* * Anonymous Doc

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I accidentally touched a patient's feces.

I was doing a rectal exam, and I was taking off the gloves... and my hand slipped... and... feces.

I don't know how I'm ever going to feel clean again.

And it seems terrible to obsess over it.

But we're only human.

And just because I'm a doctor doesn't mean I can't get just as disgusted by what comes out of people's bodies as everyone else.

At least I'm not a nurse.

But still.

I have to see blood and urine and semen and feces and pus and mucus and all sorts of other nastiness.

At least I'm not doing OB.

Because watching someone give birth was truly horrifying.

But seeing the things I've seen on people's genitals in the clinic is almost as bad.

Seeing the things I've seen growing all over my patients.

Rashes, warts, pimples, cysts, blisters, pustules.

At least I'm not a podiatrist.

Because feet are pretty terrible.

Fissures and fistulas.

I did a rotation in medical school shadowing a doctor whose entire practice was the surgical repair of anuses.


No, I think it's anuses.

I can't believe I touched a patient's feces and now I'm touching the keys on my computer with those very same hands.

I have washed so many times, my skin is raw. I used an entire bottle of Purell.

Travel-sized, but still.


Why couldn't I have become an accountant?


  1. As a father of two, my experience is: you get used to it. (Though it might be different with the feces of your own children and the feces of complete strangers.)

    And I get an ever increasing feeling that giving birth is ugly only in hospitals. Home birth without all the medical staff around, dimmed lights, etc, is actually quite beautiful. (Though strangely, I was the only one capable of cleaning the floor afterwards. Perhaps it's just me...)

  2. So, I clean up cat feces and barf all the time. And I have touched it. And I haven't died.

    So maybe I should have been a doctor?????

    Natalie Sera

  3. Yep, that is why I do transcription instead of nursing. EWWWW!

  4. You haven't had kids yet, have you?

    I'm sorry you're grossed out but poop is part of life.

    And sometimes it lands on you.

    Or you stick your finger in it.

    Life goes on.

    Just remember to always keep your mouth closed.

    It's surprising the effluvia that can grow wings.


  5. You odiously don't have children...and have never changed a diaper. Seriously it is just POO, wash your hands and move on!

    P.S. Actually GIVING birth to baby is WAAAAAAY worse then just observing it...also something you have never done!

  6. You seem to have a lot of germ and fluid issues for someone who has to be around germs and fluids for the rest of their career. You will be horrified by the stuff that flies out of kids. And it always seems to fly all over you. Be glad you aren't living in the day of Hippocrates, who regularly used to taste, smell, and touch the stuff that came out of his patients' bodies.

  7. I know exactly where you are coming from!! DISGUSTING!! Reading this made me want to wash my hands. Oh and guess what, I'm pre-med hahahha. Oh well, doctors are allowed to be grossed out too!

  8. 1) I'm a nurse and I take a lot of offense to many of the comments you make regarding nursing staff being incompetent, or (literally) having a shit job. I'm a nurse because I love what I do, and maybe that's the difference between me and you.

    2) While I've worked in cardiology and ED, I am a labor and delivery nurse and will be done with my degree in certified nurse midwifery next year. Childbirth is amazing, regardless of the setting, although I have to agree that natural, homebirth or home-like settings make it absolutely wonderful. I've been doing this for a couple of years and I still get teary eyed when I witness a new life enter the world, and I'm thankful every day that people trust me enough to let me be a part of that. I also grateful to be their support during a wonderful transition period in their lives.

    There have been some awful experiences with death in all the settings I've worked in, but the realization that I'm helping people through this gives me the strength to keep going.

    P.S. I will catch some babies without gloves. I know all my patients' infectious disease statuses, and the amniotic fluid and blood doesn't really bother me because it's attached to a new life, and that's too beautiful to care :)

  9. I'll apologize for laughing at you... but I am having a good chuckle over your disgust.

    I used to do personal care for the handicapped, and then I was a caregiver for the elderly. I've had to deal with blood, vomit, stool samples, constipation, extremely loose stools, hairy male testicles with feces stuck to them, drool, death, etc. I can now eat a yummy meal and casually discuss all of these topics with a friend of mine in the health care field.

    I definitely have an advantage over my husband when it comes to the diapers and other issues that come with children. :)

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