Mr. Wayne


We had a well-known patient return for evaluation yesterday. He has some challenging complaints on previous visits. Looking through his history, below are some of the more memorable complaints. Yes, his name has been changed.

  • Touched compressor with petroleum on it. Touched same hand to mouth and got diarrhea. Wanted to know if he was poisoned.
  • Walking past janitor with open bottle of water, janitor jerked bucket and blue disinfectant splashed onto open water bottle. Thinks that disinfectant may have gotten into his water. Took one sip, didn’t taste anything. Took another sip thought it may have tasted like disinfectant. Called poison control which allegedly couldn’t tell him if he was poisoned or not. Wanted to be tested for disinfectant poisoning.
  • Aciphex taken 4 hours and 10 minutes too soon. Wants to know if he could have any bad effects from it.
  • Drank water out of styrofoam cup and had burning to the back of his throat. Drank water from several other styrofoam cups and still had burning to throat. Brought cups into be tested for poison. Sent home from ER. Seen in physician’s office following day and given nystatin rinses.
  • Purchased ham sandwich out of vending machine in basement of hospital. Had packet of mayonnaise wrapped inside, and put on sandwich, but thinks mayonnaise was warm and may have poisoned him.
  • Walked by nurse in hall who was shaking an IV bag to mix contents. Thinks that some of contents may have sprayed onto him and contaminated him.
  • Came to ER twice within 24 hours for nausea. Given GI cocktails on both occasions. Came back third time to ask if that was too much medicine to take in 24 hours.
  • Ate “soggy” hamburger at local restaurant because he was hungry. Came in late at night because he didn’t think he should have eaten hamburger when it was soggy.
  • Given glass of water in ER after given GI cocktail. Said it tasted like alcohol and wanted to know if we were poisoning him.
  • Opened piece of gum and began chewing it. Thought gum tasted like metal. Came in to see if he swallowed tin foil.
  • Ate can of Campbell’s soup that tasted too “tangy.” Came in two weeks later for eating another can of Campbell’s soup that tasted too tangy.
  • Came to be tested for dehydration. Physician told him that only way to do so was to insert Foley catheter to measure urine output. Left without further treatment.
  • Licked scissors with something on them. Washed lips with Coast soap and then thought he poisoned himself with the soap. Called poison control and was told that people could definitely poison themselves with Coast soap — he should only use Dove soap.
  • Twitching more than usual.
  • Took Maalox and Prilosec at same time. Feels sick.
  • Cleaning refrigerator and got cleaner fluid on hands. Thinks he was poisoned.
  • Constipated, drank cup coffee, now has diarrhea.
  • Ate piece of turkey, accidentally ate “red stuff” near bone along with it. Feels nauseous. Thinks turkey wasn’t cooked all the way. Called Poison Control and told not to worry. Came to ER at 3AM on Christmas night to be checked anyway.
  • Given bottle of amoxicillin for infection. Took tin foil seal off, but there was still some sticking out off of the edge of the bottle. Brought bottle in and thought he may have swallowed tin foil. Nurse asked him if he was drinking pills out of the bottle. He replied “no.” Nurse asked him how the metal would have gotten into his mouth. Stated he “might have poured some of it out” (no, this didn’t make sense to the nurse, either).
  • Neighbor poured Draino down drain in neighbor’s house. Thinks Draino backed up in his sink and that he may have inhaled some of it.
  • Bought sandwich in cafeteria machine. Only unwrapped it partially. May have bit through plastic and swallowed it. Wants to be checked for plastic wrap in his throat.
  • Came by ambulance at 3AM. Someone in house was using silicone caulking for bathroom. He may have touched some uncured silicone and touched his eye. Wants to be checked for possible silicone in eye. Also asks whether water from shower that may have run over silicone and gotten in his mouth is a problem for his health. Discharged. Returned next day, called ophthalmologist from out of town to meet him in the ER for the same thing. Ophthalmologist gave him eye drops, took bottle of caulk home with him.
  • Given prescription from ED for nausea. Got prescription filled, became concerned, went to private physician’s office. Held bottle out to receptionist and stated “Look at this stuff . . . you can’t even freeze it.”


  1. I swear that all these complaints are from only one person. And I agree with ER Nursey that truth is more amusing than fiction.

  2. I don’t find any of this hard to believe, even though it’s all the same person. I can’t tell you the number of people we (try to) soothe at the pharmacy just to keep them from tying up needless medical resources.

    I can only hope that my tax dollars aren’t paying for this guy’s paranoia. Why hasn’t he been referred to psych?

  3. I had a patient very similar to this fellow at my old inner city practice. I’m sure everyone in the local emerg thought he had a psychotic illness, but he actually had totally out of control obsessive compulsive disorder. For the fellow I was caring for I put him on a strict regieme of observation in my waiting room for 3 hours every time he came in with these sorts of complaints. I told him that we’d do no testing but keep a careful eye on him. He ended up sitting quietly in my waiting room reading for many days while making sure he wasn’t poisoned…sort of a non-solution but I bet the local emerg appreciated his relocation.
    Great post!
    Dr. J.

  4. Oh, the best by far was, “Physician told him that only way to do so was to insert Foley catheter to measure urine output. Left without further treatment.”

    Now if only all of his complaints needed a catheter….

  5. mr wayne is now officially part of our ‘catalog of er and ems abuse’ post (link at bottom). he has a fixed delusion, unfortunately not very ammenable to psychiatric or psychologic intervention.

    if you are the kind of person who enjoys the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard you may want to read many of the worthy comments to the below post over at our place just so you know why your insurance premiums are through the roof and why you had to wait six hours to be seen in the ER (hint, mention ‘chest pain’ and you will come right back but your bill will be huge).

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