As a doctor or nurse, what is the most disturbing encounter you've ever had with a patient's family?
This is a bit opposite of your question. It was disturbing because it was a lack of an encounter with a patient's family. I was working in neuro-intensive care at the time. We had a teenage boy who was suffering greatly from a terminal illness. It was not neurological. I do not remember why he was on our unit. Even as he neared the end of his life, the poor boy never got any visitors. He used to cry and beg us to page his mother on the overhead speaker, believing surely she was somewhere within the hospital and if we paged her, she would come and see him. Everyone knew that she would not come. The social workers had tried but she gave various excuses and she never came. I remember holding this young boy and rocking him while he cried. He was so scared and so alone. This happened many years ago but I will never forget it and even now it breaks my heart that he suffered so with no mother there beside him. No father. No one but we nurses. How he must've felt knowing she would not come. He died in the arms of strangers.
This isn't too weird, but interesting. I have a mentally deficient young man in the nursing home, and his mom visits often. He is subject to occasional behavioral outbursts and somewhat atypical medical manifestations, but being unable to communicate, evaluating him can be a challenge. Sometimes, when he would be ill or agitated, his mom would blame the staff for some disruption, which was well intended but somewhat annoying. Anyway, he became ill with abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and poor intake. He had to be hospitalized for IV fluids, and X-rays of his abdomen showed a density in the right lower abdomen, most like in the colon. There was nothing it could have been but a foreign body he ingested. Mom was working up a major spell over it, but it worked its way around and out. It was a 1.2 cm x 1 cm polished rock like one would use in houseplants or aquaria. Mom had brought a sack of them for him to play with a few days earlier, and he ate one. He's fine now, and she was sheepish but grateful, and we all had a bit of a restrained laugh.