his last few hours of life. Another guy (who up until this point had been unresponsive) reached up and grabbed me when we attempted to lower his bed to turn him.
One time while doing post-mortem care I walked into the room and thought ‘that’s weird, how come nobody has closed his eyes yet?’ He had that movie-perfect dead look, with pale blue staring eyes and slack jaw and greyish, waxy skin. I closed his eyes and started the care, and when I looked again those eyes, still staring at me, were slowly opening, one slightly slower than the other. He groaned when we turned him to wash his back and his hand managed to clamp onto the bed rail and we had to pry it off. When we finally got him onto his back again, there was a foul-smelling, oily black, viscous liquid on the pillowcase. I cleaned his mouth again thinking it must have come from there, but his mouth and nose were clean. The best I could figure the stuff had come from his eye. I couldn’t wait to get that bag zipped up.” – draakons_pryde
29. Crawling up the Hallway
“I used to work as an STNA in a nursing home. Worked third shift throughout university. During the night we turned half the lights off so it was darker for the evening and didn’t get a lot of light in the residents’ rooms. We had one resident who was younger (70s) and was mostly in for mental reasons. She had long, dark hair and was very thin.
I was sitting at the nurse’s station at the top of the hall and heard a call light go off. I stood up, looked down the dark hall, and on all fours—straight out of The Ring—this resident was crawling up the hall toward me. The other STNA had forgotten to put the bed rail up and the resident was VERY good at climbing out of bed.
Needless to say, I needed some new britches and my heart was racing a mile a minute.” – blameitonthewookie
“Had a young woman in full liver failure. She was orange in color and she was still conscious. She asked me what I thought it would be like to die. I told her I didn’t know but I hoped it wouldn’t be painful. She then asked me if I thought I would go to heaven. I told her that I believed I would. She asked me if I thought she would go to heaven, and I told her I wasn’t able to answer that question.
She then told me ‘I am going to heaven and I know it,’ and I asked her how she knew that and she told me something that I will never ever forget. She told me ‘I know I am because that man over there told me so.’ I asked what man and she said the man sitting on the end of the bench. I asked her what he looked like and she said ‘he looks just like the Jesus on the windows of my church.’
Well, to tell you I was pretty well affected by that statement. She then went on to say ‘And he says that you are going to go to heaven too.’
We then prayed and I will never forget that interaction between the two of us. About a week later she passed away. I hope she made it to heaven.” – Anonymous
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