WTF Moment #1007


Mom busts through the doors with her young son.
“He’s having an allergic reaction. Someone help!”

Everyone drops what they are doing, rushes over, and brings the child into a room.

Young child looks up at all the people and gives a big grin.

“I was feeding him his bottle and some of it spilled on his chest. His chest got red almost immediately and started developing little blisters.”
“What was in the bottle?”
“Is this the first time he has drank milk?”
“No he drinks it all the time, but it has never spilled on his chest before.”

After the child was unwrapped and examined, no blisters or redness were forthcoming.

“Well, they were right there.”
“He looks OK now, and it wouldn’t be likely for someone to drink milk with no allergic reaction and then have a reaction on his skin. I think he’ll be just fine.”

Mother leaves upset.

Two days later, administration gets a phone call that the patient wants her copay refunded (she didn’t have a copay) because her child wasn’t treated properly. The child’s primary care physician stated that the child should definitely have been tested for milk allergies in the emergency department and that he could have had serious consequences because the doctor didn’t tell her to stop feeding the child milk.



This and all posts about patients may be fictional, may be my experiences, may be submitted by readers for publication here, or may be any combination of the above. Factual statements may or may not be accurate. If you would like to have a patient story published on WhiteCoat’s Call Room, please e-mail me.


  1. I had almost the exact thing happen to me once – only the ‘culprit” was chickpeas. In the complaint, there was a reference to a non-related case report from 30 years ago in some obscure journal that was the supposed “proof” that I should have taken the patient more seriously. As I told the patient who was freaking out – if you’re that scared, then don’t eat chickpeas again. If it were me, I’d eat them. WTF fur shur

  2. Vladimir von Winkelstien on

    If a substance causes one’s throat to close up such that one needs a tube down one’s throat in order to continue breathing, that’s an allergy. I got that.

    What’s the proper term for when a substance causes hives or unexpected nausea or another unpleasant but relatively mild reaction?

    I ask because it seems like saying that one is “allergic” to six or seven things, when one will kill you and the others will just make you somewhat uncomfortable, is flirting with disaster.

    • I think at that point you use adjectives to help out.

      “I am [adjective] [adjective] [expletive] allergic to [allergen]”.

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