A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

The 64 Funniest Things That Ever Happened at the Doctor’s Office

Updated: Jul. 11, 2024

Hilarious true stories, jokes, transcripts and more from real doctors, nurses and fellow patients around the country. Warning: Side effects include laughing your butt off.

Oh, doctor!

Most of us don’t go to the doctor to tickle our funny bone. But that’s exactly what happened with these weird and hilarious tales, curated from Reader’s Digest submissions by Andy Simmons, RD’s humor editor for 20-plus years and the author of Now That’s Funny. Like these DIY disasters and funny mom stories, these medical mishaps will make your checkups feel a lot more normal—and give you a good chuckle along the way.

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Doctor, patient and urine test cup. Physician giving pee container to a woman in clinic or hospital emergency room. Urinary sample for medical exam in hospital.
Tero Vesalainen/Getty Images

Potty talk

“Here,” says the nurse, handing the patient a urine specimen container. “The bathroom’s over there.” A few minutes later, the patient comes out of the bathroom.

“Thanks,” he says, returning the empty container. “But there was a toilet in there, so I didn’t need this after all.” —Travis Stork, MD, Nashville, Tennessee 

Youngstown State Penguins v Ohio State Buckeyes
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

School spirit

My father was a die-hard college football fan up until the end. And when the end did come, it was in a hospital bed surrounded by his children. At one point, the doctor came into his room and gently got to the point: “Do you want us to resuscitate if your heart fails?”

My father shook his head, saying quietly, “No, no. Let me go, let me go.”

My sisters and I stood in silence, grasping the gravity of the situation. Then my dad spoke up again and said, “Unless Ohio State is on TV—then bring me back.” —Rick Eichhorn, Centerville, Ohio

Senior Woman's Hands
SolStock/Getty Images

Overheard in the doctor’s office

As I leaned in to check her eyes, my older patient got a little frisky. “You remind me of my third husband,” she said coyly.

“Third husband?” I asked. “How many have you had?”

“Two.” —Leon Pendracky, OD, Avella, Pennsylvania

Woman preparing quinoa vegetable mix cooked in a frying pan
Anchiy/Getty Images

Father knows best

I am a school nurse. One day, a student came into my office feeling sick and vomiting. After attending to him, I called his father, who didn’t seem the least bit concerned. “He doesn’t have a stomach virus,” he assured me. “My wife is just a bad cook.” —Diane Nickoloff, Orangeburg, New York

side view of woman's ear
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Ignorance is bliss

My patient announced she had good news … and bad. “The medicine for my earache worked,” she said.

“What’s the bad news?” I asked.

“It tasted awful.”

Since she was feeling better, I didn’t have the heart to tell her they’re called eardrops for a reason. —Murray Grossan, MD, founder of the Grossan Institute, Los Angeles

Find out what else you doctor is really thinking but won’t say to your face.

Merriam Dictionary in grass
Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Prescribe a dictionary too

When my friend’s father filled out his personal-information form at the pharmacy, he listed himself as bisexual.

“You’re not bisexual,” his wife reminded him. “Why would you choose that option?”

He shrugged, “Because I thought bisexual meant that I believed in a two-person relationship.” —Michelle Anderson, Chubbuck, Idaho

grocery store aisle
Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

Cleanup in aisle dumb

Patient: “Doctor, I slipped in the grocery store and really hurt myself.”

Me: “Where did you get hurt?”

Patient: “Aisle 6.” —John Munshower, DO, Media, Pennsylvania

a woman sleeping with a Eye Sleep Mask on her head
Elena Noviello/Getty Images

Sleep apnea dilemma

I gave my patient the results of her sleep study: “It looks like you stopped breathing in your sleep over 65 times per hour.”

Her response: “Did I start back?” —Michael Breus, PhD, Scottsdale, Arizona

The way you dress tells your story
Charday Penn/Getty Images

Dress to impress

During my surgical residency, I was called out of a sound sleep to the emergency room. I showed up at the ER—unshaven and unkempt—where I encountered a medical resident and his student, both neatly attired in clean white lab coats. The resident told his student, “You can always tell the surgeons by their absolute disregard for appearance.”

Two evenings later, I was at a banquet when called to the ER to suture a laceration. I was stitching away—this time, wearing a tuxedo—when I saw the same medical resident. He looked at me, then said to his student, “Sure is sensitive to criticism, isn’t he?” —gcfl.com

Close up of surgery team operating

This deserves a surgeon general warning … for epic burns

During surgery, my fellow resident bumped heads with the surgeon.

“Ah, Dr. Jones, a meeting of the minds,” he said, laughing it off.

The surgeon mumbled, “Yes. And I felt so alone.” —Sid Schwab, MD, Everett, Washington

These are the 50 secrets your surgeon won’t tell you.

Detail shot of steralized surgery instruments with a hand grabbing a tool

Always prepared

Scene: The operating room. I’m reviewing the surgical checklist with the nurses.

Me: “We have the surgical equipment, the heart-lung machine, antibiotics and the replacement heart valve on hand.”

Patient: “You wait until now to figure this stuff out?” —Marc Gillinov, MD, The Cleveland Clinic

man cutting avocado to use in making guacamole close up
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Kitchen injuries

I rushed into the urgent-care center, blood pouring from my finger after nicking it while cutting an avocado. The receptionist was clearly an old pro at this. She took one look at my wound and asked, “Avocado or bagel?” —Jacqueline Bailey, Plano, Texas

a young cat curiously peeking out from behind the white background

Medical cat-astrophe

I prescribed an inhaler for a patient’s cat allergy. He came back a week later saying he was none the better. Turns out, he was spraying the inhaler on the cat. —Source: sunnyskyz.com

Woman working at home and reading e-mails on her laptop
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Medical excuses for missing work (people actually thought might fly)

“My child stuck a mint up my nose, and I had to go to the emergency room to have it removed.”

“I got sick from reading too much.”

Employee got stuck in the blood-pressure machine at the grocery store and couldn’t get out.

“My dog wasn’t feeling well, so I tasted his food, and then I got sick.” —Sources: careerbuilder.com; blog.oregonlive.com

You’ll definitely want to know the most common lies patients tell their doctors.

Mature couple fighting at home sitting on the sofa.
courtneyk/Getty Images

Take two jokes and call me in the morning!

A doctor tells his wife, “You’re a terrible cook, you spend too much money, and you’re a lousy lover!”

Two weeks later, he comes home to find her making out with his partner.

“What’s going on here?!” he demands.

“Just getting a second opinion,” she replies. —Deborah Axelrod, MD, New York University Perlmutter Cancer Center

Sphygmomanometer and stethoscope with Electrocardiogram paper
RTimages/Getty Images

“Did you hear what happened to Mel?”

… one friend said to another. “He was seeing his doctor for six months because of chest pains and shortness of breath. Last week, he dropped dead from cancer.”

“That’s terrible,” says the other friend. “Well, I told him a hundred times to go see my doctor.”

“Is he any good?”

“Good? He’s the best! If he treats you for heart problems … you’ll die of heart problems.” —Steven Lamm, MD, NYU Langone Medical Center

White pillows on bed
Frank Rothe/Getty Images

Not up for the challenge

My husband read his post-op instructions. One stood out: You must sleep without pillows for 48 hours.

He was appalled: “I’m not sleeping that long!” —Nellie Strowbridge Newfoundland, Canada

age, vision and old people concept - close up of senior woman face and eye
Syda Productions/Shutterstock

She can see clearly now, the urge is gone

Mr. Harper sued a hospital, saying that after his wife had surgery there, she lost all interest in sex.

A hospital spokesperson replied, “Mrs. Harper was admitted for cataract surgery. All we did was correct her eyesight.” —Amar Safdar, MD, NYU Langone Medical Center

Various alphabetized medical records
fotofrog/Getty Images

Medical transcription errors

To paraphrase Mark Twain: Be careful of medical transcripts; you may die of a misprint.

Social history reveals this 1-year-old patient does not smoke or drink and is presently unemployed.

On the second day, the knee was better, and on the third day, it disappeared.

Discharge status: alive but without permission.

Exam of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.

Bleeding started in the rectal area and continued all the way to Los Angeles.

She is numb from her toes down. —Sources: gmrtranscription.com; nursebuff.com

Surgeon staying connected with smartphone
RealPeopleGroup/Getty Images

Overheard at the nurses station

A gentleman calls our office with questions about an upcoming test he is scheduled for, and we talk at length about the procedure.

Patient: “I’m sorry to have so many questions.”

Me: “Oh, that’s no problem. You can always call and ask for clarification when you need it.”

Patient: “Thank you very much, Clara Fication! You’ve been very helpful.” —Source: notalwaysright.com

Don’t miss these emergency room stories that are almost too crazy to be true.

Shot of a diverse group of uunrecognizable medical practitioners walking in the hallway of the hospital
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A nurse’s most awkward moment

After discussing a patient, the doctor ended his conversation by telling me, “I love you.” Following an awkward pause, he said, “I’m sorry, you were telling me what to do, so it made me think I was speaking with my wife.” —Source: Scrubs magazine

These nurse jokes RN-believably funny.

Female nurse standing confidently with her arms crossed
ljubaphoto/Getty Images

Mottos any nurse will swear by

  • Be nice to nurses. They’re the ones who choose your catheter size.
  • Yes, I am a nurse. No, I don’t want to look at it.
  • You can’t cure stupid, but you can sedate it.
  • ER nurse: The first person you see after saying, “Hold my beer and watch this.” —Source: nursebuff.com

A nurse walks down the corridor in a hospital.
Tempura/Getty Images

Nurses really know what’s up

The nurse giving me a pre-colonoscopy checkup advised, “You will be given anesthesia, so for the rest of today, do not drive, drink alcohol or sign any legal documents.” After a brief pause, she added, “And you should probably stay off of social media, dating apps and Amazon.” —Sandra Squire, South Charleston, West Virginia

 Blow out candles on birthday Cake
Jaktana phongphuek/Shutterstock

Happy birthday to Zzzz

I was working in a long-term-care facility, and there was a celebration for one of the residents. It was her 100th birthday. She was quite somnolent as the party began, so I asked her, “Do you know how old you are today?”

“No, how old am I?”

“You’re 100 years old.”

“Well, no wonder I’m so tired.” —Source: healthdegrees.com


The test you definitely don’t want to be positive

Scene: I answer a patient’s phone call.

Me: “Dermatology. How may I help you?”

Patient: “Hi. I just had an autopsy. I’d like to know my results.” —Source: notalwaysright.com

A senior woman holding her ear, trying to hear
Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman/Getty Images

Can you hear me now?

I’m an EMT. Once, I responded to a man complaining of an insect crawling into his right ear. But more than that, he was bothered by a burning sensation coming from his left ear. That’s when we noticed his wife holding a bottle of insect spray. Turns out, she sprayed insecticide into his left ear thinking it would “flush” the insect out of his right ear. I had to explain to her that our ear canals are separated by our brain. —Source: Reddit.com

Top view of wine bottle

Call it … carma!

A car belonging to a pregnant patient was broken into. The only thing that was stolen was a wine bottle in a brown paper bag. It turns out, that’s where she was keeping her urine sample, which she’d brought in to be tested. —Janet Grow, Overland Park, Kansas

Svetlana Iakusheva/Shutterstock

Just passing time

I asked a young mother in our neonatal unit why she thought we had so many expectant mothers from her small town. She said, “Well, we don’t have cable.” —Source: Scrubs magazine

Immunisation. Protecting children from diseases. Close-up nurse in medical gloves giving injection to little patient. Brave boy getting a flu shot at doctor's office and looking at needle
Jackyenjoyphotography/Getty Images

The kid’s not wrong

I took my 7-year-old grandson for his yearly flu shot. As the nurse prepared the syringe, she asked, “Did you have a reaction to the shot last year?”

“Yes,” answered my grandson.

The nurse stopped in her tracks. “What was your reaction?”

“I screamed.” —Andrew Haydu, Roseville, California

Doctor is holding sectional model female reproductive organs
Ivan-balvan/Getty Images

Dude looks like a lady … or does he?

The doctor explained to his patient that she suffered from cervicitis, or inflammation of the cervix. Concerned, she demanded that he test her husband for it too.

The doctor assured her, “I’m positive your husband does not have cervicitis.”

She shot back, “How do you know? You haven’t examined him yet.” —Roianne Lope, Pine Hill, New Jersey

Check out these annoying things your doctor really wishes you’d stop doing.

corpse foot on hospital table, health care medicine concept and life death insurance business
greenleaf123/Getty Images

Trials and fibrillations

Lawyer: “Do you recall the time that you examined the body?”

Doctor: “The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.”

Lawyer: “And Mr. Eddington was dead at the time?” —Source: rinkworks.com

Senior man having back pain, standing in his bedroom.
Halfpoint Images/Getty Images

Lumberjack wounds

Lawyer: “Doctor, did you say he was shot in the woods?”

Doctor: “No, I said he was shot in the lumbar region.” —Source: rinkworks.com

African American woman turning off alarm clock
David-Prado/Getty Images

The morning after

Lawyer: “Now, Doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, in most cases he just passes quietly away and doesn’t know anything about it until the next morning?” —Source: rinkworks.com

portrait of a cute puppy cavalier king charles spaniel on couch
Lari Cavalier/Shutterstock

From the other side of the stethoscope

I was coming to just as my doctor was finishing my colonoscopy. Feeling some pressure “back there,” I reached down and patted the doctor on the head.

“It’s OK, Yehudi,” I said. “Just go back to sleep.”

Yehudi is the name of my dog. —Sherry Moore, Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Set of treadmills staying in line in the gym
starush/Getty Images

Following instructions to the letter

I was working out in the gym when I noticed a man in his 70s standing in street clothes watching me and the others for about 20 minutes before leaving. He came a second day, staying for a half hour. On the third day, I approached him and said, “Can I ask what you’re doing?”

He smiled and said, “My doctor said I have to go to the gym.” —Tom Swartz, Leesburg, Florida

Two doctors having conversation over a case in doctor's office.
VioletaStoimenova/Getty Images


When I went to the ER to have a painful ingrown toenail removed, I was a complete basket case—sobbing, gagging, petrified … the works. But my doctor knew how to calm me down.

“Don’t worry about a thing,” he assured me. “I just looked up how to perform this operation on YouTube.” —Chelsea Bender, Hamburg, Pennsylvania

Physiotherapist's Hand Giving Leg Exercise To Female Patient In Clinic

Checking it twice

The day after I had surgery on my leg, a nurse came into my hospital room with a box in her hand. “Are you ready for this?”

“What is it?” I asked.

“Fleet enema. Didn’t your doctor tell you about it?”


She rechecked the orders. “Whoa!” she bellowed. “That didn’t say fleet enema. It said feet elevated!” —Julia Fussell, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

skin cancer closeup, yellow birthmark on the skin
Roman Budnyi/Getty Images

Mole problems

Patient: “I’m worried about this birthmark.”

Doctor: “Birthmark, you say? How long have you had it?” —Source: overheardintheoffice.com

Frustrated man solving his mental problems while having therapy session with psychologist
ljubaphoto/Getty Images

You passed the test!

My annual physical includes a memory test. It begins with the nurse giving me three words to remember later in the appointment. The words sounded familiar, so I mentioned, “Aren’t these the same three words you gave me last year?”

“Yes,” she said. “I like to use the same ones so I don’t forget them.” —Brenda Erickson, Urbandale, Iowa

Close Up Of Eyeglasses On Table
Pongasn68/Getty Images

My husband’s new “unbreakable” titanium eyeglasses broke

When he brought the many pieces back to the optometrist to have the glasses replaced, the assistant asked what had happened.

“They fell under the lawn mower,” he explained.

“Oh,” she said, nodding. “Were you wearing them at the time?” —Susan Strong, South Glastonbury, Connecticut

Cropped shot of a female doctor hold her senior patient's hand.
dragana991/Getty Images

I’ll have what she’s having

My mother-in-law’s friend was ill, so she went to the doctor.

“How are you feeling?” the doctor asked.

“Lousy. How about you?” she asked.

“I feel good, thanks.”

She replied, “Who’s your doctor?” —Janet Cox, Brewton, Alabama

By the way, this is how doctors find good medical care for themselves.

Sezeryadigar/Getty Images

Medicine in the news

Actual stories ripped from the headlines:

“Utah Poison Control Center reminds everyone not to take poison” —Source: kizaz.com

“Elderly woman breaks hip at Niagara hospital, told by staff to call ambulance” —Source: The Toronto Star

“Breathing oxygen linked to staying alive” —Source: Masoc County News (Texas)

“Troopers: Trucker pulling his own tooth caused accident that congested I-20/59” —Source: al.com

Don’t miss these doctor cartoons that’ll make you laugh through the pain.

Mirco Vacca/Shutterstock

Test your medical vocabulary

Patients reported that they suffered from these ailments. Can you decipher what they meant and come up with the correct malady?

1) “Immaculate degeneration”

2) “Liza Minnelli”

3) “Smiling mighty Jesus”

4) “Fireballs of the universe”


1) Macular degeneration

2) Salmonella

3) Spinal meningitis

4) Fibroids of the uterus —Sources: overheardintheoffice.com; notalwaysright.com; reader Evelyn Rosemore, Plano, Texas; Scrubs magazine

Next, check out these medical terms you should never, ever confuse.

Why trust us

Reader’s Digest has been telling jokes for over 100 years, curated and reviewed over the last 20 years by Senior Features Editor Andy Simmons, a humor editor formerly of National Lampoon and the author of Now That’s Funny. We’ve earned prestigious ASME awards for our humor—including comical quips, pranks, puns, cartoons, one-liners, knock-knock jokes, riddles, memes, tweets and stories in laugh-out-loud magazine columns such as “Life in These United States,” “All in a Day’s Work,” “Laughter is the Best Medicine” and “Humor in Uniform,” as well as online collections such as short jokes, dad jokes and bad jokes so bad, they’re great. You can find a century of humor in our 2022 compendium, Reader’s Digest: Laughter Is the Best Medicine. Read more about our team, our contributors and our editorial policies.