Doctors Share The One Mistake That Changed Their Careers.

"We are products of our past, but we don't have to be prisoners of it." - Rick Warren

Doctors of reddit were asked about the biggest mistakes of their medical careers. These are some of their best answers.


As a very young doctor in training I misdiagnosed a woman with epilepsy. Some years prior she had sustained a gunshot wound to the frontal area, damaging the underside of one of her frontal lobes and severing an optic nerve to one of her eyes, as well as some of the muscles that rotated that eyeball. Surgery saved her life but the frontal lobe was scarred and the eye was blinded and always pointed down and at an angle away from her nose.

A few years after that she began having spells of a bizarre sensation, altered awareness, a pounding in the chest, and she had to sit down, stop what she was doing, and couldn't speak. These were odd spells and I assumed she had developed frontal lobe epilepsy from the scar on her brain. Increasing doses of anti-seizure drugs seemed to work initially, but then the spells came back.

A couple years after my diagnosis her endocrinologist, who treated her for diabetes mellitus, checked a thyroid. It was super-high. The spells were manifestations of hyperthyroidism. She drank the radioactive iodine cocktail which ablated her thyroid, got on thyroid replacement therapy, and felt well thereafter. No permanent harm done and she was able to come off the anti epilepsy drugs.

She was obese - not the typical skinny hyperthyroid patient - and if she developed thyroid eye disease, I couldn't tell because her one eye was already so messed up. I see how I screwed it up. but in retrospect I have never been sure what I could have done differently, except test her thyroid at the outset of treatment. Hence, a lot of patients - thousands - have had their thyroid checked by me since then. Every so often I pick up an abnormality and it gets treated.

The lady was an employee of the hospital where I trained and I ran into her one day; she gave me a hug and let me know how this had all gone down. She made a point of wanting me to know she didn't blame me "because I always seemed to care about her and what happened to her."

I think about her, and how I screwed up her diagnosis and set back her care, almost every day. I am a much better diagnostician now but I always remember this case and it reminds me not to get cocky or be too sure that my working diagnosis is correct.

brainotron 

Pathologist here. Biggest mistake I ever made was cutting myself during an autopsy on an HIV patient. Lucky for me, I did not acquire the virus.

Registered nurse here: I was taking care of a man with liver failure who was not a candidate for a transplant. He "waxed and waned" meaning he vacillated between complete brain function and confusion. I brought him his pills and made some small talk. We chatted a little bit before I handed him a cup to drink from on his bedside table. He tossed the pills in his mouth and took a gulp from the cup. He looked at me and said "that's piss" in a really matter of fact way. I checked the cup. It was. While he was confused he must have gone in the cup instead of his urinal and then forgotten about it. Now I always check before handing people cups from their bedside tables.

nae32

My mom just retired as an ob/gyn and she told me about a time early on in her career when, while not a real medical mistake, she still almost ruined the operation. She was performing a c-section I think, and she dropped her scalpel on the floor. Before she could think, she blurted out "oh crap" as a reaction. The mother, thinking something was wrong with the baby, started panicking. It took a team of nurses, the husband, and the mother of the patient to calm her down.

monstercello

I'm a nurse, but I was working in the ER when a guy came in for a scratch on his neck and "feeling drowsy". We start the usual workups and this dude's blood pressure TANKED. We scrambled, but he was dead within 10 minutes of walking through the door. Turns out the "scratch" was an exit wound of a .22 caliber rifle round. The guy didn't even know he'd been shot. When the coroner's report came back, we found that he'd been shot in the leg and the bullet tracked through his torso shredding everything in between. There was really nothing we could've done, but that was a serious "what the heck just happened" moment.

pause_and_consider

My grandmother has had diabetes for about 20 years, and takes a handful of meds to help control it. About 10 years ago, she developed a persistent cough. It wasn't bad, she said it felt like a constant tickle in the back of her throat.

She went to her doctor to find out what was going on, and he ordered a battery of tests concerned that she was developing pneumonia, lung cancer, etc. All the tests came back negative, so he prescribed a cocktail of pills to help combat it. Over the span of 5 years, she had tried about 35 different meds and none helped.

One day when she went it for a routine check-up, her normal doc was out and she saw one of the on-call residents. He looked at the barrage of pills she was on and asked why. When she explained, he replied, "Oh, the cough is a side effect of this one particular drug you're on to regulate your insulin. If we change you to this other one, it will go away."

silence1545



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My first week of my intern year (year one outside of medical school, when you're on call overnight and all that, AKA "Season One of Scrubs"), everyone "signs out" their team's patients to the doctor on call overnight. So that doctor (intern, with an upper-level resident also present overnight to supervise) is covering many patients they hardly know, maybe 60 or more. The situation was that a patient with dementia, unable to really communicate with people and clearly 'not there' but conscious, arrived from a nursing home with I think some agitation as the original complaint.

Basic labs ordered in the ER show the kidney function is worse than usual, which could be due to many things, but what really MUST be distinguished is between 'not enough blood pumped forward to the kidneys and rest of the body' (e.g. heart is failing and it's backing up into the lungs) VS 'not enough liquid in the blood TO flow' (e.g. due to vomiting a lot or something). This is critical to distinguish because for the first you give medicine to make them pee out the extra liquid, and in the second you give more fluid. Either treatment for the opposite problem is catastrophic. Fortunately it's usually easy to distinguish 'wet' from 'dry', based on listening to heart and lungs, chest x-ray (is there 'congestion' evidence?), blood pressure and heart rate (tend to drop BP and raise heart rate upon going from laying down to standing positions if you're too 'dry'), looking at neck veins while sitting up at an angle (they bulge if too 'wet'), and so on. This patient was unable to cooperate with exam, answer questions, and the X-ray was sort of borderline (unchanged from the last x-ray maybe several weeks ago). My resident instructed me to sign out the patient with instructions to continue a 500mL saline inflow, then re-assess to see whether the patient looked more 'wet' or less 'dry'. I signed this out, and forgot to make the order to stop the saline after 500mL, so it ended up running slowly in all night. The intern on call (also first week as doctor) forgot to re-assess at all or shut off the saline if it had been noticed because so busy with new admissions. We'd also ordered 3 sets of 'heart enzymes' meant to diagnose a heart attack, one reason for a patient suddenly getting 'wet' (i.e. heart pump failure), since the EKG was not interpretable (had a pacemaker which makes it impossible to tell). Lab messed up too, because hospital policy was that if the first set of 'heart enzymes' was negative, apparently the 2nd and 3rd sets, each traditionally spaced 6-8hrs later to catch a heart attack if it starts to evolve and become detectable by blood test, were both cancelled.

I came in and first thing in the morning checked on this patient, who was screaming things nobody could understand and the nurses had chalked up to dementia and agitation. I checked the labs and saw the second and third heart enzymes hadn't been done. I went to the bedside and saw the IV fluids still running. I immediately ran to the overnight intern, who said things had been so busy and nobody had called to notify that things were wrong. We stopped the fluids, immediately got a heart enzyme test, learned this patient was by now having a massive heart attack made much worse by the addition of IV fluids all night to this frail failing pump. I can't get the screams out of my head, and cried a lot and was pretty depressed for a few weeks at least after this. The patient died because the status ended up being decided as not to resuscitate based on what the nursing home had on file, although no family members were known at all. This patient was totally alone, and spent the last night of their life in physician-induced agony. But I acknowledge the failure of two interns, the nurses, and the lab. Ultimately the blame fell on the lab and I think someone was fired, but I made clear to everyone that I felt to blame and wanted quality improvements made to prevent future errors, or at least catch them early if they happen. That's I think the best you can do when you make a mistake.

There's a Scrubs episode where as I recall at the end there's a brief scene where the ghosts of dead patients representing medical errors follow around the physicians like little trains. It's very poignant, but I can't find the clip. That's what it's like though.

43W1n

I missed a gunshot wound once. A guy was dumped off at the ER covered in blood after a rap concert. We were all focused on a gunshot wound with an arterial bleed that was distracting. The nurse placed the blood pressure cuff over the gun shot wound on the arm. We all missed it because the blood pressure cuff slowed the bleeding.

I was doing the secondary assessment when we rolled the patient, and I still missed it.

We didn't find it till the chest x-ray. The bullet came of rest in the posterior portion of the thoracic wall without significant trauma to major organs.

The patient lived. But I still feel like I screwed up big time.

disposable_h3r0

Once as a tired medical resident I was called to the ER to admit someone at like 3am. This patient had a gall bladder removal a week ago and now had a surgical-site wound infection. I asked if they'd taken their post-op antibiotics they were prescribed, and they weren't sure. I was getting more and more frustrated with this person preventing my sleep when I decided to use a "pregnant pause" interview technique, and just shut up. This usually results in either awkward silence and the patient saying "uhh what the heck doc" or awkward silence followed by some useful deep revelation.

In this case the guy hung his head low, looked at his feet through unfocused eyes, started to sniffle while his halting voice cracked "I can't read. Never could. Didn't know the instructions they wrote down for me and didn't know I had medicine to buy. I didn't ask them because I was embarrassed."

Illiteracy haunts rural and urban places in most countries. Those folks aren't reading this, and they depend on our patience and understanding, and acceptance, to detect and bridge that vast communication gap. That's what stuck with me.

43W1n

When my dad was a resident he had a guy come in with a gun shot wound to the shoulder. The guy had been caught with another man's wife and had been shot while running away naked. In addition to the shoulder, the patient kept saying he had been shot in the gut. Dad searched all over and couldn't find a wound. But the guy kept complaining about excruciating pain in his lower abdomen. X-ray revealed that, indeed, there was a bullet in the abdomen. Took a while to find, but my dad finally found the entry wound... The guy had been shot directly in the butt hole. Swish.

A few years ago, I saw something very similar on ER. Guess if enough people get shot, there are bound to be a few one-in-a-million shots.

jjbutts 



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Not a big mistake but definitely awkward at the time. I was gluing up a lac on a 14yo girl's forehead. Anyone who has used dermabond before knows that stuff can be runny and bonds very quickly. I glued my glove to her face. Her mum was in the room, and I had to turn to her and say "I'm sorry, I've just glued my glove to her face"

pikto 

Dentist here. I was performing a simple extraction and preparing for the case when I didn't realize that I had the xray flipped the wrong way the whole time. I was viewing the film backwards, and pulled out the wrong tooth. When I realized my mistake I started freaking out, only to find out that by some dumb luck, the tooth I extracted had to go as well.

For the record, this happened in dental school, so safe to say it was a learning experience. It was my first and very last time to make that mistake.

YoureOnlyLameOnce

As an ICU nurse, I've seen the decisions of some Doctors result in death. Families often times don't know, but it happens more than you'd think. It usually happens on very sick patients that ultimately would have died within 6 months or so anyway, though.

Procedural-wise, I have seen a physician kill a patient by puncturing their heart while placing a pleural chest tube. It was basically a freak thing as apparently the patient had recently had cardiothoracic surgery and the heart adhered within the cavity at an odd position. I'll never forget the look on his face when he came to the realization of what had happened. You rarely see people accidentally kill someone in such a direct way. Heartbreaking.

pound-town

My first day as a camp nurse for people with intellectual disabilities I gave 9 pills to the wrong guest. I didn't know who I was looking for and asked my friend to send out the guest. His hypochondriac roommate walks out, tells me he is the person I'm looking for, I asked my friend for confirmation who THOUGHT the correct person had come to me and confirmed from afar that it was, and I administered the meds. He had a LOT of drug allergies. Stomach dropped when the actual person I was looking for came out 12 seconds later.

Luckily, we called poison control and most of the pills were vitamins and the ones that weren't were either similar to ones the guy was already taking, or in therapeutic low-dose form. He was fine and still continued to ask for everyone else's pills at all times.

Worked there two summers and thankfully had no other disasters like this one.

ironmaven 

I had a 9 year old girl brought in one night with her parents complaining of fever and respiratory distress, presenting with coughing and wheezing. The kid was really out of it and the parents were very upset. I thought it was Bronchitis, but I admitted her and ordered treatment for her fever and cough as well as throat cultures.

I was with another patient when the kid started hallucinating, sobbing and spewing everywhere. I figured it had to do with the fever, so I packed her with ice, but she died maybe a half hour after that. This wasn't my first death, but it was one of the worst. I couldn't tell the stiff neck since the kid was out of it. She also couldn't tell me anything else that would point to simple or complex seizures.

She died of neisseria meningitidis. Completely wrong diagnosis. To make matters worse, we called in all her school mates and anyone else we could wake up just in time to see three other kids go. The rest got antibiotics quickly enough.

Probably my worst day in medicine.

dr_harshaw


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My brother is a surgeon, and during part of his residency, he had to work in the pediatric unit. He was working with two newborns. One was getting much better and fighting for life. He was going to make it just fine. The other baby was hours from death. He wasn't going to make it. My brother was in charge of informing the families. My brother realized about 15 minutes later that he had mixed up the families. He told the family with the healthy baby that their baby wasn't going to make it, and he told the family with the dying baby that their baby was going to be just fine. He then had to go back out to the families and explain the situation to them. How devastating. To be given a glimmer or hope and have it ripped away from you not even an hour later. That was most upset I've heard my brother. He felt destroyed.

AndromedaStain

Although I am a doctor, this was NOT me but another doctor I know.

A patient had gone in for surgery on their right knee. The surgeon did surgery and everything was fine except he did the surgery on the wrong knee. Fast forward a few days and the patient returned for surgery on the correct knee. The surgeon did surgery on the patient's knee and forgot a sponge in the knee. The wrong knee, once again.

altiif

I worked in a digestive health clinic for a year or so to build up my med school application. I was a gastroenterology tech and obviously worked with many doctors, including my dads doctor (father has crohns). He preceded to tell me about an incident with one of the doctors that I worked with everyday. Apparently he was performing a colonoscopy on a woman and accidentally went into the wrong orifice. These colonoscopes are hooked up to video screens and air/h20 supplies so the doctor can inflate the colon with air so he can have a better look at the lumen of the colon. Apparently this doctor mistook the cervix for cancer and preceded to take multiple biopsies of it. He also put so much air in her that both of her fallopian tubes ruptured and she had to have an exploratory laparotomy. Man his face must have been red.

When I was a new paramedic, we were called to a house for an unknown problem. We arrived and found our patient unresponsive but breathing on a bed. A friend of his found him after he hadn't returned his phone calls- they were going out to do something that day, and he found it weird that the guy hadn't called him yet, so he had gone to his house to investigate. The patient didn't have any pill bottles laying around, and his friend didn't know anything about the patient's medical history. So, I loaded him up into the ambulance and started transporting to the hospital. Started an IV, did an ECG, drew blood work, the whole work up. Get him to the hospital, and the first thing the nurse asked was "what was his blood sugar level?" Oops. Forgot to check it. Turns out, it was incredibly low- which is completely treatable, and probably wouldn't have required transporting him to the hospital if corrected on scene. Every patient gets a blood sugar check now.

Yourenotgoingtodie

I do HIV testing and once I showed up to work super tired because I couldn't sleep the night before. This guy comes in for a test, we go through the pre-counseling and then I tell him to step out for a few minutes while the results come up. Once he comes back to get his results, I tell him to take a sit and the first thing that came out of my mouth was "Your results are positive" and then I saw the look on his face and that's when I realized I screwed up. I then said" Oh no no no, I meant to say negative." I almost gave the guy a heart attack.

hatemachine01

This isn't so much a medical error, but a time I feel that I failed my patient. I was on my first clinical rotation in a rural Emergency Room, and a woman came in with a miscarriage, her second one. While we were talking she mentioned she was new to town, didn't know anyone, and her husband was away for the weekend. When we told her the diagnosis, her eyes became teary, and then we left to make arrangements. The doc didn't say he was sorry for her loss or comfort her in any way, which I instinctively wanted to do.

When I went back to her room to give her appointment time, she was in pieces. It really gets me. The five seconds it would have taken me to say those words, put a hand on her shoulder, call someone, or just offer some tissues, ugh anything but I didn't do it. Instead I let my fear of not knowing if I would be showing too much emotion or slowing down the doc, stop me from being human. The silver lining is now I do what my gut tells me. I've soothed babies from exhausted parents, picked up crying family members off the floor, and even discussed comic book heroes with kids getting stitches because that's the kind of person I am, and doctor I want to become.

2_hertz


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I'll tell two stories - a funny one, and a non-funny one.

I was working as a pre-registration pharmacist in a community pharmacy based in a supermarket. A boy and a girl come in, nervous as hell, and step up to the counter. They're teenagers, probably 17-18 or so (in the UK age of consent is 16).

The boy asks "Can I have some condoms, please?"

I'm serving, and we keep the condoms at the counter. They come in packs of threes, tens, and twenties. So I smile, try to be reassuring, but I need to know what they want.

"Sure," I say. "What size?"

The boy turns bright red, but his girlfriend nudges him. He starts estimating with his hands. "Uh... about...this long?"

The second story I'll never forget. I was in a cancer clinic doing follow-ups. I'd just messed up a drug choice (I was under supervision, so it was fine), and wanted to try and ask something smart to the oncologist. So we're in a consultation with a woman who'd had a mastectomy, and I asked the probability of recurrence of the cancer.

Crap, that was stupid. Because the oncologist then had to answer, and probably be very conservative, and scare the crap out of the patient. That really destroyed me. I felt like a total jerk.

mrcchapman 

I'm a lab tech and used to work in Histology when I was new. I got a skin biopsy specimen and that day I was embedding, basically putting the fixed tissue into wax so it could be mounted on a cutting block to slice 3 micrometer sections for staining. It's very important what side you place "down", based on how it was cut out of the body. Well I messed up and placed it sideways instead of down. The person cutting the tissue couldn't tell and ended up cutting through the tissue. This was a problem because the patient had skin cancer and they were looking at how far it had spread. Since it was cut too deep they couldn't see the edges anymore. This means the doctor had to cut a bigger piece of skin off to be sure they got it all. That's when I found out it was a skin biopsy from the patient's nose. This patient had to have a bigger, potentially unnecessary, piece of skin from his face cut off because of me. I was horrified and learned my lesson that day on how important it is to be certain of embedding technique.

matdex

I'm a Cardiac Cath Lab Tech at another hospital, I've been in the medical field for almost 6 years. I was being cross trained into Computed Tomography recently and was thrown into my first night shift by myself after a quick month of training. I had a script I spoke every time I would hook someone up to our power injector for a contrast study (The weird stuff that makes you feel like you pee all over yourself). The injector I used in Cath lab is a HELL of a lot bigger and scarier than this little thing, but they are still dangerous as hell. I also don't worry about blowing IVs in cath lab since we normally go through a much tougher femoral or radial artery.

We do two test injections of saline, one by hand and one my the injector to make sure the IV is patent and will tolerate the injection. 99% of the time this works and everyone is hunky dory; if it blows now the body will simply absorb the saline and you might get a bruise so no big deal. This time however the IV blew RIGHT at the beginning of the Contrast injection (Your body CAN'T absorb contrast in this fashion) and the little pressure waveform on the injector remained "normal" looking. She didn't once cry out or scream as I injected 100cc of Iodinated contrast agent into her forearm and I only noticed something was off when I started my scan and saw ZERO contrast in her torso. I aborted the scan thinking the IV blew outside of the patient, walked into her quietly sobbing inside of the machine with an angry swollen arm about the diameter of a grapefruit. I pulled her out, wrapped a hot water soaked compress around her arm, held it over her head and rushed her back to the ER. I found out later she had to go to surgery for it and has long term nerve damage from the compartment syndrome she suffered. I've had people die on my table, I've been on a code team for my entire term in Cath. Lab ( I respond to Code Blue/ Cardiac Arrests) and see death and mutilation every day at my Level 1 Trauma hospital as the night tech. This one stuck with me since I felt I was directly responsible for it despite being cleared. It caused me to change my WHOLE approach when doing my contrast studies. I tell people to SCREAM bloody murder if their arm does more than burn now when I inject. Insult me, throw a shoe at my window, hit the big red EMERG button on the wall, anything so I don't disfigure someone again when my safeties fail and my machine lies to me. Sorry for the run-on, I'm tired after a 16 hour shift.

lljkotaru

16 years ago when I was a medic in the military. This one Marine who came in for Physical Therapy seemed overly depressed (more so than usual). He had bad nerve damage (amongst other injuries) where he could touch his leg and it felt like someone was touching him in the back.

I was more focused on the therapy that day and was excited he was making progress. He didn't seem happy about the progress and made a comment about how it won't matter. I also recalled when he left I said I would see him next week and he didn't say anything and just left.

He hung himself over the weekend. I still wonder if I had paid attention to his comments and not had dismissed them as him having a bad day maybe he'd still be alive? Then again mental health issues were still seen as a defect when I was in so would he even have accepted mental health treatment?

Sorry for rambling but I now pay attention to friends mood swings and signs of depression. Just wish I had done the same 16 years ago though.

JLR-

I am a nuclear medicine technologist working in a PET department. I deal mostly with cancer patients. Prior to exams, I'll ask the patients why they are having the test done and for any other vital information. One day, a female patient told me she found a lump, had a mammogram, a biopsy, and it turned out to be stage four invasive ductal breast cancer. Having confirmed the information I had on my sheet with the patient, I made the mistake of saying, "Sounds good." To which she replied, "No, it's actually pretty freaking terrible," and she broke down in tears. I will never say sounds good again when a patient tells me his or her diagnosis.

jlong4140


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If you work as a physician in any acute setting, don't dress up for Halloween. My supervising resident had to tell a family that their daughter had cancer while dressed as Cat in the Hat. (respectfully, he took off the hat.)

gracepar

While being a student I was left alone in a small hospital in the emergency department (this shouldn't happen). I admitted an older man with upper abdominal pain on the right side. Didn't seem serious at all after I talked to him, so I scheduled an ultrasound and called a surgeon to check the patient.Who agreed with my initial diagnosis. Everything was going fine until about 30 minutes later the patient suddenly died. We tried bringing him back but it had no effect. This happened a long time ago, but it still kills me every time I think about it. I'll never trust a simple upper abdominal pain again.

MrExxon

Not really a serious outcome but I'll never forget my first mistake as an EMT. Patient was in the back of the ambulance in a gurney, he required oxygen (he's human afterall) via cannula (little nose thingys). Normally the gurney O2 tank is much smaller than the house tank on the ambulance so we generally switch over the gurney to the ambulance tank. So basically there is now a small hose attached to the wall of the ambulance that feeds the patient delicious oxygen to his nose. This being my first time I forgot to switch back the hose to the gurney and upon removing the gurney from the back I essentially choked the crap out of his face when the hose tightened. Poor guy, he thought he did something wrong. I explained to him what happened and then he laughed about it. Found out later he still tried to sue. Ah well.

I was still a new EMT and had a new Paramedic as a partner. We got a call of a man with no pulse. We arrived and find a 350ish pound man in the middle of a water bed, no pulse. So the new Paramedic did a quick look with the paddles and decided to shock. The shock creates a muscle spasm and set off a series of events which led to the patient being wedged between the water bed mattress and frame. It was impossible for 2 of us to unwedge him, although there was a brief discussion of cutting the mattress and letting all the water out.

Never shock someone you can't lift, on a water bed.

Codeblue74

Med student here. A few years ago, when I was working as a medical assistant in an interventional pain management clinic, I was asked by the doctor to place a grounding pad (a sticky pad like they use for EKGs) on the patient's leg during a radiofrequency (RF) nerve ablation procedure. The patient had some lotion or something on her leg that was keeping the pad from sticking properly, but it seemed to be mostly well attached and I didn't want to hold up the procedure to get another pad or clean off the patient's leg. The pad ended up partially coming off right as the high-voltage RF was being applied, causing a small burn on her leg. There was no lasting damage done and the patient was very understanding, but I still felt horrible. It was the first time I had caused harm to a patient, and it could easily have been avoided had I just spoken up. Now I never hesitate to say something if I have even a slight feeling that something is off. Nothing is more important than a patient's well-being.

derpaturescience

I was a medic in Israel and most of the time I was on a special ambulance for extreme emergencies or dangerous runs. After an overnight shift with that one I overheard that one of the morning shift medics didn't show up for a regular ambulance so I offered to take his spot. Well I didn't realize at that moment that the driver and other medic were both very orthodox religious but when I did I said whatever and went with them. On the ambulance there's a hierarchy and in this one I was on the bottom rung mostly because I was only 18.

We get a call for an unconscious woman at a bus stop. We get there and it's a visibly homeless woman who's not breathing, has a very weak pulse, and a locked jaw. In this case you're supposed to break the jaw to open the airway but the other two refused to because they were men and she a woman and they physically stopped me from intervening beyond trying to tilt her head back. We watched her die and called the coroner and took off immediately after they arrived. I stopped working with them immediately after and went home. The next day I filled a complaint but it wasn't taken seriously other than I wasn't allowed to be on their ambulance again. I'll never forget that call.

SethLevy

Source 1.    Source 2.

Have you ever found yourself in an argument so stupid and/or pointless that you were sure you were being punked? Like you keep looking away from the other person to check your surroundings for places Ashton Kutcher and a camera crew could come popping out of?

You're not the only one.

u/Anti-hollowkid asked: What is the dumbest argument you've ever been in?

Brace yourselves, folks. Some of these arguments are breathtakingly bonkers. The sheer number of people who are willing to argue with someone over provable facts and what that other person likes or doesn't like is just ... stunning. It's stunning, you guys. Just not in a good way.

I Know What I Like

Giphy

My wife and I once argued over whether or not I liked mustard on my hot dog. I was for me liking mustard, she was against me liking mustard.

The argument lasted way longer that you could ever imagine it would.

- AardvarkAndy

A Stair Step

My brother and I argued if our staircase had 13 or 14 steps, based on an argument about if the floor of the second floor counts as a stair-step or not. We still have no solution.

- RazerWolf04

My dad is a stairbuilder and I spent many summers working at his warehouse, so I can clear this up. 14.

- Apples9308

Saturdays

My husband and I have this thing where we only say "I love you" on Saturdays. Every other day it's "I love you, but only on Saturdays." I don't know how it started, but it's been going for 11 years now.

We're both shiftworkers, so sometimes we have to stop and think what day it actually is. We had an argument recently over whether it was Saturday or not. I said it was Saturday, he said it was Friday. It was Monday.

- FormalMango

Iraq

I remember when I was about 13 my parents had an hour-long shouting match that ended with them almost getting divorced. The issue? Whether or not the nation of Iraq has a coastline.

My mother arguing that Iraq had a coastline, while my stepdad argued that it did not. This was back in 2004, and they are still quite happily married to this day. That incident is something they look back on and laugh about, and both of them admit it was really a pretty stupid thing to argue over.

- dontcryformegiratina

$40

With an ex:

"I owe you $80 for the bills of ours that you pay, and you owe me $40 for the bills of ours that I paid. Here's $40 in cash; we're even."

She did not understand this.

I literally had to go get another $40 out of the ATM, and hand the $80 to her. Then I had her hand me the $40 she owed me.

"Now how much do you have in your hand?"

She still didn't understand.

She somehow has a college degree.

- Speedly

Mini Wheats

When we were kids my brother and I got in a physical fight because he said I like mini wheats and I insisted I didn't. His argument was that I always sang the mini wheats song and I was deeply offended that he wasn't aware that it was just stuck in my head but I hated the cereal. I actually did like the cereal I'm not sure why I was arguing with him about it but I remember how genuinely angry I was.

- shicole3

Crayons

Giphy

I'll tell you about the only legal trouble I've ever been in, the fight that got me arrested. It started over whether we should return a box of crayons or not, and to this day I don't have any idea how it escalated to the point of the cops being called, but they were and I was the one taken in.

- CorrectionalChard

That's Unfair

My boyfriend insisted that when two people are in an argument and one makes a point so reasonable and logical the other one can't disagree with it - it's unfair. I tried, logically and reasonably, to explain several times why that is just winning the argument, proving your point thoroughly and is completely fair.

His answer was that I was being unfair.

- ShyAcorn

Pure Masochism

How the ch in masochism is pronounced. My friend caught me saying "masoKism" while he would say "masoSYism."

To be fair, he grew up speaking French, in which the ch in masochism is pronounced in "his" way. But he insisted that I was the wrong one here and that was just infuriating.

- argofire

Emailing NASA

A woman was adamant that looking at the big solar eclipse on the television was unsafe unless you were wearing glasses. She wouldn't believe us and insisted on emailing NASA to check.

- derawin07

A Non-Standard Ruler? 

I worked for a company that made signs. We had a customer ask for signs that were 7mm wide that were to go on a door. Our sign makers figured the order meant inches because 7mm is pretty small, so made them 7 inches. I got a phone call from the customer who went mad at me for making them the wrong size. So I put a reorder through for 7 mm.

Argued with the sign makers over it but they eventually agreed to do it after I shown them the order in writing. I even had the customer put her complaint in writing, reiterating the size they wanted.

7mm signs went out and a day later I get the customer on the phone literally screaming at me.

Cue the dumb argument - we ended up having an argument over how big a millimetre is, and obviously everyone in the office were laughing, but this customer just wouldn't accept it and said we must be using a non-standard ruler to measure.

Ended up being escalating to the sales department manager who refused to issue a refund. We still don't know what they actually meant.

- Lovelocke

This Unusual Vegan Argument

Was in a pub with a few friends, and some random Dude dropped an ear, and somehow figured I'm vegan. Well, people like him are the reason I usually avoid mentioning it. He came up to me and insisted on starting a discussion about veganism. He claimed that by the end of it, I would be eating meat again.

He listed some stupid arguments, I told him I was not convinced and then tried to keep on drinking beer with my friends. He followed me, and wanted me to "try to convert him to a vegan." I stupidly listed some of my reasons thinking it would make him go away. He told me he still was not convinced, so I was like whatever. Again, I really just wanted to drink beer with my friends.

That dude followed me all night and expected me to try make him vegan. Doesn't matter what I said, and all the reasons that for me are obviously good enough to be vegan. He'd be just like "No, that doesn't convince me, therefore your argument and how you life is stupid."

Didn't matter how often I told him that I honestly don't care; 5 minutes later he would come up to me again "I'm still not vegan, so veganism is stupid, all your arguments were stupid, now give me a good reason to become vegan!" At one point, I was literally yelling at him that I don't give a single flying f about what he eats and why, that it's in no way my responsibility to "turn somebody vegan" and in no way his business what I eat.

Honestly, for that dude, I would have bought a whole ham, just to shove it up his stupid annoying face.

- onlytruebertos

Monty Python

In college my roommate and I argued about a line in Monty Python & the Holy Grail. The scene with the Black Knight where the line "Alright, we'll call it a draw" is uttered. We argued about who said that line, whether it was King Arthur or the Black Knight.

It went on for hours longer than it should have because I was stubborn and refused to admit I was wrong.

- Skrivus

Albert or Arnold

Giphy

Whether Albert Einstein or Arnold Schwarzenegger would be more useful to have around during a Zombie apocalypse. How on earth would Albert Einstein come in handy!?

- Gerrard1995

Below Sea Level

I live on an island and when you go upland and you look out the sea looks like it's higher than or on the same level as the land. It's just a weird perspective thing because of the horizon. One day some kid says that it's because the island is under sea level.


I'm like wtf bro all of us would be with the fishes. He argues that no that's not true and if I just go upland I'll see. We then spend a good 5 minutes of my time arguing about it until I decided to leave this kid in his stupidity. He even said we shouldn't believe everything adults tell us and sometimes we need to think for ourselves.

This kid was older than me and was going to a good school. Lost my respect for him ever since then.

- -justforclout-

Tomash

Someone tried to fight with me over how to spell my name.

Now, my name is in a lot of languages with slightly different spellings. I would have accepted any of those spellings, but this one was just... Not even close. It didn't make any logical sense.


An analogous example is if my name was Thomas and someone was insisting it was spelled Tomash. And not just the name Thomas in general, but that me specifically, on my birth certificate, was named Tomash. I know how to spell my own name.

I swear to god, it went on for like an hour.

- TK-DuVeraun

Whales Are Mammals

I was in an online chat room one day, and we were talking about whales. I commented on how whales are mammals and the next thing you know, someone was arguing with me and trying to convince me that a whale was a fish.

- kawaii_psycho451

Microwaves

Stupid microwaves. Having a man child talk down to me about how microwaves work only for him to google it and prove me right. He slept on the sofa that night.

- sun_phobic

Shower Schedule

My friend keeps telling me that the norm is that a person should shower once a week. This has been going on for years. I'm almost convinced he's trolling me.

- LibrarianGovernment

No Balloons For Grandma

My cousin and I argued over a balloon going to Heaven. We were at his big sisters prom send off and he let a balloon go and it went high into the sky.

He then said this balloon will go up past space and go to Heaven and reach grandma (God rest her soul). And I was like no it's not and it's probably not even gonna reach space. Releasing balloons is terrible for the environment and kills/harms so much wildlife.

He got really mad and defensive and started telling me to google it and do my research and I'm like I don't have to google it you idiot. He was mad at me for a good week.

- Dskee02

Spontaneous Dolphin Existence

Giphy

How dolphins reproduced. It took me a few solid minutes of explaining to her that dolphins have reproductive organs and that they did not just pop into existence. The argument began with her saying she wanted to work with sea creatures.

Personally, I hope she was messing with me cause I lost a little faith in humanity that day.

- thebeststory

Male Chickens

I repeatedly had the argument with a friend over whether roosters were chickens. She was convinced that only the females were chickens (hens). We were 18 at the time.

- bee_zah

Lightning McQueen

Me and my friend were drinking underage, we ended up in an argument of whether lightning McQueen's eyes were blue or green. Somehow throughout the whole thing both of us never thought to straight up google a picture.

- 23071115

But ... Ice Floats

Waiter/Host here.

Woman wanted ice on the bottom of her drink.

Now read that sentence again and try to imagine arguing with that particular brand of stupid.

- FarWoods

Time Zones Exist

Coworker claimed that it was the same time of day and the same season on the whole globe. Had to get 4 coworkers to confirm to him that time zones do in fact exist.

- JustARegularToaster

Colorblind

My brother is colorblind. And he CONSTANTLY tries to correct me on what color things are.

"Hey could you hand me that red _____?"

"that's orange"

"no, it's red"

"orange"

"YOU CANT EVEN KNOW"

It is the base of our most common and heated arguments.

- droneb2hive

Andre 2000?

Giphy

I'm late, but I saw this question and instantly remembered that I was booted from a Facebook group because I called someone out on a lie that was not only bull, but extremely pointless. She was friends with the moderator and they made the case that my argument over such a little lie was more of a problem than the lie itself (though they didn't refer to it as a lie.)


The woman said that she used to babysit for Andre 3000 and that his name was Andre 2000 - but he changed it after the year 2000 had passed. This was so easily disproven it was ridiculous. Their debut album came out in 1994 and he was already going by Andre 3000 at that time.

The argument wasn't a huge long drawn out thing, but the fact that either of us were on Facebook at separate times meant that the responses were over a long period of time so this argument lasted a few days.

It was stupid.

- P1ST0L_Wh1PP3D

Stars Like Our Sun

I was arguing with my grandpa about stars he didn't believe that there are other stars like our sun. Basically he thought there is only the sun, the moon and the earth.

fox_boi2

Richard Nixon

I have a degree in history. I mostly focused on nationalism. Wrote a 50 page paper on it and Richard Nixon with around 50 100 sources. Looked at micro film for hours on end. Part of the paper focused on how Nixon being chair of the house committee of Unamerican Activities was used as a powerful weapon to use against political enemies. It also inspired Joe McCarthy. Have had people tell me I was wrong and Nixon was never elected to a position besides the president and Joe McCarthy came before Nixon. I stopped trying to talk history to people.


I also know quite a bit about the history of the Balkans its amazing how many Serbs refuse to believe Tito did anything wrong.

Wrote 100 page paper on nationalism in Israel. Its frustrating to talk about because for some reason a lot of people think Palestinian firing rockets randomly into Israel is ok but if Israel retaliates the people get up in arms over a targeted air strike that kills 3 people.

grumblecakes1

Balloon to Heaven

My cousin and I argued over a balloon going to Heaven. We were at his big sisters prom send off and he let a balloon go and it went high into the sky. He then said this balloon will go up past space and go to Heaven and reach grandma (God rest her soul). And I was like no it's not and it's probably not even gonna reach space.

And he got really mad and defensive and started telling me to google it and do my research and I'm like I don't have to google it you idiot. He was mad at me for a good week.

Dskee02

Binder Clips

I got into an argument with a co-worker over how we were attaching two pages of a letter together: small binder clips or paper clips.

He felt that paper clips would leave a "dent" in the paper when removed, but binder clips won't. He refused to staple them together. I felt that binder clips would also leave a "dent", so we might as well just use the paper clips.

It ended with him saying: "Do what you want [me], I don't care!" and storming off.

justantherredditgirl

Jewish

Once got accused of faking being Jewish. Why? I have no clue. We argued over the course of a month, any time I'd bring it up and she heard about it, she'd begin going after me for "faking it".

My mother's side is ethnically Jewish. Grandparents were practicing.

Aslkurloz

Nutella

Giphy

3 friends and I once got into an argument about how to pronounce Nutella. It lasted for about 3-4 months. It was hilarious how serious we took it, it'd get heated but never for real serious.

I think someone even called the company that made it to check, or that may have been for the Cheetos company. We were really bored in high school.

vault_tec_redditor

Lingerie Boxes

Late to the party, but there it is.

I'm a manager at a small store. We're only 4 working there, so my team and I grew very close and we joke around a lot. Once during a slow shift, my employee and I had an argument because we were looking at the lingerie boxes, and I thought that two specific boxes had the same woman on it, but she was 100% positive they weren't the same person.

Looking back, I don't know why it was such a big deal to us at the time, but we even called another employee who lives across the street to come and tell us what the heck was up with that. Turns out I was right, and she was pretty salty about it. It was a great night.

Meh75

Wicked Witch of the West

I almost got into an argument with an old girlfriend over Glinda the good witch from Oz. She insisted that Glinda was manipulating Dorothy to assassinate the Wicked Witch of the West and convince the Wizard to leave to create a political void she could fill.

I conceded the issue when I heard the whole premise because I thought it was too damn stupid to get worked up over.

weirdatwork2017

Keep Your Hands to Yourself

Just the other day I legit got in an argument with my co-workers on why I don't like my butt being grabbed by anyone (I'm a guy). Seriously.

They went on about "I don't mind it. Mike and I do it all the time and we don't care." Yeah, that's nice dude, but I'm not you, and there's something called "Keep your hands to yourself" (which was taught to a good portion of us growing up). Just like how Karen wouldn't like it if I touched her boobs or her grabbing your crotch or frankly ANY area you wouldn't like being grabbed, keep away. In general, you should not be touching me in any areas after I've told you not to several times before.

So unless you're sleeping me or dating me, keep your damn hands off my toosh.

Frisby2007

Telekinesis

My best friend and I argued over whether or not telekinesis was possible. Her argument was that humans don't yet know what the human brain at 100% usage was capable of, and that telekinesis was inside the possibilities.

I said the brain does use 100%, just at different times.

We didn't speak to each other for four days.

dude_bizarro

Ghosts

How dolphins reproduced and whether or not ghost existed (back to back with the same person). It took me a few solid minutes of explaining to her that dolphins have reproductive organs and that they did not just pop into existence (the argument began with her saying she wanted to work with sea creatures).


How it shifted to the existence of ghosts is a solid and reasonable question to ask (I don't remember why). I had to then proceed to tell her that ghost hunting TV shows do not constitute as undeniable evidence.

Personally, I hope she was messing with me cause I lost a little faith in humanity that day. This was in high school SO... hopefully she was kidding.

thebeststory

Dogs and Chocolate

Giphy

I told this stupid woman that chocolate is toxic to dogs. She went on to tell me how a little bit will just make them hyper and then they will calm down. I told her to google it. Her and her bf shut right up. Now they have a kid. Good luck, Jeremy and Andrea. morons.

I should also add that this argument started because Jeremy was giving his tiny dog chocolate and I told him it was toxic.

KlutzyHedgehog

Is water wet?

My roommate and I have a recurring argument over whether or not water is wet l, and whether or not a person is considered wet underwater.

For the record, it is no to both questions.

SFCopperhead

Mission Trip

A kid a church telling me about the mission trip I went on. Not only was I not on that trip, but I had never been on any mission trip. We were good friends, so it's not like he would've mistaken someone else for me.

He insisted I was there as if an entire week long trip would just fall out of my memory. He even had stories of things we'd done together. I'm not sure if he thought I was lying, joking, stupid, or crazy, but I was pretty sure he was some combination thereof.

SirRogers

Dragon Tales

One time I got into a shouting match with my mom and little brother in the car. The issue? The names of the two-headed dragon from the PBS kids afternoon show Dragon Tales. I swore it was Zack and Macie.

It was actually Zak and Wheezie. I don't even remember why we were yelling about it.

MistalQueensglaive

Green Or Yellow?

When I was about 15 or so my mother and I spent about 20-30 minutes arguing about the color of a shirt. We agreed it was blue/green, but to me it was just a shade more blue, while to her it was just a bit more green.

Turns out, your eyeballs yellow as you age and hers were 24 years yellower than mine, so I think that skewed her color vision.

BugsRatty

Stars In Their Multitude

Giphy

I once got in an argument over whether or not a line from the song "Stars" in Les Mis says "...but mine is the way of the lord" or "mine is the way of the law".

I didn't even really care what he thought but he was so adamant and cocky that it got me heated. By the end of it we were shouting at each other and I had to apologize, which I think is what he wanted the whole time.

theedjman

Colorblind

My brother is colorblind. And he CONSTANTLY tries to correct me on what color things are.

"Hey could you hand me that red _____?" "that's orange" "no, it's red" "orange" "YOU CANT EVEN KNOW".

It is the base of our most common and heated arguments.

droneb2hive

Hot Water

About five years ago, my girlfriend (now wife) once had a very intense argument about whether or not hot water cleaned things better than cold water.

She genuinely believed that water temperature didn't matter. This is someone who has not one, but two masters degrees.

We argued for something like 2 hours, and we seriously almost broke up over the whole thing.

moniker5000

Biology Class

I had an argument with a girl IN THE MIDDLE OF A BIOLOGY CLASS in high school about how humans are not mammals. She thought a human was a human and we are not mammals because "mammals are animals and humans are not animals"

I tried explaining to her the difference between reptiles and mammals and how humans fall under the mammal category to try and educate her... but she just wouldn't listen.

I still have no idea why the BIOLOGY teacher did not get involved...

10d4plus8

Solid Or Liquid?

Some classmates and I got into a heated debate as to whether or not the human body could count as a soup, salad, or sandwich. The teacher got mad at us, but hey! All we were doing was watching a movie.

For the record, my logic lays with soup- Liquid contained within a solid, at a hot temperature.

ScreamingPotoo