Embarrassing Medical Exams

We all receive forwarded items from friends via email. Sometimes they involve serious subjects that the sender thinks we need to know about, or to further a personal cause, and on occasion, they are offered just for the pure fun of it. Although what we think is funny can vary as much as any other individual difference, I think comedy tends to be more universal, and I post the following in that spirit.

The original of this email included the names of actual health care professionals who supposedly submitted examples of embarrassing medical exams. Few patients schedule appointments with doctors for the fun of it, and to learn that physicians can end up on the receiving end of awkwardness makes reading these testimonials worth the time. Here goes:

1. A man rushes into the ER and yells, “My wife’s going to have her baby in a cab!” I grab my stuff, rush out to the cab, lift the lady’s dress and begin to take off her underwear.  Suddenly I notice that there are several cabs . . . and I’m in the wrong one.

2. At the beginning of my shift, I place a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient’s anterior chest wall. “Big breaths,” I instruct. “Yes, they used to be,” replies the patient.

3. One day I have to be the bearer of bad news when I tell a wife that her husband has died of a massive myocardial infarct. Not more than five minutes later, I hear her reporting to the rest of the family that he has died of a “massive internal fart.”

4. During a patient’s two week follow-up appointment with me, his cardiologist, he mentions that he’s having trouble with one of his medications. “Which one?” I ask.  He replies, “The patch. Your nurse told me to put on a new one every six hours and now I’m running out of places to put them.” I have him quickly undress and discover what I hope I wouldn’t see: the man has over fifty patches on his body. Apparently, the nurse failed to point out that the instructions clearly state to remove the old patch before applying a new one.

5. While acquainting myself with a new elderly patient, I ask, “How long have you been bedridden?” After a look of complete confusion she answers, “Why, not for about twenty years, when my husband was still alive.”

6. I’m performing rounds at the hospital one morning and while checking up on a man, I ask, “How’s your breakfast this morning?”  He replies, “It’s very good except for the Kentucky Jelly. I can’t seem to get used to the taste.” I then ask to see the jelly, and the patient produces a foil packet labeled “KY Jelly.”

7. A young woman with purple hair styled into a punk rocker Mohawk, sporting a variety of tattoos and wearing strange clothing, enters the emergency room. We quickly determine that she has acute appendicitis, so we schedule her for immediate surgery. When she’s completely disrobed and on the operating table, we notice that her pubic hair has been dyed green and above it is a tattoo that reads, “Keep off the grass.” Once the surgery was completed, I write a short note on the patient’s dressing, which says “Sorry. We had to mow the lawn.”

8. As a new MD doing his residency in OB, I was quite embarrassed when performing female pelvic exams. To cover my unease, I unconsciously formed a habit of whistling softly. On one occasion, a middle-aged lady upon whom I am performing an exam suddenly bursts out laughing. I look up from my work and sheepishly say, “I’m sorry. Was I tickling you?” With tears running down her cheeks from laughing so hard, she replies, “Not at all, Doctor. But you were whistling ‘I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Wiener’. In the future, you might want to change that tune.”

9. A woman and a baby are in the examining room, waiting for me to come in for the baby’s first exam. I arrive in a rush, as usual, and examine the baby, check his weight, and being a little concerned, ask if the baby is being breast-fed or bottle-fed.  “Breast-fed,” the woman replies. “Strip down to your waist,” I say.  She does. I pinch her nipples, press, knead, and rub both her breasts for a while in a very professional and detailed examination. Motioning to her to get dressed, I say, “No wonder this baby is underweight. You don’t have any milk.” The woman smiles and says, “I know. I’m his Grandma. But I’m glad I came.”

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