I Asked ER Workers To Tell Me The Shocking Things They're Totally Used To Now And The Answers Are Wild

Warning: This post contains discussion of violence and sexual assault.

I recently asked the doctors, nurses, and other ER workers of the BuzzFeed Community to share some of the things that you and I would probably find pretty wild, but they've gotten used to.

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Here are some of their replies:

1."Accepting verbal and physical abuse from patients and families. We are discouraged (but not prevented) from pressing charges. It's a culture of brushing it off and sucking it up."


2."I’m a nurse on an acute medicine floor and am constantly getting flack from patients and family members having to wait for a cup of water or to use the bedpan. The abuse is from things out of our control as nurses. Yeah, it sucks you have to wait while we do shift change but it’s a crucial part of the shift to ensure patient safety. I’ve gotten a serious concussion from an Alzheimer’s patient that left me off work for three weeks, and was told by my boss to 'let it go.' I have brain damage from it now. I can’t focus and get overwhelmed easily."

Sarah Carmichael

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3."As others have mentioned, the abuse. The look on some patients' faces when you shut them down. Yes, I will take care of you but I will not be spoken to in that manner, people think because we are caregivers that we have such compassion that we will just take the abuse. No we are humans, please treat us as such. Also, Sometimes you really have to turn off your niceness to take care of people or you will be taken advantage of by patients who think you are their servant."


4."The terrible things people do to each other. Shootings, stabbings, burns, sexual assault, throwing from moving vehicles. We see the results of the worst of humanity at times and never know if the victims will get justice or if the perpetrator was caught. And then we move on with our day."


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5."Nudity. Some people are still very shy about that sort of thing, but it’s such a common thing in the medical field that it really does not faze anymore."


6."How many men expose themselves to me after I’ve repeatedly told them I don’t need to see their junk — the doctor will. It has to be in the hundreds by now."


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7."Literally seeing genitals every day. Some of them have gross stuff going on. It’s not even a thing. My spouse is flabbergasted about the nonchalance."


8."80% of patients coming in daily have no real reason for being in an emergency room. They will wait hours to see a physician for a three-minute chat before being sent home."

"Think things like fever for under 12 hours in an otherwise healthy person, nasal congestion, bug bites, a rash with no other symptoms, three episodes of vomiting, and tiny abrasions that just need a bandaid." —naomis16

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9."A lot of people are on a lot of medications. My 20–30-something able-bodied friends tend to think taking two different pills a day is a lot... It's not unusual to see people with 10+ different meds."


10."Telling family members their loved one has died. The sound of the screams, watching them hit the floor in anguish. Being able to move on to the next patient as if nothing happened."

"Us nurses and doctors may need therapy." —ar5112

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11."Smells. Body odor, breath, vomit, blood, infected wounds, poop, urine, you name it. We can have a patient with all of the above and immediately go to lunch right after. When I first became a nurse it was difficult not to gag, but now it doesn’t phase me."


12."People who really, really don’t take care of themselves. Sometimes they can’t, sometimes they don’t, and it's always heartbreaking. But I’ve stopped being shocked at the state people will come in. Gaping holes in their bodies, covered in filth, emaciated, or deathly obese. Nothing shocks me anymore."


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13."I’m not a doctor or nurse but I used to be a housekeeper in the ER for a while. We had to clean up the aftermath of all sorts of things, including when they rushed a patient in and gave emergency care. Whenever the patient doesn't make it, they don’t immediately wheel the body away. They will be zipped up in a body bag, laying there on the gurney."

"Sometimes we could wait to clean it up, but it depended on what the situation was. If there’s blood or any other bodily fluid then you have to clean it right away. So I would have to clean rooms sometimes while the person is laying there dead in a bag. I have always been someone that tends to be more emotionally detached from things, so I don’t think it affected me the first time the way it might have someone else, but it still felt heavy, surreal, and just weird. But it quickly became just another thing and I didn’t really think about it." —guacward

14."I was an EMT and literally my very first call was CPR, which was unsuccessful. It was awful. Unfortunately, it became the norm in every shift."


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15."Seeing the worst from humanity and then just going to lunch after or going home."


16."Death. Normal people don’t watch people die. They don’t crack their ribs. They don’t look into their eyes while doing CPR. They don’t feel their cold pale skin. They don’t see the bloody traumas. They don’t hear the screams and cries of loved ones. They don’t know what it’s like to zip a body bag and then move on with your day as if everything is normal."

"Also, the beeping." —krystalw4fe00ea7c

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Answers have been edited for length and clarity.