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Worst Aid

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Sticking a twig from the ground into your forearm to dig out a bullet. Don't Try This at Home... in fact, don't try this ever.

"This hospital works under the same logic as a kid who flips over a couch cushion because he spilled grape juice on it!"

Fictional first aid is often applied in ways that would be useless or outright counterproductive in Real Life. There's the reason of safety, as during CPR or the Heimlich maneuver organs in the way are considered to be expendable. There's the practical reason that the audience might prefer their unconsciousness and revival scene without it turning into "Fun Things To Do With Vomit". There's the dramatic reason that a character may not actually know first aid or the work may be a period piece where medical knowledge is less advanced.

Qualifying as Worst Aid will usually mean that the work is attempting to depict useful medical care and it is done badly or counterproductively for reasons having nothing to do with actor safety (see CPR). It becomes egregious when the depiction is of a doctor or other expert doing something you should learn not to do in First Aid class.

    Stock Mistakes 
  • The meta mistake for most items below that aren't just wrong/dangerous can be thought of as Last Resort First. There are some circumstances where trained people will use them, but there are supposed to be a lot of less flashy, less risky things to go through first. Desperate life-saving measures are, well, desperate and offset against loss of life. Of course, in fiction-land, the Rule of Drama is king...
  • Trying to pop your arm or leg back into its socket by yourself. If you don’t know what you’re doing it could end up making your injury worse than it already is.
  • Moving injured people in any situation is often handled badly. An injured person should only be moved if the immediate danger can't be moved away. Otherwise, the character should wait for professional assistance, and can double their usefulness by keeping the person from trying to move themselves, holding their heads steady (to minimize the risk of exacerbating a cervical spine injury if there's evidence they may have fractured it) if possible.
  • The Over-the-Shoulder Carry, traditional Fireman's Carry, and Bridal Carry are all absolutely awful, last-ditch only ways to carry an injured person away from danger, regardless of the injury. They increase the risk of spinal injury, or exacerbate injuries like gunshot wounds and stabs.
  • Car wrecks are one of the most common mechanisms of injury resulting in spinal compromise (see above). Pulling someone out of a wreck without precautions is an "emergent move" only justified when there is a serious life threat present. Thus, unless you actually see or hear gasoline leaking + smoke, or one or both cars is actually on fire, leave people in the cars until qualified firefighters and paramedics arrive. Dragging a downed motorcyclist or cyclist is even worse, unless he or she is in immediate danger.
  • Similarly, as noted in the examples, pulling/carrying a collapsed performer off a stage, especially when the cause of the collapse is unknown and/or there's a high possibility of neck/spinal cord injury (e.g. falls, someone who was headbanging/windmilling/doing headstands/otherwise moving their head and neck around intensely immediately before the collapse and/or showing pain in the neck/back/shoulders before it, someone who got hit in the head or neck or back with something). Instead, halt the show, remove stuff around them that could hurt them, and wait for proper medical assistance to arrive.
  • Childbirth is rarely a medical emergency - human beings exist today because human beings were successfully born in the past, including those parts of the past prior to the invention of modern medicine, or indeed writing - and almost never occurs in a few hours in first-time mothers, let alone within minutes in the back seat of the car on the way to the hospital. Barring any unusual complications,note  the odds are very, very good that Mom and Baby will both be absolutely fine without any radical action, even if the Baby actually comes out in your avalanche-isolated cabin. Those doctors who aren't around (and whom you could probably walk to if in a city) mostly just catch the Baby and hand her to Mom with the cord still attached. All of that means you should not resort to radical, otherwise dangerous actions to get to medical care, e.g. driving recklessly. It is natural for first-time parents to be nervous and excitable; it is not excusable to subject the mother-to-be to a low-budget remake of The French Connection's most famous scene.
  • Treating burns with butter or oil. Butter or oil will worsen any burn from sunburn to third-degree burns, and possibly get it infected. If the skin is recently burned/still burning and the burn is 1st or 2nd degree (most sunburns, brief contact with a hot object, dropped cigarette or cigar on leg, etc), immerse it in or spray it with cool water to stop ongoing damage for twenty minutes, and, in the case of 2nd degree burns, wrap it in Cling Film/Saran Wrap until you can get medical treatment. If it's third degree, then try to keep it cool and clean, but call 911 (112 in the European Union as well as other countries) and wait for the professionals to arrive rather than using cold running water.
  • Suck Out the Poison: Orally sucking out snake venom was and still is common practice in various societies, but most venomous snake bites aren't going to kill a healthy person so its seeming effectiveness is illusory. As soon as the venom hit the bloodstream, most of it probably got carried away from the wound. For the sucker there's the obvious risk of bloodborne pathogens in addition to any lingering venom, especially if the sucker has even a tiny cut or sore in their mouth. Mouths, saliva, and fingers all contain tons of microbes that risk infecting the wound. On top of all that, venomous snakes don't always inject venom when they bite. The best treatment is to keep the person calm and still (so the venom doesn't disperse throughout the body as quickly on an elevated heartrate), and lie down with the wound below the heart if possible while waiting for emergency help.
  • Removing impaling foreign objects from wounds. Generally they've smashed all the bits they're going to smash, and are now acting as a plug on the wound — and an infection can be fought off with antibiotics at the hospital. Pull the plug, and you may be dead in minutes. Barbed weapons might tear more flesh, and if they don't, you're unlikely to be able to pull it out at the exact angle it went in.
  • We Have to Get the Bullet Out!. A bullet can remain undetected inside somebody for years and not cause any problems. Generally, the only times a bullet needs to be removed are if it is still traveling in the body, if it’s in a place where it could cause fatal injury if it randomly dislodged itself (in which case the doctors want to remove it in a controlled way), or if it is serving as a source of infection or immune reaction (far more likely due to the wound itself and not the bullet, on account of the high heat levels involved in firing). Getting the bullet out is usually the last thing surgeons bother to do. Funnily, much of the reason it's such a common assumption is that for a long time, having to remove projectiles from wounds was indeed a pretty good thing for any medic to do. Musket balls are larger and slower than modern jacketed bullets and are made of pure lead, meaning they were more problematic to leave in the wound and had a habit of taking bits of clothing with them, and arrowheads are even larger and slower than that (ironic, considering their own associated trope). This meant leaving them in was a good way to get an infected wound.
  • Trying to make someone vomit poisonous or infectious things they have consumed. If they aren't already vomiting (which does happen with some substances, alcohol being the most notorious), you should just get them to a hospital. Supportive treatment begun early (or antidotes/antitoxins where they exist) often does far more good than trying to purge the substance from the body. Finally, in some cases a drug, alcohol, or other overdose can cause unconsciousness and someone vomiting can breathe in their own vomit (pulmonary aspiration), complicating their potential survival with a nasty case of pneumonia or asphyxiation. If the poison was a strong acid, alkali, or a petroleum product, vomiting could cause further damage to the esophagus and mouth. It is important to note that many countries offer a poison control hotline,note  which can offer expert advice and specific instructions for the particular poison ingested (if known). If these guys say to induce vomiting, do it; however, as noted before, this is a situational precaution, and should not be attempted unless it is known for certain it is the right thing to do.
  • Administering a laxative, suppository, or enema to someone who has stomach/intestinal pain of unknown cause. If they have appendicitis, this can rupture their appendix, leading to at least a horrific infection and possibly their death. If they have any immobile blockage (say, a tumor or an object), their entire large intestine can rupture, leading to almost certain death. Laxatives, suppositories, and enemas should only be administered if the primary illness is constipation with no lower abdominal pain worse than mild discomfort that has persisted no longer than a week, and when the obstruction is known to consist only of fecal matter. Otherwise, the proper course of action is to get them to a hospital, where proper imaging and tests can be done to determine the cause of the pain, and there's surgeons and antibiotics available for any sudden problems.
  • Administering lots of acetaminophen/paracetamol/Tylenol/Panadol for pain or fever or similar. Acetaminophen/paracetamol has a surprisingly low dose before it can cause liver damage (especially in heavy drinkers, steroid users, hepatitis A, B, or C patients, or others who may have compromised liver function). If the recommended dose of acetaminophen doesn't help, give up on it and use alternative analgesics. And if someone drinks a lot or has hepatitis, don't ever give them acetaminophen in the first place.
  • CPR alone has so many, it has its own page.
  • Disregarding the security of an accident scene or even personal safety, in violation of the most important rule: Avoid increasing the number of casualties. Rushing onto the freeway isn't any more safe because there's an upended car on it. This one's popular in real life — paramedics get called out at least weekly in some areas for accidents caused by people running onto the freeway to help. It may seem cold, but Saving Private Ryan outcomes aren't the goal, especially when there are many Private Ryans.
  • Approaching a person in obvious mental distress in a threatening and dominating way or suddenly trying to grab them. This one is often done in Real Life by police, and often leads to the person acting out, escalating the problem. If someone is in obvious mental distress (appears to be attempting suicide, appears to be hallucinating or tripping, uncontrollable crying or rage), the proper response, if no one else is at risk, is to back off and allow the person space, and to approach, if at all, slowly, calmly, and ideally with permission. Someone in mental distress, for whatever reason, often will respond to compassion and respect much better than they will to orders, threats, or being touched (i.e. in their mind, suddenly physically assaulted).
  • Aquatic problems can be even worse. Basic aquatic safety and lifesaving courses will tell you to stay the hell out of the way if there are any professional lifeguards around, and anybody without at least basic training is far more likely to make the situation much, much worse than better when they get grabbed by the original victim.
  • In Hollywood, if CPR is ineffective, it is perfectly fine to start striking random hammerfists to the center of the patient's chest in an attempt to restart their heart. In real life, this is called a precordial thump, and is not a free beating, but a precisely aimed blow delivered by an expert in an attempt to interrupt a life-threatening rhythm, in the event that a defibrillator is not available, and can only be attempted once.
  • The Miraculous Bitchslap Of Life. Somebody isn't breathing, or there's no pulse, and their buddy gets all emotional and angry and slaps them a couple of times, perhaps accompanied by a How Dare You Die on Me! speech. After a few seconds, they come around. Needless to say, if someone in Real Life is badly-injured enough to fall unconscious, slapping them is far more likely to make the injuries worse than to rouse the subject from their stupor.
  • Putting someone's head back when they have a nosebleed — you risk making them choke or puke from swallowing the blood. You're supposed to pinch the bridge of the nose and lean forward until the bleeding stops.
  • Person has hypothermia? Throw them in hot water! In real life, this would cause their core temperature to shoot up way too quickly, inviting the colder fluid from the extremities in while simultaneously risking burning them. The resulting diffusion would make the person even colder overall, or mess up their heart, or even worse, the sudden return of circulation to cold extremities might result in a fatal drop in blood pressure.
    • On top of all that, if there is a solid chance of re-freezing (ex. low supplies, wanting to continue hiking), thawing the tissues just to have them freeze over again could cause more damage than leaving it as-is until steady warmth is available. I.e. what happens to meat that's frozen, thawed, then frozen, then thawed again in your freezer, except still connected to something living.
  • Giving alcohol to someone stranded in cold weather or especially suffering from hypothermia, with special mention to it often shown as being delivered by St. Bernards. Alcohol only gives the illusion of warmth when you're freezing: it dilates blood vessels, bringing more of that core warmth to the surface-i.e. just the place for the cold to suck it away all the quicker. It might make you think you feel better, but it's actually killing you faster if you're not actually warm at the time.
  • Beginning care on an adult who has capacity without consent.note  The person can sue for assault and battery, and this applies even to choking victims.note  Note that this only applies to conscious adults — conscious children are either assumed to give consent, or you must obtain consent from the child's legal guardian (parent or otherwise) on the scene, and if there is no one else on the scene, it's assumed. Unconscious anything is also fair game under the doctrine of implied consent, which is the assumption that an unconscious person would want you to help them even if they can't communicate it. The exception to implied consent is the DNAR or Do Not Resuscitate order (Also known as a Respect form in some countries) in which a patient puts in writing that they do not want help if they fall unconscious, but this is unlikely to apply outside of a hospital or dedicated care facility. Unless the person has a DNAR on them, and shows it to you, or you know explicitly that that is their wish, you should follow the rules for treating the unconscious as stated above.
  • An untrained person using a shirt or other article of clothing as a makeshift tourniquet to stop bleeding from a gunshot wound. While this allows for some fanservice as the character tears away their clothing, it's a very bad idea. Like moving an injured person yourself this is cutting straight to one of the most extreme options that are supposed to be offset against "death." The US Army, who have been using makeshift tourniquets out of cravats and windlasses (basically bandannas and sticks) for decades, have shown that advances in combat medicine allow a limb to have a tourniquet applied and blood flow completely cut off for up to 2 hours without permanent damage and up to 4 hours while still keeping the limb. This has gained modern tourniquets such as the CAT (Combat Application Tourniquet) a place in the gear of most modern combat soldiers, and indeed, is the US Military's preferred method of treatment for significant extremity hemorrhage and/or total limb amputation. The current consensus is that when used properly tourniquets work, but should only be used under specific circumstances by professionals unless the situation is that dire. "Dire" in this case meaning that the person is almost certain to die from blood loss before any professional medical aid arrives on site, typically meaning a limb being fully severed.
  • Treating epileptic seizures by putting things in the victims' mouths to prevent them biting or choking on their tongues. Some objects can cause the victim to break their jaw from biting on it. You can also get your fingers bitten from trying to reach into a epileptic's mouth during a seizure. It also goes without saying that it's physically impossible for someone to swallow their own tongue if it's still connected to the inside of their mouth.
  • Using a defibrillator to shock someone in asystole (flatline). Prevalent enough to get its own trope, but basically if you do this all you're doing is cooking the heart muscle and making it even less likely the person will recover. Most automatic defibrillators made today will flat out not deliver a shock to a flatline because it has no rhythm to work with. The actual process of making a heart beat again after it's gone into asystole involves injecting hormones like vasopressin, atropine and/or adrenaline and is both considerably less dramatic and less likely to succeed, and even if they regain a normal heartbeat they may not live long enough to even be discharged.
  • Believing that the "normal" body temperature is always exactly 98.6°F (37°C) and that illness always produces an elevated temperature. In real life, body temperature fluctuates throughout the day, and the typical range varies from person to person. Someone with a normal temperature can still be sick, and someone running as high as 100°F (37.7°C) might not be.
  • (Repeatedly) taking a dressing off a bleeding wound and applying a new one. By doing this, you're not giving the blood enough time to clot, and you may be removing any clots that may have formed. The correct course of action is to add new bandaging over that which is already soaked through as needed, and even if you wind up with a huge wad of unruly bandaging that's still better than disrupting the clotting process.
  • Instantly closing a wound (which may or may not have been created in surgery). While most wounds get cleaned and immediately shut, deep wounds, especially infected ones, often stay open. Treatment of big abscesses or infected wounds often involves opening it, cleaning it and then leaving it open for a few days (with a bandage in the wound to keep it open and a plaster over it to keep it clean and avoid fluids slipping out). This allows the tissue to heal from bottom up and the doctors to check on the infection and keep it clean. Instantly sewing it shut would close the hole, inviting bacteria to create a new or even worse infection which could lead to a lethal blood poisoning (it usually leads to a sepsis — multiple organ failure).
  • Wounds and Water. There could be a page dedicated simply to the assumption in fictional media that a wound should not get in contact with water unless it's a burn. Everyone who has surgery will usually find that swimming pools and sauna are forbidden, but showering is fine as long as the wound itself is not covered in soap (having it run over the wound is OK, though). In some cases, the patient is even encouraged to wash the wound, such as when there is the risk of infection. Certain abscess cases even involve the patient holding the shower head straight at the wound and using the water pressure to clean the wound thoroughly. Note, however, that getting the dressing wet is a different matter; a normal adhesive dressing pad will stand up to the shower but shouldn't be fully immersed in water, and stuff like compression bandages must be kept dry at all times.
  • Assuming a victim is fine because there is nothing currently flowing out of them, stuck in them, latched onto them, etc. Anyone trained in first aid can tell you that shock (the body failing to circulate blood properly) is actually one of the more dangerous threats posed to almost any accident victim. Many cases of shock can stem from what amounts to the body creating errors while responding to stressful stimuli, which means that even a comparatively minor wound (such as a cut on the thumb) can throw a person into shock. Symptoms can be anything from anxiety and confusion to irregular pulse and blackouts, and it's not unheard of for a patient who at first glance does not appear to have any life-threatening injuries to die from shock simply because the body unintentionally shut itself down. One of the best ways to prevent shock is to simply interact with the patient in a reassuring and calm tone, as well as keeping them warm and ensuring proper blood flow to the head and vital organs (usually achieved by propping up the legs).
  • Performing surgery without any form of protective garments. While it's mostly Beast Men who are the main problem with this, even without the massive amount of hair that could fall into the person's body during surgery, the average person carries millions of bacteria on the skin of their arms alone, and could lead to infection of the patient without said protective gear. That's why doctors wear gloves even it's something as simple as giving blood, and why doctors are shown washing their hands before surgery: it's there to protect the patient as much as it is to protect the doctors.
  • Giving anything by mouth to someone who is unconscious or barely conscious. An unconscious person does not swallow, so if you give them something, they're going to choke on it. IVs exist for a reason.
  • Cauterizing wounds. To be more specific, it can be a solution if the person is bleeding badly, and better care is on the way. Otherwise, you're basically going to be giving yourself gangrene and increasing the chance of infection. This applies even more with the things people often use to cauterize themselves (like torches), rather than the electrocauterization favored in the few cases where the situation actually calls for it.
  • Slapping the back of a choking person while they are upright; gravity may cause the object to slip further down the windpipe. If you are going to administer back blows make sure they are leaning forward first.
  • Pouring water on yourself to protect from fire or high temperatures. This sounds intuitive, as water can take heat away from the body, but not when you're continuously exposed to hot air. Wet clothes absorb heat more easily than dry ones, which increases the chance that you'll suffer burns and even scalding as the water turns to steam. The only wet thing you'll really want to use is a damp cloth to press over your mouth and nose to protect yourself from smoke inhalation.
  • Urinating on a jellyfish sting. The stinging cells on jellyfish tentacles, called nematocysts, fire due to physical contact. After the initial sting, parts of a jellyfish tentacle can remain stuck to a person's skin, including thousands of other, inactivated nematocysts that could fire and release even more venom into the body. The thinking behind this idea is that urine can chemically neutralize these nematocysts and make it easier to remove them, but this has not only proven to be ineffective, urine's chemical changes can actually make them fire. Other common ideas, like using a razor and shaving cream or scraping them away with a credit card, don't work either. The exact solutions vary, but generally the best solution is dousing the area with concentrated vinegar, which will chemically neutralize most species' nematocysts, and carefully removing the stingers with tweezers.
  • Heal It with Booze is generally a bad idea, at least as an antiseptic. Alcohol is generally bad for you, which is why it's also bad for bacteria and could be used as an antiseptic, but it would also damage the flesh in the wound. Also, unless it's a very pure alcohol, it's going to have other things in there, like sugars, which would encourage an infection, rather than prevent it.
  • Drinking or taking any sort of enema to "detoxify" the body. Your body already gets rid of toxins on its own via the liver, the large intestine, the kidneys, etc. Additionally, most of the substances recommended for this process, such as activated charcoal and coffee enemas, are either completely ineffective, disrupt your body's natural means of processing vitamins and minerals, or even carry the risk of potentially life-threatening injuries and infections.

Spotting or MSTing such depictions is good for a lark. Unfortunately, Reality Is Unrealistic, so they are likely not harmless and it might be a good idea for a media fiend to take a first aid course. Depending on your country, any mid-sized or larger city should offer an initial 2-4 class.

Keep in mind, "mistakes" like bending the elbows while doing otherwise-proper CPR are not Worst Aid per se. As alluded to at the top, really doing CPR on someone that does not need it can get them seriously hurt. In fact, the ultimate aversion of CPR Worst Aid is having someone break a patient's sternum doing CPR on them; also, performing a real CPR on a person with more or less normal, regular heartbeat is likely to trigger a severe arrhythmia, requiring a defib to get it back right. Bending the elbows is a necessary straight play when simulating it on a live, breathing actor, so it can be considered one of the Acceptable Breaks from Reality.

See also CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable, Death by Ambulance, Magical Defibrillator, Suck Out the Poison, We Have to Get the Bullet Out!, Shot to the Heart, Flatline, Harmful Healing, Heal It With Fire, Meatgrinder Surgery, Lodged Blade Removal, and Artistic License – Medicine; compare Annoying Arrows.

For in-universe examples, see Comically Inept Healing.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan uses this trope for drama when Hannah yells at Armin to help her as she's performing CPR on her boyfriend Franz, but Armin realizes this is pointless since Franz is not only already dead but Half the Man He Used to Be, having been torn in half by a Titan. Hannah's ministrations obviously have no effect, and this is used to indicate that she's snapped badly from the stress of the battle.
  • Rock in Black Lagoon. After the final fight of the Tokyo story arc, Revy's leg is impaled all the way through by Ginji's katana. What does Rock do? Why, rip the sword out of her leg! It's incredible that Revy didn't bleed to death.
  • Case Closed:
    • A secondary character fights a murderer and in the process is stabbed in the arm. At the end of the fight, he pulls the knife out of his arm.
    • In a Non-Serial Movie, after Conan was buried underneath an avalanche and found, Ran simply hugs him to her chest and cries for him to wake up while everyone else just stands there, instead of getting some immediate aid to properly re-warm the half-frozen Conan.
  • In the manga version of Cirque du Freak, a woman gets her arm torn off by a wolfman and in an instant, it gets reattached despite the amount of blood she just lost.
  • Invoked by Claymore: after a particularly brutal fight, a priest treats Clare's wounds, but instead of undressing her he simply applies bandages directly over her clothes. 15 volumes later, the priest reveals that his poor treatment of her was out of fear and/or disgust over her Wound That Will Not Heal, and he is deeply ashamed of his behavior.
  • In Flower Knight Dakini, Eiden gets stabbed in the arm by one of the spider golems. He disinfects the wound, but has to close it with a stapler. After seeing it, Kayoh notes that the staples aren't enough to stop the bleeding and he needs some medicine water immediately.
  • Subverted in Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • When Edward is impaled, he tells someone to help him yank the object out. He's warned that doing so will cause more bleeding and he already knows full well that it will; he just has plans to use alchemy to fix the wound after it's out.
    • Similarly, when Buccaneer is stabbed in the gut with a sword, he decides to leave it in, since that will slow the bleeding somewhat and there are no medics around.
  • When Miaka is unconscious from blood loss in Fushigi Yuugi, Hotohori and Tamahome conclude that she needs a blood transfusion... which they accomplish by stabbing themselves and bleeding on her wounds. It's easier to believe they wanted to show off their love for her then seriously believing this would work. They're chided for their stupidity by a savvy healer who uses magic to put the blood where it belongs.
    • A couple of non-canon parody scenes show them either bled to death or stab each other.
  • In The Garden of Sinners, the flashback scene after Shiki is hit by a car and visibly thrown several feet in the air shows her on a stretcher being taken from the ambulance to the hospital without any sort of backboard under her or collar/padding to restrain her head, which visibly moves as they're wheeling her in. The accident alone was bad enough since the scenario heavily suggests spinal injury, and she's lucky she wasn't permanently paralyzed because of additional trauma from not having her cervical spine stabilized. What's even worse is that the accident had a witness who went with them and presumably told them what happened, but even if they didn't have a witness medical personnel are always supposed to assume potential spinal/neck injury until it can be definitively ruled out, and neglecting to use a backboard/spine collar on someone in a scenario like that is an automatic fail on most certification exams for emergency medical workers. What makes this even stranger is that the stretcher clearly has places to attach head restraints on it that aren't used, and the animation studio who made the film is usually fairly spot on with these things.
  • Subverted in Gate when a JDSF soldier gets shot with an arrow. While carrying him to safety, as they are in the middle of a battle, the commanding officer warns the others not to pull the arrow out or else the man will bleed to death, and to get him to a proper medic instead.
  • In Jojos Bizarre Adventure Golden Wind, Mista takes a gunshot wound during his fight with Sale. How do Narancia and Fugo help with no way of going to a hospital or healing him with their Stands? By stapling the wound shut. At least Mista thinks it looks cool.
  • Subverted by Love Hina: during a holiday on the beach, Shinobu pretends to be unconscious in order to trick Keitaro into performing mouth-to-mouth on her. She is surprised by how methodical and unromantic he is (following all the proper steps); in the end, she can't go through with it, and accidentally kicks Keitaro in the crotch instead.
  • In Strike Witches, Yoshika attempts to use her Healing Hands on a sailor that likely has broken ribs and shrapnel lodged in his torso. She's told to stop by another sailor who knows she's only making it worse due to her lack of experience. Probably because it looks like said magical healing is boosting the regeneration rate over the unset bones, bits of shrapnel and likely destroyed blood vessels. She smartly settles on using her super-strength to ferry medical supplies.

    Comic Books 
  • A similar joke as in the Dead Snow movie is used in the comic book Hitman, when a panicked character bitten by a zombie animal got a friend to saw off his hand. The punchline? The zombie-germ didn't affect living animals. He would have been fine.
  • In Lucky Luke, whenever someone has nearly drowned, the usual method of revival is to pull their arms (or front paws, in case of Rantanplan) back and forth, thus pumping the water out of the body. The same technique has been used in older cartoons, since Silvester Method of artificial respiration and dates back to the 19th Century (or early 20th, at least). There's also the Holger-Neilson method, which was used prior to the innovation of modern CPR in 1960. Both have since been shown to be highly dangerous.
    • Used in-universe when Averell gets knocked out, Jack and William move him under a tree. Joe yells at them that it's incredibly dangerous to move a wounded person, so they... carry him back.
  • Analyzed and played straight in Runaways. When it looks like Chase is dead from being held under the water, the other kids all throw out different suggestions to bring him back to life, ranging from sucking the water out to the Heimlich maneuver. They do use CPR, but none of them can remember how many compressions to give him. It does cross over into Clean Pretty Reliable territory when it brings him back fully even though his heart had been stopped for several minutes.
  • In-universe example of the trope in The Smurfs comic book story "Doctor Smurf", as the title character's less-than-perfect idea of first aid often causes some fairly realistic (if still cartoonish) damage to his patients.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one of the Knights of the Dinner Table comics, Bob's character receives a bloody wound to the side of the neck, stated to cause severe HP loss over time if untreated. His immediate and completely unfazed reaction is to say "I apply a tourniquet to my neck." Notably, BA doesn't punish his character for that one, possibly because it's far from the stupidest thing to have ever happened at that table.
  • For Better or for Worse: When April is pulled out from a freezing river, the only medical care John and Elly give her is wrapping her in a coat. They’re never shown taking her to a hospital or checking her for symptoms of hypothermia or if she has any water in her lungs. In Real Life, effects from drowning can sometimes appear hours after rescue and April would have to kept under observation in an emergency room. This gets a bit darker when one remembers April's longstanding status as The Unfavorite.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon):
    • After being injured in a fall, Krupin, despite suspecting his leg is broken, starts moving to look around his new surroundings. Real Life medical advice says you should keep a broken leg as still as you can until medical assistance arrives to help you, and straying too far from the spot where you were injured is also ill-advised if it's not in a public location and medics don't know precisely where you are.
    • Rodan at one point performs the Stock Mistake of cauterizing wounds on another Titan to heal them — in Real Life, cauterization increases the risk of gangrene. Of course, since the Titan in question is half-"alien, immortal Draconic Abomination with a science-defying regeneration factor" instead of an earthly lifeform, this trope is pretty much as justified as Monster X pulling out a foreign object impaling them was at another point. And besides, neither this story nor MonsterVerse canon has ever really addressed the concept that pathogens can make Titans ill – the closest thing to a Titan-harming infection we've gotten is an unnaturally-made viral Undead Abomination.
  • Part 13 in Wattpad AU Spice Girls Fic, Astral Journey: It's Complicated, this ends up being subverted as Emma is the only one who does CPR on Melanie, who was choking, while the rest run for help... not even trying to help. After trying to loosen the objects to get some kind of airway, Emma starts to give Melanie CPR, who had lost consciousness. Emma was trying to give Melanie air long enough until medical help to arrives, which is most often recommended.
  • Played for laughs in The Lion King Adventures. In Dead as a Dodo, Simba gives Zazu CPR by punching him in the chest.
  • My Hero Playthrough: Discussed Trope. At the start of the USJ arc, Thirteen tells class 1-A that while they will be finding and rescuing the victims for the day's lesson, that normally that is not what you do, and they will be learning later how to tell when, if, and how a victim should be moved.
  • A Rabbit Among Wolves: While raiding a corrupt sweatshop, Jaune ends up shot. His minions remove the bullet from him with a pair of tweezers. The veterinarian they are forced to take him to is extremely unamused at their recklessness.
  • Voyages of the Wild Sea Horse: Shiki the Golden Lion claims that part of the reason he's been hiding on his Floating Island of Merville for 20 years was to convalesce from the physical shock of first chopping off both his legs, then wedging his swords hilts-first into the stumps to staunch the bleeding and eventually become his peg-legs. Whilst he's obfuscating his real reason for hiding in Merville, he's not entirely lying, either: his personal physician, Dr. Indigo, notes to Shampoo that part of his job whilst they settled in was nursing Shiki through the raging infections that resulted from this "treatment", and that Shiki survived largely because he's just that tough.

  • In Gensokyo 20XXV, this is played straight in that, after Reimu eats rat poison, they tried to get her to vomit, which is something if it hasn't already happened, one shouldn't attempt. After it had seeped into her blood, requiring extraction, Kaguya pointed out that Ran's blood could kill her, stating that it might have been different than hers. Of course, this trope is also justified in that they didn't know how to deal with one of the children eating poison, as it had never happened before.
  • Subverted in The Sun Soul — a(n insane) Bug Catcher pulls out a knife that was stabbed into his leg. Blood starts gushing out immediately, since the blade had sliced the femoral artery. The only thing that stopped him from dying from blood loss was the Weedle got to him first.
  • Happens no less than twice in Freedom Dies With Me;
    • Traveller's stomach wound. In the very first chapter, he is stabbed in the stomach, and the very best those around him can think of... is to wrap bandages around it. Even when entering Planet Avalice properly, all Shang Tu's doctors can do is replace the bandages and jack him up on painkillers. He finally bleeds out after being stranded by War Master, and it takes reversing his personal timeline to before he got stabbed to get rid of it.
    • Justified to a small extent; the prologue is in a post-apocalyptic version of Planet Avalice where supplies are scarce, medicine in Shang Tu seems based entirely on the healing baths, and the blade used was steeped in a strong poison that resisted all forms of healing — even the Blade of Hysteria's supernatural abilities do nothing against it. Only Torque averts this, as he uses his technology to stitch the wound shut, but even that was a knowingly temporary fix at best.
    • The second example is used as a plot point; Trying to get Lilac to use the Blade of Hysteria to set her down a path of insanity, War Master simply shoots her in the stomach with Traveller's Desert Eagle. With the healing baths unavailable, gun wound treatments being non-existent on Planet Avalice, and Just a Flesh Wound being averted, Lilac would be doomed to a slow death, not counting her severe burns from Brevon's Electric Torture. Only using the Blade would heal them, and thus she is forced to use it. Even after getting rescued, the rescuers can do so littlenote  that all they can do is jack Lilac up on painkillers and wrap her in bandages too.
  • Fates Collide: Mordred impales Edmond Dantes with her sword and warns him not to pull it out or else he will bleed out. He gets so angry that he pulls it out anyway and cauterizes the wound. Martha calls him a moron and says he's lucky he didn't die.
  • Interestingly zigzagged in Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction Prison Island Break. The convicts are absolutely terrible at their own First Aid. On the other hand, Doctor Amy Rose Blossom performs moderately researched treatment on the convicts (even if it is troped up for drama).
  • Miraculous: The Phoenix Rises has St. God's Memorial Hospital. Patients are seen rolling slot machines for healthcare, charges exorbant prices for ambulance rides, and prescribes actual narcotics to patients.
  • This Bites!: During his fight against the Amigo Pirates, Cross gets stabbed in the back by their captain Largo. Rather than let the dagger get in the way, Cross tears it and gets back to defeating his enemies. Of course, his victory doesn't stop a browbeating from a really pissed off Chopper, who makes him sit down for proper treatment.

    Film — Animation 
  • Played for laughs in The Emperor's New Groove when Pacha very reluctantly attempts the "kiss of life" on near-drowning victim Kuzco, only to be repelled when Kuzco-the-llama's tongue pops out of his mouth in a manner resembling a moment from The Ren & Stimpy Show. Mercifully, Kuzco recovers on his own.
  • Subverted in Epic (2013). When a shrunken MK sees Queen Tara dying from an arrow to her chest, she refrains from pulling it out because she's not sure if it's the best thing to do in the situation or not. The queen still dies, but she's clearly beyond help.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The British music movie 24-Hour Party People shows the ultimate in not helping an epileptic fit — Backstage as Joy Division's Ian Curtis has a fit, bassist Hooky, instead of offering any help, bends down and retrieves his cigarettes from Ian's pocket; "he's still got me fags". According to an interview with Q magazine this really did happen, but it was drummer Steve Morris and not Hooky looking for cigarettes.
  • In The Abyss, the female lead has drowned. Her skin is waxy and white, and she's obviously not breathing. The medical team tries CPR, rescue breathing and a defibrillator, all of which fail to do anything. Then, in a moment of desperation, the main character bitchslaps her twice, then shake her for a good 10 seconds, all while desperately screaming a string of curses at her, and she comes right to. It is Truth in Television that it takes a good amount of heating up for a deeply-hypothermic body to resume function, so thinking it's too late when she's not warm enough yet to revive is at least plausible, though there are plenty of other problems with her resuscitation besides that. In the novelization, it's suggested the aliens had a hand in many things, including this.
  • In Alien, when Kane goes into convulsions at dinner, Parker initially tries to shove a piece of plastic flatware between the man's teeth. This would have been useless even if Kane had been suffering a grand mal seizure due to epilepsy, rather than death throes due to Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong.
  • In Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) the opening sequence with the drug bust has a cop performing CPR on his partner. He does it right but it doesn't help. Why? Because it's a gunshot wound.
  • Bon Cop, Bad Cop 2 exploit this when David, being undercover, has to fake treating a real gunshot wound like a criminal with no assistance nor knowledge of medicine on the run would. He refuses going to the hospital or having his daughter use a first aid kit and makes a bandage out of napkins, use coffee and ecstasy to stay awake and dull the pain, use a common needle and dirty a shirt in a litter box to look like he slept outside. A wise move since the Big Bad had a doctor running a blood test before giving him proper aid.
  • Cloverfield, though that could easily overlap with Could Have Been Messy, and their choices in that situation were all bad: lift the victim off the impaling rebar and risk her bleeding out, or leave her in the building when they know that no rescue is coming, but the monster is.
  • In Cold Comes the Night, Billy really should have known better than to yank that glass out of his neck...
  • In Dead Snow, one of the main characters is bitten on the arm by a zombie. He quickly arrives at the logical conclusion that this will turn him into a zombie as well (because that's what he has seen in films), and saws his own arm off with a chainsaw, applying a tourniquet afterward to keep from bleeding to death. As he turns and grins triumphantly, another zombie bites him... in the crotch.
  • In Downsizing, Ngoc Lan overdoses her friend on painkillers, not heeding Paul's suggestion that only two would be enough. The woman was dying of cancer, however, so Ngoc Lan is just happy that she passed away peacefully.
  • Drag Me to Hell has one of the worst displays of CPR on film ever, where the rescuer applies his chest compressions to the victim's shoulder.
  • Dr. Minx: After finding Brian unconscious on the side of the road with an obvious head injury, Carol—who is a doctor—gets David to help her roughly carry him and put him in the back of her car: completely disregarding any possibility of spinal injury.
  • In The Edge, one character fell into a trap and was impaled on a wooden spike. He ends up dying just before the survivors were rescued after the spike was pulled out of his body. It doesn't outright state it, but it's clear he bled out. Since the survivor has a good reason not to let him live, this could be intentional.
  • Feast 3 parodies the Rambo 3 example below. Jean Claude has a wound to his left arm that won't stop bleeding (he's already lost his right arm). Bartender packs the wound with gun powder and lights it. This blows off Jean Claude's remaining arm.
  • In Final Destination 5, a character is getting an acupuncture treatment and is left alone to take a short nap. A fire then breaks out in the room, and he falls off the bed onto the floor, getting impaled by the needles. Still alive, he gets up and immediately pulls out one of the needles, which looks like it may very well have pierced his heart.
  • In Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), after Lauren Griffin gets injured in the leg by shrapnel, the sheer heat and chaos of Godzilla, Ghidorah, Mothra and Rodan battling forces her fellow soldiers to move her promptly while the shrapnel is still stuck in her. And then Barnes has to treat Griffin in an environment that's anything but stable: the back of a Humvee that's constantly swerving frantically for all occupants' lives around rubble, explosions and falling aircraft.
  • Used for comedy in The Heat when Ashburn, who was just getting chewed out by her partner for always thinking she knows better than everyone else, sees a guy next to them in the diner start choking. Ashburn, who had half-watched a medical programmer about tracheotomies earlier in the film, springs into action and nearly kills the guy. The EMT who takes the guy to the hospital minces no words explaining how dumb a move this was.
  • In Hellboy (2019), at one point, Hellboy pulls a massive spear that pierced his shoulder all the way through out of his body, which is the opposite of what you should do in Real Life. Justified, however, because he was in the middle of a battle where not having a sharp piece of metal stuck in your arm might be more important for survival than worrying about blood loss. Also, Hellboy is not exactly human, so it's possible that his approach actually works better for his physiology.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Generally, mouth-to-mouth is not going to work if a drowning victim's lungs are still full of water. When she came to, Amy coughed up what seemed like a gallon of water.
  • An early trailer for Inspector Gadget (1999) shows Gadget going into arrest during the transformation surgery. How does the doctor revive him? He slaps him! The scene didn't make the final film; although obviously meant to be Played for Laughs, Disney probably considered it a bit too much for the intended audience.
  • Zigzagged in Jacob's Ladder, Jacob is given an ice bath when he has a high fever. Cold baths do more harm than good for fevers, but a fever that has gotten advanced enough to cause internal damage will sometimes be cooled down with an ice bath so that the patient doesn't die.
  • James Bond has at least a couple examples of this:
    • In Die Another Day, Jinx is unconscious underwater an awfully long time for her to come to that quickly when James Bond rescues her and just gives her mouth-to-mouth.
    • In another movie, Tomorrow Never Dies, Wai Lin spends quite some time in the water before Bond dives in and gives her a Kiss of Life while still submerged.
  • Subverted in Jurassic Park. Game warden Muldoon and paleobotanist Ellie Sattler find Ian Malcolm delirious, moaning, and with a broken leg, having barely survived a T. rex attack. They want to take him back with them for treatment, but consider the possibility that he has internal injuries they can't see.
    Ellie: Do we chance moving him?
    [T. rex roars somewhere in the vicinity]
    Malcolm: [sits up] Please, chance it.
  • In Kick-Ass, after Dave is hit by a car, the next scene shows the paramedics putting a C-collar on him to immobilize his spine... in the back of the ambulance. Meaning that they have already moved him quite a bit, which makes the whole thing pointless.
  • Subverted in Kung Fu Hustle. Sing had a string of unlikely accidents resulting in being impaled by multiple knives. Bone came to the rescue pulling one out, at which point Sing told Bone that it makes the situation worse. Eager to take care of his friend as well as he possibly could, Bone stabbed the knife back to the original wound again with all his might.
  • After the arguably narmy and Ax-Crazy Craig Toomey of Stephen King's The Langoliers stabs Dinah in the chest and firmly crosses the Despair Event Horizon (along with other ones), one of the passengers on the plane says that he has experience with this kind of thing. What does he decide to do? Pull the knife out. Yep. In any case, it turns out to be the worst aid of all because Dinah dies right after a lengthy conversation with Laurel about how while she never had the operation that would have given her sight, she got what she wanted because she saw through Mister Toomey's eyes. She adds that even dead things were beautiful.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road has, at the climax, one character (Imperator Furiosa) pull something she had been stabbed with out of her side. What happens next is actually pretty realistic, as she looks like death warmed over pretty much immediately, develops a pneumothorax and near exsanguinates until she's given a blood transfusion just in time, and even afterwards is still visibly in rough shape. Director George Miller actually worked in an emergency department, so this doubles as Shown Their Work.
  • The Man from Kangaroo: In a scene that is boggling to modern viewers, John rescues a boy drowning and then holds him upside down and shakes him to get the water out of his lungs.
  • The Marine did similar, where the protagonist's wife is underwater for between twenty to thirty minutes but is resuscitated without serious issue.
  • While it's technically something of an inversion, Million Dollar Baby manages to medically botch an assisted suicide. After a brutal boxing match leaves the protagonist paralyzed and lands her in a care home where things go from bad to worse, she asks her mentor to help her end her life. He does so by removing her ventilator and giving her a lethal dose of adrenaline. In Real Life, not only would this be completely unnecessary (medical professionals must comply with a conscious and competent patient's request to be taken off life support), but death by adrenaline overdose is a fairly awful way to go.
  • In Mission: Impossible III, Michelle Monaghan beats the crap out of her patient — that is, performs multiple precordial chest thumps to restore an asystolic heart. While she should now have a corpse with a broken sternum, this instead brought him back to life. At the very least, they averted Magical Defibrillator earlier in the film when they planned to use the defibrillator to temporarily flatline the patient in order to short out her cranial bomb.
  • My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To: Dwight pulls out a screwdriver that Eduardo drove into his leg. Later, Jessie pulls a knife out of her belly. Treated realistically in both cases. He walks with a limp for the rest of the movie and she dies.
  • In Pod People, one character falls off a cliff, and the other characters respond by picking her up by the legs and shoulders to go find help. Then they pour half a bottle of whiskey down her throat.
  • A scene in Rambo III has Rambo cauterizing a shrapnel wound by cracking open a bullet, pouring gunpowder in the wound, and detonating it, creating a noticeable burst of flame. Aside from the problems of wasting bullets or getting wet gunpowder to spark, what he actually does is create a pretty big pile of dead tissue inside his body, turn a case of internal bleeding into a case of internal gangrene and sepsis risk, and add some burns onto that for good measure. It's a wonder the guy survived.
  • In Red Planet, the female lead resuscitates the male lead, who has suffocated for lack of oxygen. Her method consists entirely of acting like a distressed monkey and hitting his ribcage randomly. Somehow severe beating brings him back to life without any form of assisted breathing.
  • Revenge (2017): Kids, if you happen to find yourself impaled all the way through on a tree branch, do not pull it out. And don't even think about trying to copy that cauterization stunt with a camp fire and a beer can.
  • The Rock invoked this twice in the same fashion, insisting that the only means to help someone who's been exposed to a chemical warfare agent is for them to inject atropine into their heart. Themselves. In a hospital setting, this is valid, but for someone in the field to a) insert a cardiac needle into their own heart, b) not miss or do a pass-through, c) not cause a cardiac laceration, d) administer a medication, and e) not kill themselves doing it while suffering onset symptoms of nerve agent poisoning is beyond credulity. In reality, autoinjectors are used to deliver counter-agents into the thigh muscle.
  • The Ruins... oh, good lord, The Ruins: first, they accidentally drop a guy a couple of stories, discover that he can't move or even feel his legs, and — even though they speculate that he may have a broken back and argue that it is a bad idea — proceed to pick him up between them and move him (horrific crunch noises included). Then they decide to amputate his infected legs by breaking his bones with a rock and cauterizing the stumps with a frying pan. All. On. Screen. All of this on the advice of a pre-med student. Two of them were pre-med students, actually.note 
  • In the Sherlock Holmes parody The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It featuring John Cleese, Watson pulls out a dagger from a still-living human, is told that it will cause bleeding, then puts back the dagger... killing the poor guy. Especially bad as Watson in the original stories is not only a physician, he served in the second Anglo-Afghan War in the (British) Army Medical Corps. You'd think he'd know how to deal with this sort of thing.
    Sherlock: (examining the body) The knife was removed to alleviate the victim's pain. The knife was then re-inserted in an attempt to stem the bleeding. This second insertion was the cause of death.
    Watson: God lord, Holmes, how on Earth could you tell that?
    Sherlock: I was watching you from the doorway, and frankly I couldn't believe my eyes.
  • The four boys in Stand by Me remove leeches from their bodies by simply ripping them off, which in Real Life would cause the leeches to vomit into the wounds and increase the risk of infection. The correct way to remove them is to gently pry both of their mouths off of the skin.
  • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, McCoy tries resuscitating the mortally wounded Chancellor Gorkon. McCoy actually states "Jim, I don't even know his anatomy" and Gorkon is hurt badly enough that McCoy knows it probably won't work, but for diplomatic reasons he has to try and attempts five seconds of light CPR before pounding on his chest—which brings him back just long enough for his last words before he dies.
  • In Star Trek Beyond, Spock is impaled by a piece of metal after their shuttle crash lands on a planet, leaving "Bones" McCoy to perform surgery on him by heating some metal with his phaser and cauterizing the wound once the chunk of metal is out to save Spock's life. He acknowledges that this is only a temporary fix and there's a high chance removing it will cause Spock to bleed to death if he doesn't do it right. He gets better when he's beamed up to Jaylah's ship later on and Bones gives him proper treatment.
  • Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby: Deliberately Played for Laughs when Ricky tries to convince his friends that his psychosomatic paralysis is real by sticking a knife in his leg. Cue montage of everyone jumping around panicking and trying to get the knife out, with one of their more ridiculous attempts consisting of prying the knife out with an other knife.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Sarah takes a bullet to the leg in the final car chase, and fashions a makeshift tourniquet from her shirt. Justified partially because Sarah learned all of her first aid from military veterans, who are taught that if the situation does not allow for proper treatment methodology (such as a situation where you are currently being chased by a murderous robot from the future), you skip to the most extreme solution and move on.
  • Terminator Salvation has some awful examples of this towards the end of the film. First, Marcus Wright's heart stops; he magically gets brought back to life by being jabbed several times with a live electrical cable. Later, the heart-trauma continues when it's found that John Connor's heart has taken catastrophic damage and he's going to die shortly unless he gets a new heart. Cue Marcus stepping up to offer his. In spite of the fact that a heart transplant is a difficult operation in the best of times, and in spite of the fact that no effort is made to determine compatibility (or make sure that John has an adequate supply of anti-rejection drugs, which he would need for the rest of his life), everyone decides to go along with it. They then proceed to plunk John and Marcus down in the middle of a field, where the only shelter from the elements is an overhead canvas. Because who needs silly things like "a sterile surgical theatre" when you're doing open heart surgery?
  • Deconstructed in True Grit. In the original, the protagonist applies the correct treatment for a snake bite and the victim recovers without much damage. In the remake he uses the "suck out the poison method." Said victim loses an arm in the remake. It helps that in the remake they don't have any method to treat it so Cogburn tries to get her to a doctor as soon as possible, but it takes some time....note 
  • In Vantage Point, one of the bad guys is pretending to be a paramedic and gets stuck having to actually work on someone. He does CPR in the laziest and most distracted manner ever since he's in a hurry to be somewhere else. After a minute of apply two or three half-hearted compressions at a time the victim comes to and he just walks off.
  • Victories — Benjamin gets shot in the side, and all he's given is a scarf to use as a makeshift tourniquet. Then he's made to walk miles across the French countryside. Of course this is World War I, and there's no other way of getting Benjamin back to his squad. He's unconscious by the end but Word of God says he survives.
  • X-Men: First Class: If someone's been shot in the back near the spine, you don't move them around and you certainly don't rip the bullet out of the wound, which probably explains Xavier's ultimate paralysis.

  • Anne of Green Gables: Administering ipecac (which is supposed to be for inducing vomiting) to a croup patient. Big no-no now, but was the standard treatment protocol in the early 20th century.
  • A similar occasion comes up in John Birmingham's Axis of Time trilogy when a Marine colonel has to help a military man who's swallowed his tongue during a seizure; the colonel reaches in and pulls the tongue out of the airway. In reality, you can't swallow your tongue, though you can bite it pretty hard; sticking a hand or an object in the mouth to prevent this is a good way to choke the patient, damage the jaw, or damage the hand.
  • Defied in The Belgariad when Adara is shot by an archer: a panic-stricken Hettar is about to pull the arrow out, only to be told quite firmly to leave it in place or else she'd bleed out before reaching medical care. He listens; she's successfully treated.
  • For a story about a trauma surgeon who becomes involved with pirates specifically because they need a doctor, fast, the Web Serial Novel Caelum Lex is probably the worst case of noresearchitis in the entire universe, with a guy only having symptoms of his serious disease when plot needs it, and not having them when the plot needs him healthy, Magical Antibiotics curing "blood poisoning" that allows the supposedly dying character to beat up a guy bigger than she was, all the while dismissing her own fatal illness, pirates Covered with Scars and using a pick-me-up which is like amphetamine on steroids, lots and lots of booze with only token hangovers, a guy getting poisoned and then cured by induced vomiting (and there's nothing wrong with him afterwards), dressing wounds with dirty clothes, another Fantastic Drug used by The Empire for Bedtime Brainwashing and Fake Memories planting. And, of course, We Have to Get the Bullet Out! is treated with all seriousness.
  • In The Dawns Are Quiet Here, the hero is shot in his arm, and the bullet hits a major blood vessel. He then runs for his life and crosses the "impassable" swamp to lose his enemies. After stopping to check his wound, he discovers it was clogged by swamp mud — and decides to just leave it as is, fearing he'll bleed to death if he removes the mud. So he just bandages it over the sleeve. However, a few hours later it becomes clear that the wound got infected, and since that his arm is becoming gradually more useless, and he himself — gradually more sick and feverish. By the end, he keeps himself going purely by mix of sheer will and desperation, and collapses after finishing the job. Distant Epilogue reveals he survived, but lost that arm.
  • In The Dragon Knight, James, with his basic late 20th Century medical knowledge, regards the native 14th century doctors as this sort of people. In one book, The Dragon at War, he ends up saving the elderly Magickian, Carolinus, from two so-called "healers" whose idea of healing was to just cram things down the old man's throat and occasionally bleed him. They would have ended up killing him, if James and his friends hadn't showed up just in time.
    • Then again, later in the same book James himself performs a blood transfusion with a severely flawed understanding of how blood compatibility works, and avoids killing his patient only by chance.note 
  • Fortune De France shows 16th century physicians to be very incompetent. Bloodletting (see real life below) is their solution to every disease.
  • In Halo by Alexandra Adornetto, Bethany pulls a badly injured girl from a car wreck despite the fact that the car was neither on fire nor about to explode. She doesn't do it very well, either. The girl is near-death and bleeding from a head wound, yet Bethany throws the girl's arm over her shoulder and hauls her out of the vehicle.
  • In the original Jurassic Park book, Ian Malcolm is nowhere near as lucid as in the movie, and Muldoon and Gennaro make the decision of moving him themselves (thankfully, there's no immediate threat to put the pressure on them). However, his injuries are severe enough, and he goes without proper treatment so long, that he dies from them near the end of the book. At least, until the sequel.
  • The Last Book in the Universe is one of many works in which a character undergoing a seizure gets a stick stuck in his mouth to prevent him from biting his tongue. In this case, it doesn't quite work as intended — the stick simply breaks in half. (In real life, this is a fortunate outcome, since he could have broken his jaw instead.)
  • The US Army surgeons in Mash curse British army medics for their habitual treatment of casualties with morphine and/or tea. The morphine makes it much harder for the surgeons to work out what is wrong with the wounded soldiers because they are unresponsive and the tea can cause additional infections to internal injuries. More detail from the TV show below.
  • Parodied in Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need, which advises, in case someone is bitten by a poisonous snake (which can be identified by the warning label on its stomach), to apply a tourniquet to the snake.
  • Discussed in the Mongolian novel Oyuun, where the title character's friend is impaled with a knife that has been coated in a poison that will, if it gets through her bloodstream in sufficient doses, stop her breathing. They don't know if the half-coated knife has sufficient dosage to pose a threat or not or if it's such a danger the knife should be pulled, but Oyuun does know better than to remove something impaling someone. Ultimately, she seems to pass out from the poison's side effects when they leave the knife in, but she pulls it out during the climax and saves her friend's lives by stabbing the villain in the back repeatedly. It's the villain's own knife, to boot.
  • In the third book of the Serpentwar Saga, Rupert makes a poultice for Luis' wound out of randomly selected pieces of vegetation and nearly poisons him.
  • In his autobiography Boy, Roald Dahl describes in detail the damage done to his father's broken arm by some nearby onlookers, who drag him by the broken arm.
  • In Septimus Heap Septimus rescues Merrin, who tried to kill him a few minutes before, by jumping in ice-cold water. Sending his dragon away beforehand. FULLY CLOTHED, no less. It almost gets him killed.
  • Bernard Cornwell's Starbuck Chronicles set in the American Civil War features a doctor reviving a man by pouring caustic iodine on his balls. Truth in Television, unfortunately — Civil War doctors really did use this to try and bring people out of unconsciousness and comas. In some cases it was felt that a declining heartbeat could be increased by doing this too.
    Doctor: Works every time. I call it the Lazarus Effect.
  • Spoofed in a picture caption in the first-aid section of Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book: “If the head is bleeding, should I fasten a tourniquet around the neck?”
  • Twilight: After Bella is attacked by James, she's immediately dosed up on morphine, one of the most potent and dangerous painkillers, because apparently Carlisle is able to carry the stuff around with him. As Edward goes to carry her out of the ballet studio. Then there's the bit at the hospital, where Bella's heart stops when she and Edward kiss and the nurses don't notice at all. Even though she just had transfusions and was smashed to bits and was hooked up to a heart monitor. Also, apparently Edward is the one who can tell the nurses when Bella needs to be medicated.
    • Also in one of the later books, Carlisle uses a tourniquet on Bella. Could be argued as Justified because Carlisle originally qualified as a doctor centuries ago, but since he still works as a doctor, you'd think he'd have had to do some continuing education at some point.
  • Words of Radiance (second book of The Stormlight Archive): Highprince Dalinar mentions that he almost wishes he had made major changes all at once despite the trouble it would bring, comparing it to ripping out an arrow rather than leaving it in to fester. Kaladin, who has training as a surgeon, mentally notes that often leaving the arrow in is a better idea as it will staunch the bleeding, but doesn't say anything so as to not undermine Dalinar's point.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • The authors based the medicine cats' remedies on the writings of Nicholas Culpeper from the 1600s. Needless to say, medical science has improved since then, and the authors have repeatedly warned that readers should not attempt to use the herbs on themselves or their pets. Even Secrets of the Clans had one such warning in-character where the medicine cat Leafpool advises the reader to bring their feline friends to a veterinarian.
    • In A Vision of Shadows book 6, The Raging Storm, when Shadowkit has a seizure, a medicine cat tells the other characters that they need to hold him down. In reality, it is recommended that you do not do this with someone having seizures, as it can cause injuries such as dislocation.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 999 (so named for the UK emergency services number) was a show that reconstructed real-life emergency rescues, but in most episodes would have a segment showing what to do if someone is choking, injured, having a heart attack, or similar. They would specifically refer to common instances of Worst Aid and explain to the viewer why such things are dangerous.
  • In an episode of Band of Brothers, Lt. Moose Heyliger gets shot by one of their own soldiers and Captain Winters and Lt. Welsh give him multiple syringes of morphine before the medics arrive. Once Doc Roe arrives on the scene, he angrily informs the duo that they just gave Moose a morphine overdose and that it's more likely to kill him than the bullet wounds are.
  • In one episode of Cadfael, Brother Cadfael administers an emetic to a man who's been poisoned with monkshood. In his defense, it's the 13th century, and he admits himself that it could do as much harm coming up as going down. In the end the victim does die, and a monk who ate from the same brace of birds and similarly "rid himself" of the meal after being informed survives because his wasn't poisoned.
  • Lampshaded in Casualty when the Injury of the Week was a crashed motorcyclist. to highlight how not to do it, the first well-intentioned passer-by was a retired GP in his seventiesnote  who promptly applied the medical awareness of forty or fifty years previously and took the casualty's crash-helmet off so as to give the patient more ease. Or so he thought, as the result of removing the helmet was paraplegia.
  • Parodied in Corner Gas: Brent and Hank move Wanda (specifically, toss her up and down) because they don't believe her back is really hurt... and this makes her get better.
  • Deconstructed in an episode of CSI: Miami. A witness to a stabbing is telling the story and finishes by saying he removed the knife when the victim asked him to... and the investigator is quick to tell him that's the absolute worst thing he could have done as it can lead to fatal blood loss.
  • Deadwood has the traditional "shove something in the seizure victim's mouth" bit at one point, though in its defense the series is set during a time when people actually did think that helped. Swearengen at least has the sense to wave away the guy trying to use a metal ladle: "That'll just knock all the teeth out of his fucking mouth!"
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Smith and Jones": Martha saves the Doctor's life ... with CPR. When the problem was blood loss. And she's supposed to be a medical student. Although, since the Doctor's a Human Alien, it's possible normal human medical techniques may not quite apply.
    • Much, MUCH worse is the entire CPR scene in "The Curse of the Black Spot", where the Narm-driven reason for choosing Amy as CPR operator is suspect, her execution is cringe-worthy, she gives up after less than 2 minutes (which proves the aforementioned suspicions about her to be valid) and there's a potential second operator (the Doctor) just standing around doing nothing.
      • Especially considering that, despite the Doctor not being a medical doctor, it has been shown he does know advanced first aid, and would definitely know how to do CPR. Perhaps it's Rory's fault, seeing as, despite being a qualified nurse, he instructs Amy to do CPR "just like they do on TV". Which, in Amy's defence, she does exactly — she poorly executes it, gives up and starts crying and voilà, Rory is revived!
  • In an episode of Due South, a man is hit by a car and Fraser carries him to the hospital, hoisted over his shoulders. Apparently no one thought to call an ambulance. The justification they give is that he only wanted to be treated by his own doctor. The whole thing turns out to be a conspiracy involving an insurance scam.
  • Emergency! accidentally encouraged this with fans using some of the techniques shown in the series. The producer responded with a disclaimer in the credits that medical methods should only be used by people with proper training in them, and an episode had the paramedics and doctors having to treat a patient who was seriously injured by an amateur applying a medical technique improperly.
  • Typically subverted in ER. There's even an incident in Season 6 where Dr. Kovac tells a cop in a mass shooting scene to stop giving CPR to a victim who suffered a catastrophic headshot.
  • In the Farscape episode "Relativity", Stark performs some Worst Aid on Rygel, being pretty inexperienced, he sews Rygel's wounds shut — effectively sewing the open wound shut, but also manages to sew Rygel's robes into his flesh.
  • Game of Thrones: In "The Lion and the Rose," Joffrey drinks a poison which causes him to choke to death. While nothing would have saved him, Cersei flips him onto his back, ensuring that he suffers a much more painful death by drowning in his own fluids.
  • Horrible Histories:
    • Horrible Histories has the Historical Paramedics, whose patients presumably only survive onslaughts of historically accurate Worst Aid because the Historicals run away when a "proper ambulance" approaches.
    Stuart Geoff: Madam. I'm sorry. We've done all we can do.
    Woman: You've made him worse!
    Stuart Geoff: Yes, that's... pretty much all we can do.
    • Subverting in one Historic Hospital segment, where the Crusader knight is treated by an Ottoman doctor. The doctor prescribes a touch of opium for the pain, makes sure the wound is clean and properly bandaged, and recommends certain foods good for a person recovering from injury and blood loss. Theeeeen the European doctor shows up. Among other things, he recommends immediate amputation because the would might get infected.
  • House of the Dragon: While the Maesters of Westeros know a lot of good medicine for their medieval setting, they still rely on some treatments we now know as outdated or even harmful to the patient.
  • Played for laughs in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, where Doctor Mantis Toboggan claims that the best response to a guy going into convulsions is to gag him and duct-tape him to his seat. This is because Mantis Toboggan is actually Frank Reynolds, who drugged the guy's drink and is trying to keep him quiet. The stewardess quickly starts asking for ID.
  • On Las Vegas, Mike passes out from anaphylaxis while visiting a Wyoming ranch because he's allergic to horses. One of the wranglers injects him with her Epi-pen, and he revives immediately and goes back to hanging around with horses, even though epinephrine injections are a temporary lifesaving measure to buy time for the victim to get to the hospital for observation and possible antihistamine therapy.
  • The Law & Order: SVU episode "Bombshell" has the wonderful scene where a bystander yanked the knife out and his girlfriend tried sticking it back in when it started spurting blood all over.
  • In Longmire, when the Sheriff finds a woman unconscious at the bottom of a tall cliff, he hoists her onto his back and has the deputies lift them both back up, rather than immobilize her in case of spinal injury.
  • Lost:
    • Played straight when Michael is injured by a boar in season 1. Kate put a bandage right over his pant leg.
    • Subverted later: after taking a gunshot to the shoulder in the first season finale, Sawyer proceeds to dig the bullet out of the wound with his fingers, making the wound that much worse and contributing to an infection which leaves him bad shape for the first part of season two.
  • An episode of M*A*S*H lampshades this. When several soldiers from a British unit are brought in Hawkeye complains that the British Army's policy of giving tea to wounded soldiers, including those with belly wounds, leads to tea leaking into the peritoneal cavity causing peritonitis. The British officer agrees that it makes sense and that he'll bring it up with command, but laments "I don't know. If it were anything but tea..."
  • Played for Laughs in My Name Is Earl: When Earl gets shivved in prison, they take it out and put on a Band-Aid. "Apparently, prison health care sucks."
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • When the example from Pod People appeared, with the one character falling off a cliff, being picked up by the legs and shoulders ("Quick, let's fold her"), and then half a bottle of whiskey being poured down her throat, the bots accompanied it by crunching noises and riffs like, "Quick! Move her spine around a lot!"
    • A similar falling off a cliff and being moved around scenario occurs in their presentation of Gamera, complete with the "Move his spine around a lot" riff.
    • In The Land That Time Forgot, the Bots riff "You look dehydrated, have some booze!" when a couple saved from a shipwreck are immediately given brandy by their rescuers.
  • In the Our Miss Brooks episode "First Aid Course", Miss Brooks purposely inflicts Worst Aid on Miss Enright and Mr. Conklin. Miss Brooks was trying to avoid being forced to teach the eponymous course.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Gettysburg", Vince Chance, a paramedic from 2000, sees the low level of American Civil War era medicine first-hand when Nicholas Prentice sends him and his friend Andy Larouche back to 1863.
  • In an episode of Psych, Shawn's captor attempts to treat his bullet wound by duct taping a chamois to the outside of his shirt. Even worse is the fact that he never even bothers to cover the gaping hole that is the exit wound. Also, his captor refers to it as "a flesh wound".
  • In an episode of Sanctuary, while cut off from professional help, Will Zimmerman doses himself with morphine several times despite having sustained a head injury bad enough to temporarily blind him.
  • Lampshaded in Scrubs with the Todd's Miracle Five. To quote Dr. Cox: "Great moment there, dumbass. It starts out with a profound misunderstanding of how the human body works and winds up with you shattering some old man's hand."
  • Stargate:
    • In one later episode of Stargate SG-1, someone who really should be more mature freaks out when he might have to give mouth-to-mouth to General Hammond, and is profoundly relieved when he wakes up on his own.
    • Stargate Atlantis:
      • In "Search and Rescue", Sheppard is impaled in the side by a piece of metal. Ronon yanks it out and bandages the wound. This is wrong in so many ways.
      • Ronon has also pulled an arrow out of his own leg once and popped his dislocated shoulder back into place. (It is possible to fix a dislocated shoulder, but it is incredibly, brutally painful — especially when it's your own.) In another episode, he also has a huge shard of something in his shoulder. The doctor, clearly not familiar with his patient, eventually gives up arguing with Ronon about taking it out and tells him to do it himself. Cue the doctor's frantic protests when Ronon tries to do just that.
      • In an earlier episode, McKay gets slashed in the arm when the Genii decide to torture him a bit, and shows up the next day with a bandage... around his sleeve. Well, he is a bit of a attention-monger, and probably put it there intentionally.
      • In "Brain Storm", a victim of hypothermia is rescued and wrapped in a blanket, but allowed to walk around in the same cold, damp clothes she had previously been wearing. This is presumptively over half an hour after she was rescued. At the very least, people should have been concerned about her catching pneumonia.
  • Captain Archer bandages Shran's leg when he gets a stalagmite stuck through it in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "The Aenar", though Shran lifted his leg off the stalagmite himself.
  • STAT (2022) starts the first episode with a doctor crossing the police tape to an ambulance, who then performs CPR on the patient already being handled by paramedics. At the time, it's presumed he jumped from the building above.
  • Supernatural:
    • An episode has Sam scooping Dean up and cradling him after he'd been hit with enormous force by a car (he got better), with blithe disregard for his spinal column. Moving injured characters for no reason happens on this show a lot.
    • The show varies widely on this one: one the one hand, the ECG is actually showing a shockable rhythm when a defibrillator is used (unlike the vast majority of TV shows, who are lucky enough to have Magical Defibrillators); on the other hand, they attempt CPR on a person who has been shot in the heart. You've got to wonder what exactly they were expecting to achieve there.
  • Sweet Home (2020): A self-inflicted version; Sang-wook "bandages" a wound with duct tape. In real life, this is a terrible idea. Setting aside the fact the tape is covered with god alone knows how many germs, removing it would just tear the wound open again.
  • Teen Wolf:
    • The treatment of Erica's seizures is downright unrealistic. During her first one in "Shape Shifted", Allison instructs Scott to put her on her side while she's seizing. In reality, she would flail violently enough to smack him away if he tried that. You're meant to wait out the seizure and put them on their side AFTERWARDS in case they vomit.
    • In "Restraint", Scott goes ahead and picks her up even though, again, that would be nearly impossible with a real seizure victim. Of course, she was conscious and talking, so maybe Kanima poison-induced seizures are different.
  • The Walking Dead, Andrea decides to prove that Beth isn't suicidal (immediately after the death of her mother and brother) by leaving her alone to do what she wants. Then, when Beth's attempted suicide (which she's spent the entire episode actively seeking) fails, Andrea concludes "She wants to live." No, dumbass, she wants to die, she just didn't do it right.
  • Lampshaded numerous times on World's Dumbest... whenever an idiot gets himself knocked out and the idiots around him do everything you're not supposed to do with an unconscious person.
    "You, slap him! You, shake him! You, pour water in his mouth! Okay, go!"

    Music Videos 
  • The video for "Emotion in Motion" by Ric Ocasek features Ric pouring an unidentified pink liquid into an unconscious woman's mouth. Luckily, it turns out to be a potion that wakes her instantly, but that's just sheer luck given the "unidentified" part. No wonder Ric admitted he had a hard time keeping a straight face while filming that video.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • On the 1989 "The Main Event"—the installment that saw Randy Savage turn against Hulk Hogan during their tag team match against Big Bossman and Akeem—when Miss Elizabeth is knocked unconscious (after Akeem throws Savage onto her), a distraught Hogan rushes to her side and picks her body up without allowing the medics to render proper first aid. In kayfabe, nothing happens—she just "regains consciousness" on cue and sends Hogan back to the ring; had these been real life injuries, her neck could possibly have been broken or internal injuries aggravated to the point of being fatal.note 
  • At a WCW Clash of the Champions show in 1989 (Sept. 12 to be exact), Terry Funk "suffocated" Ric Flair with a plastic bag. Brian Pillman ran in and gave him mouth-to-mouth, using a towel as a mouth barrier. A surprising subversion, nearly a decade before Steve Urkel used a barrier when giving Carl Winslow CPR.
  • One episode of RAW that featured JBL being slammed through the roof of his go-to-the-ring limo. (This was before he went to just announcing.) The medics dragged his "unconscious" body out of the limo by one foot and then got out the neck collar and backboard.
  • An episode of Nitro had one of the wrestlers injured. The paramedics said it looked like a neck injury. Then they moved him on the stretcher... by the neck.
  • After Candice Michelle suffered a concussion and fractured collar bone in a match with Beth Phoenix, released an out of Kayfabe video where Candice was being wheeled out on the stretcher and Stephanie McMahon could be heard offering her water. If someone has suffered a head injury, never offer them food or water, which is likely to cause vomiting and make things even worse.

  • Bleak Expectations: Dr. Anthony Curesomebychance, the doctor Pip Bin calls in when his wife Flora Diesearly comes down with the dread hand of Non-Specific Weakness. Having studied everything about medicine in the 1840s (over a whole week), his ideas consist of crossing Flora's fingers and hoping her condition goes away, crossing his fingers and hoping it goes away, just going away, and... beef. His final suggestion, the miracle substance "pillsandtablets" ends up killing Flora the minute she takes one.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Emmanuel suffers some cracked ribs during an altercation with the Dark Dragon. The other students pick him up and tend to his wound... by wrapping a bandage around his internal injury. Thankfully, he has accelerated healing to actually help him out.
  • Enter and Return fill this role in Dino Attack RPG. This is also an in-universe example seeing as the other doctors (with the exception of Dietrich "Medic" Luzweit) are portrayed slightly more realistically and (understandably) are somewhat uncertain about two paramedics who believe sharks, trees, umbrellas, and envelopes are valid surgical equipment and spend their spare time arguing about their clothes (for the record, they're Always Identical Twins). The humor was even taken further when Dr. Shaw found out to her horror that their boss Dr. Clickitt didn't even know what a medical license is. However it is partially subverted in that their methods can work (although their reliability is debatable).

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, it's possible to accidentally injure or even kill your patient if you try to heal someone and screw up the skill check badly enough.
  • In Feng Shui, the weird arcanotech 'slap patches' from the 2056 juncture have a very good chance of harming an injured character further, rather than healing them. Some players have been known to use them as weapons.
  • In Paranoia, the role of docbots is to show up after a firefight and kill off the survivors. Well, The Computer says otherwise, but when their standard peripherals include surgical chainsaws...
  • One Unknown Armies sample campaign features the player characters coming up to a three-car pileup of twisted metal, and the sheriff on the scene informing the players that they must try to get the crash victims out of the vehicles before the sparking electrical systems and spilled gasoline mix. Characters with any medical skill or a high mind stat are told that doing so is incredibly dangerous when a cell phone exists (not that the MythBusters would agree), the sheriff makes the characters do so anyway. On the other hand, the "sheriff" is the Comte De Saint-Germain and doesn't care whether the crash victims live or die, only that they don't ever have crashed in the first place, and has more than enough power to blow the cars to kingdom come. Players who talk about stabilizing the heads and necks of the car crash victims are encouraged to have better luck or experience rewards, too.
  • Viciously parodied in Warhammer 40,000. Orks most of the time can simply shrug off minor injuries due to their robust biology. However, should an Ork ever become wounded enough to require medical attention, they have to deal with the Mad Doks. Plenty of Orks die on the table when it comes to Mad Doks, and the ones that walk away tend to be a little messed up in the head. The procedure is so painful that the Dok usually has to apply a powerful anesthetic (IE, smacking the patient on the head with something hard) before operating. It's the Orks, so it's all Played for Laughs.
  • In World of Darkness, a person who is untrained in Medicine suffers a pretty serious penalty, enough to reduce the vast majority of people to a situation where they have an 80% chance of doing nothing, a 10% chance of helping, and a 10% chance of a "dramatic failure", which is defined as something that makes the situation actively worse. Needless to say, most groups actively prevent a character with no training in this area from administering the help to injured players (assuming they have a choice).

    Video Games 
  • Amateur Surgeon puts you in the role of a Back-Alley Doctor charged with curing people who are literally Too Dumb to Live. Since you're not an actual surgeon, your tools are more make-shift, such as using a chainsaw to cut through ribcages.
  • Arknights: Due to her tendency to get into fights and losing her medical bag, Gavial often knocks out her patients with a very hard hit to the head, dubbed "Gaviallic kinetic anesthesia".
  • Discussed in Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel. The first revival item the party can get is a syringe, and in an optional skit, the characters dicuss how dangerous this is, since the don't known if it's intravenous or intramuscular, where to apply it, or the proper dosage. Consequently, they decide to only use them if things get dire (Gameplay and Story Segregation aside). When a professional MD later joins the party, later skits indicate he's been giving the other characters pointers on safely treating each other.
  • Played for Laughs in the Assassin's Creed series, where you can hear doctors in Italy hawking their wares, including mixtures that include things like lead and suggesting bleeding for most ailments. Nowadays we know most of what they sold is either snake oil or flat out dangerous, but this was normal at the time.
  • Roland from Borderlands can get a skill that lets him heal teammates by shooting them with his gun. But parodied with Doctor Zed, who nonchalantly kills a patient with botched surgery in a Black Comedy scene in Borderlands 2, which nets an item for the Player Character.
    • Early in the second game, Dr. Zed asks the player character to "make a small incision" on the chest of the bandit he's operating on. You do this by Quick Melee-ing the bandit. This somehow works even if you're playing as Gaige or Salvador, who either whacks them with a claw hammer or just straight-up punches them.
  • Darkest Dungeon: The Occultist can either be your best healer or your worst because of this trope; Wyrd Reconstruction, implied to be an eldritch form of battlefield surgery, can heal over twice as much damage as a Vestal's Divine Grace, but it can also heal 0 hit points. And cause bleeding damage. And when used on a hero at death's door, it can either save them effectively or indirectly kill them.
  • Dead Island 2: At the beginning of the game, the Slayer wakes up with a piece of metal debris lodged in their stomach. Their first mistake is removing the metal, which leads to them beginning to bleed out. Then they try to disinfect the wound with a bottle of whiskey. Then they grab a first aid kit, inject themselves with a mystery drug, put a bandage over the wound, and call it good. There are no ill-effects for the lack of proper treatment nor the excessive movement immediately after as they climb through the wreckage of a plane as if nothing happened.
  • Played for laughs in Deadpool (2013), where Deadpool attempts to revive an unconscious Wolverine (who has a Healing Factor and is thus at no danger of permanent damage) with repeated "Miracle Bitchslaps to the face." It doesn't work, though you can earn an Achievement by hitting him enough.
  • You can increase your health (even above 100%!) with alcoholic drinks and painkillers in Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: The Fall. This still works, with no ill-effects, if you take them at the same time.
    • You're also a heavily augmented human being with an optional extra that actively affects pheromone production/emissions. Suffice to say you're probably not metabolizing those substances in a normal way.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, you heal with poultices. As in, the stuff you rub on the wound (though it's likely just being used as an alternate word for "potion"). The animation accompanying use of a poultice is drinking it. Though oddly, the icons are actually poultices. Guess they just had the animation the same as Lyrium potions to save time. This gets a Lampshade Hanging in Dragon Age: Inquisition where one character complains to another that his healing potion tastes terrible, to which the healer snarks that you're not supposed to drink a poultice.
    • Which is the inverse of potions in Final Fantasy, which are used by sprinkling it over someone. Or occasionally throwing the bottle into their face.
  • In Dwarf Fortress, occasionally dwarven diagnosticians and surgeons will do some astoundingly stupid things in the course of 'medicine,' such as not sewing a dwarf's intestines back inside them during surgery or leaving arrows (or a ballista bolt) in wounded dwarves while they recover. Summed up beautifully by this post on the community forums, wherein an unskilled dwarf misdiagnoses a minor cut on the arm. Hilarity Ensues; it gets misdiagnosed as rotten lungs. And yes, the surgeon amputates both of them.
  • Most likely due to the limitations of the engine, Fallout and Fallout 2 implement the First Aid and Doctor skills by causing the player character to wave his arms in front of the patient. Also, a first aid kit or doctor's bag are helpful, but not necessary (Fallout Tactics at least requires the appropriate medical kit to use the associated skills).
    • Two sidequests in Fallout: New Vegas require you to treat some patients in critical but stable condition. If your Medicine skill is sufficient you'll perform proper treatments (with congratulations from the attending doctor, who presumably is taking notes), but if it's insufficient you'll end up killing the patients in rather horrific ways, such as attempting a tracheotomy on a patient with a simple allergic reaction (he bleeds to death). You can also kill Caesar with improper brain surgery during "Et Tumor, Brute?" - or, wrapping this trope around into ridiculousness, heal him of that tumor with no medical skills, a lot of Luck, and no idea how the hell you even did it.
    • The Y-17 trauma harness in "Old World Blues." See all the notes about how you should be very careful when moving a patient, and preferably not move them at all? Try a suit of armor that takes over the wearer's movements when they're badly wounded and then tries to walk their body to the nearest hospital. It's noted that the Y-17's method of transport killed most of its users far more effectively than their actual injuries, and even if it didn't, the harnesses also had issues with being overly sensitive (some would start walking back to a hospital at the slightest injury, if not for no reason) and the possibility that there was no defined hospital for them to walk back to — most Y-17 suits you can find are still walking around with the skeletons of their long-dead patients inside.
    • After James leaves Vault 101 in Fallout 3, the resident Mister Handy robot, Andy, is assigned to be the Vault's Auto-Doc. Beatrice meets her demise at his hands when he attempts to treat her sprained left big toe, but ends up amputating her right leg instead. Let's be clear - the amputation was the treatment, but Andy screwed up which leg had the injured toe.
  • Far Cry:
    • Far Cry 2 requires the player to perform quick "medical care" in the field when injured if his or her health drops to one bar. This generally involves resetting broken bones with your bare hands (which promptly begin working immediately), pulling pieces of shrapnel and stray branches from your gut (which doesn't cause the wound to start spurting blood all over the place - in fact, it's backwards from reality, since having that there is apparently what causes your last bar of health to bleed out until you remove it), and removing bullets with (dirty) pliers, all without even bandaging the wound up and immediately getting back into the fight. If your health is at least two bars, healing involves simply injecting yourself with a shot of morphine. If a buddy is critically injured, you can heal them simply by injecting them as well. Otherwise, the only options are comforting them in their passing or blowing their brains out to hasten it.
    • Far Cry 3 tones it down and adds a little realism to it.note  Makeshift surgery is reserved to when you have no medication or other healing items, removing foreign objects has Jason immediately bandage the wounds to try and reduce bleeding, and the act only heals a little. It should be noted, however, that Jason still does downright stupid things that include removing a bullet with a dirty stick or his teeth. And, as an extra aside, the RPG Elements in the game allow you to upgrade how effective makeshift surgery is, meaning Jason at the end of the game can potentially remove a bullet with a dirty stick or set a broken thumb to completely recover from all the damage he's recently taken. Far Cry 4 reuses these animations so Ajay is just as adept at full-body healing by treating his arm.
    • This is parodied mercilessly in Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon — your first aid animations consist exclusively of ridiculous things, like fixing your cybernetic arm with a welding torch he pulls out of nowhere and flexing a grip strength bar to generate electricity.note 
    • Vaguely justified in Far Cry Primal; it's the Stone Age, after all, so medicine as a concept doesn't really exist yet. Resetting broken bones, removing arrows and other foreign objects and eating a big chunk of meat (the game's replacement for syringes) is about all that could reasonably be done. Interestingly, some of the animations involve the protagonist covering smaller wounds with a type of brown paste. In-universe, there's a tragic case of Worst Aid that is not the practicioner's fault. The Udam are dying from a sickness they call "skull fire", which they believe to be a punishment from their gods. They hope to cure themselves by eating Wenja and Izila tribesmen, who are not infected with "skull fire". The player, thousands of years later, will recognize "skull fire" as actually being kuru, a sickness caused by cannibalism. Which means that the Udam's attempts to cure themselves are only infecting themselves further.
    • Played With in Far Cry 5. The game lacks any healing animations such as removing bullets and resetting bones. Instead, the deputy actually bandages themselves up with a collectible medkit. It makes sense, given that unlike the protagonists of previous games, the deputy would have some kind of first aid training. However, if you or any allies fall into critical condition, all you have to do is pick them up from the ground to completely heal them. And yes, any companion can revive you. This includes the animal Fangs for Hire, which revives you from critical injuries by licking your face.
    • Far Cry: New Dawn is somewhere in the middle of 5 and 3. There are more animations for healing than in 5, and a lot of them make sense; bandages, pill bottles full of strong painkillers and even a transdermal patchA What? . Some of them, however, border on useless to harmful; the Syringe used in one animation is noticably filthy, and another uses a tourniqet (your character never gets poisoned or loses a limb, so literally all that would do is cut off circulation).
    • As for Far Cry 6...well, that seems closer to 2 more than anything. It is slightly justified as Yara is said to be running low on resources, which includes proper first-aid materials. For example, bandages have been replaced by duct tape this time around. Other animations include swallowing a load of pills, cauterising a bullet wound with a cigar (not exactly sanitary)...or just chugging a whole bottle of rum. Oh, and dislocations return, as does removing bullets with pliers. At least the healing syringe is clean this time.
  • In Fear & Hunger, you can suffer from infection on wounded limbs from enemies or rusty nails, killing the victim if left untreated. The solution? If you don’t have any green herbs, the next best thing is hacking off the limb with a rusty bonesaw, and since you can obtain a powerful spear via four severed humanoid arms and a decent accessory from hacking off Moonless’s paw, you might even do so anyways. How the rusty bonesaw itself doesn’t give you an infection, especially on repeat usage, is a mystery. While it could be slightly justified with ghouls and skeletons (who are a bit too dead to care), the fact you can do so on party members with no reaction is baffling.
  • The Getaway is a particularly fine example. You've been shot multiple times? No problem! Just lean on this wall for a bit. It even launders clothes.
  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the medical personnel can magically revive people who died from gunfire, explosions, and fire just with CPR, and have the balls to do it in an area an insane gunman (I.E. you) is still shooting up. That pales in comparison to all the people they run over in their pursuit of saving a single life.
    • Grand Theft Auto V takes this up a notch. Not only can the paramedics no longer revive civilians, but if the ambulance or the paramedics are hit by a car, they will drag the offending NPC out of their car and beat the crap out of them.
  • The use message for Doc Galaktik's Vitality Serum in Kingdom of Loathing lampshades the game's use of this trope in the name of Rule of Fun:
    You open the bottle of vitality serum, and chug the contents. That is probably not the correct dosage, but who wants half-empty serum bottles clogging up their inventory?
  • In Left 4 Dead, you heal yourself or others by wrapping bandages on your/their clothing, and always in the same spots, too. Or, if you're in a hurry, by swallowing an entire bottle of painkillers, enough to kill an average person.note  Lampshaded in the sequel, as the survivors will tell each other as they're doing it that they don't know exactly what they're doing. It still works, somehow.
    • The sequel also has adrenaline shots which the survivors will jam into their thighs pretty hard and not even bothering to check where on the leg they are injecting the stuff, and you can use it several times without any drawbacks. Adrenaline is mainly used for people with an allergic reaction or suffering from a heart attack to help stabilize the body.
    • Due to a programming oversight with the survivor AI, they will often try and heal players at the most inconvenient times, such as when they're trying to move somewhere safe, or in rare cases in the middle of combat — getting stuck right in the middle of Spitter goo and having your feet melted off because Coach decided the cry of said Spitter was the call to heal you is infamously a more common occurrence than it should be. The only way to get them to stop is to stop what you're doing and pull out your own first aid kit or pills, which you may not have. On the higher difficulties, this distraction can be lethal.
  • LEGO Island: Parodied with paramedics Enter and Return, who are probably any emergency victim's worst nightmare. Whenever there's an emergency, their first move is to load the ambulance with a megaphone, a shark, a tree, as well as an umbrella just in case it gets hot outside or a mailbox if they have to mail a letter. They then go to multiple emergencies at once, and stuff every injured person into the ambulance, on the same stretcher. It was also implied that on at least one occasion, Enter and Return dropped a patient and left him.
  • Healers and Medics in Makai Kingdom favor the Syringe, which is as big as a person and filled with an unknown colorful liquid. Using its primary attack, the wielder leaps onto a target, stabs them with the rapier-sized needle, and heals them. Its secondary attack allows the wielder to place on the ground point-up and slam a victim onto the tip five times before throwing them away like trash. This transfers five amounts of health from the victim to the wielder. Since you need to use a weapon many times before unlocking the next attack, it's not uncommon for healers to follow allies around and injecting them even when they're healthy already.
  • Mass Effect 3 has the Over-the-Shoulder Carry variant after the Virmire Survivor is injured on Mars. What makes this one so egregious is the victim clearly has serious head and neck injuries after having their head viciously bashed against a wall. Granted, the team did have to get out of there as fast as possible, but Shepard had two other squadmates there who could have helped carry them in a much less spine-destroying fashion. This may explain why they spend half the game in the hospital.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the treatment for being bitten by a leech is to burn it off with a cigar. If you do this to a leech in real life, it will vomit into the wound and increase the risk of infection. The correct way to remove a leech is to gently pry its mouths (yes, mouths; they have two of them) off of the skin. Usually it's done with one's fingers, but Snake still resorts to using the cigar...even though he's equipped with a combat knife.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, at the end of Act 3, Drebin just yanks a knife out of Snake's shoulder, and aside from an initial blood cloud upon removal, he seems to be fine. Why Drebin didn't wait until they were back on the plane is a mystery.
  • Modern Warfare makes the curious mistake of having the computer-generated NPCs do CPR wrong. The usual justification for the sort of "bent elbows" CPR (see here) common in media mentioned in the opening of this article doesn't really apply. In this case it seems to be a case of art imitating art, even after the reason has disappeared. Another theory is that in the age of motion capture work being used to give the most natural realistic looking movements in games, the team used to play the NPCs couldn't do straight arms without hurting the actor playing the injured person, so it's been grandfathered in even though actual actors are no longer used.
  • An old PC/Mac Roman-fantasy RPG by the name of Nethergate was designed that if you attempted to administer first aid with too low of a skill in such, you had a chance to actually deal damage instead, usually enough to kill the person in question if they were in a scenario that was deserving of first aid in the first place.
    • The first three Avernum games, which ran on the same engine, had the same rule. Since for some reason, the First Aid skill could only be used once per day, and players typically didn't bother to put points in it, this generally meant you were better off just using White Magic to heal yourself.
  • Optional in The Oregon Trail. You can administer proper medical treatments, but sometimes you're in a different mood, and choose to rub ice on frostbite note , rub salt on infected wounds (resulting in gangrene), or advise the guy who was bitten by a rattlesnake to get plenty of exercise. They die soon afterward.
    • You can also administer treatments that are a bit different, not so much as evil as ineffective. For example, giving olive oil to someone with a cold (which likely won't do much), or giving them vinegar (not exactly what they need; but it might kill bacteria in the throat) or putting alcohol on a sprain (probably not going to relieve pain, unless it's the drinking kind of alcohol, and you put it in their mouth).
  • In Radiant Historia, one of the best healing items available is the Tourniquet (which "stings like crazy when applied").
  • In Rainbow Six: Vegas and Vegas 2 you heal your injured teammates by jamming a needle into them. Anywhere on their body. Your ally could have been filled with lead and all that's required to get them back in the fight is a needle stab to the face, groin, or foot coupled with a quick, motivational "You're good to go." To top it off, the needle is removed in a manner that's very likely to snap the end off.
  • Resident Evil:
    • In Resident Evil 2, when Leon is injured, Ada dresses the wound... by wrapping the bandages outside his clothes. In this case it's Rule of Perception, since if she takes the uniform off, applies the bandage, and then puts the uniform back on, all off screen, the bandage won't be visible, leaving the audience to wonder if she did anything. This is corrected in the 2019 Remake, where Ada dresses Leon's wound by removing his entire left sleeve before wrapping his injury. The bandage is plainly visible on his bare left arm for the remainder of the game.
    • Lampshaded and justified in Resident Evil 6. When Sherry is impaled by a large shard of metal, Jake initially refuses to remove it, knowing that they would bleed out in seconds. They insist, and reveal their Healing Factor from the G-virus within her body, which mutated after she received the vaccine in the second game.
    • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard has Ethan getting his hand sawed off in the first minutes of the game, then reattached by staples, and he constantly heals his health by pouring antibiotics onto it. It's justified by Ethan being infected by the Mold, giving him a Healing Factor.
  • In the multiplayer for Return to Castle Wolfenstein, the Medic's only answer for reviving downed teammates who have been shot, stabbed, burned, or even blown up is to stab them with a syringe full of mystery chemicals. Plus, in the case of heavily wounded teammates, some medics won't even bother going through the effort of healing them and will kill the wounded teammate so he can revive him to full health instead.
    • Likewise, modern-set Battlefield games do the exact same thing, except with defibrillators instead of syringes. This also crosses over with Healing Shiv as well, since those very same defibs can be used to kill opposing players.
  • In Return to Mysterious Island 2: Mina's Fate, Mina's leg wound must be treated by using decapitated ant heads as impromptu sutures. This much is an actual medical technique, used by the Maasai people. You make the living ant bite the two sides of the wound together and rip its body off, leaving the pincers still in you, and it tends to actually work. What makes this fall squarely into Worst Aid territory is that you then apply raw herbs and a puddle-dipped rag to the wound—and that all of these items are procured by a wild monkey, all species of which are likely carriers for pathogens transmissible to humans.
  • Rimworld lets the player assign a pawn to be a doctor, giving medical care to the other pawns. This doctor may or may not have any skill points whatsoever in medicine — there's also nothing stopping the player from assigning this role to a blind, arm-less pawn, which naturally has an effect on the doctor's chance of successful treatment. When a doctor-pawn decides to perform surgery, it is entirely possible that the patient will end up with a lethal cut to the neck for a leg-amputation.
  • Robinson's Requiem. There are both abundant sorts of injury and disease you can catch, and a given, realistic treatment for each, but the game does little to stop you from mismatching them until you die. To wit.
  • In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, the antagonist commits Seppuku, and you need him alive. Solution? Oh, just rip that knife right out of him. Worse, Lambert will explicitly call this "stabilizing" him. Just for good measure, shoot the windows out of the underwater base (did we mention you're in an underwater base?) so you can carry him while swimming. Also, in this life-or-death situation where seconds count, Sam takes the time to respectfully set the knife down.
    • In the same game, players can heal damage by using a first aid cabinet. While this seems fine at first glance, it soon becomes apparent he just grabs the first bottle in reach from a cabinet he doesn't own, and then takes a large swig without reading it. If this wasn't bad enough, multiple uses mean he grabs different bottles each time, meaning he could be swallowing pretty much anything.
    • The original game seems to poke fun at this, however, where an NPC in the Kalinatek mission requests you carry him to the medical office to treat gunshot wounds. Fisher promptly carries him there across his shoulders like he would for any other unconscious or dead guard he's stuffing in the shadows to avoid alerts - and said NPC exposits for maybe a minute more before bleeding out and dying.
  • Surgeon Simulator 2013. A successful heart surgery is the patient having their ribs knocked off, their lungs laying on the floor, their hearts cut out, and a new heart just dropped into the guy's chest. "I am sure he will be fine."
  • Team Fortress — the original one that was a Quake mod — has the medic class heal people by hitting them with his axe.
  • The sequel, Team Fortress 2, gets in on the Comedic Sociopathy angle by giving players access to a new weapon, the Crusader's Crossbow. The Medic can fire at enemies to harm them, or he can fire it at his allies to increase their health.
    • The Doktor is more or less this trope incarnate. While performing open-heart surgery he has the patient hold their chest cavity open while he pushes the organ (which in this case is actually a "mega baboon" heart, since turning his medigun beam on the Heavy's actual heart made it immediately explode) up through the bottom of their ribcage before pointing his "side-effect of healing" weapon at them. Also: "Don't worry, ribs grow back! [whispers to his bird] No they don't." All of this is done without gloves. Gloves he later puts on to kill people with.
      [A dove covered in blood climbs out of Heavy's torso]
      Medic: (shooing the bird) Archimedes! No! It's filthy in there!
    • He lost his medical license because of someone's entire skeleton going missing for a nondescript reason, and he considers the Hippocratic Oath to be a suggestion at best — he can even get a bust of Hippocrates with a plaque reading "Do No Harm" and bash enemies over the head with it.
    • He's even wrong about the ribs. Ribs can grow back, if they're properly shortened.
    • And then came comic #6, "The Naked and the Dead", in which his treatment for everyone concerned having their blood drained out was to pour it into open wounds from a bucket. Against all reason, it works.
      Miss Pauling: Wait, how'd you separate out the blood types?
      Soldier: Har! "Different types of blood"! Miss Pauling came back stupid!
      Medic: (to Soldier) Ha! Yes. What foolishness. (sotto voce) Miss Pauling, I've been using my own underwear to sponge blood out of puddles. Trust me, the type is the least of your problems.
  • Theme Hospital contains a number of eye-watering 'treatments' for a series of equally improbable and silly diseases, like curing 'slack tongue' by cutting it off with a cardboard knife or 'big head syndrome' with a very big needle and a tank of helium. All of it falls under Played for Laughs, of course.
  • Tomb Raider (2013): Within the opening moments of the game, Lara falls onto a piece of rebar and is impaled through the gut by it. She then proceeds to pull it out, and said wound getting aggravated or worse impedes her progress more than once over the course of the game.
    • Roth also gives Lara CPR at one point, and while it looks better than some examples, he administers it right next to a burning plane that explodes right after he is done, which violates the first rule of emergency medicine which is to ensure scene safety.
  • The Walking Dead bears many examples over the course of the series, largely thanks to the fact that proper medical treatment is almost impossible to find in a Zombie Apocalypse.
    • Season 1 has a character bitten on the wrist by a walker and, depending on player choice, trying to save himself by cutting his arm off. The only tools he uses for this procedure are a torniquet, a bonesaw, and some bandages. Unsurprisingly, he dies regardless of whether he removes the limb or not.
    • Season 3 depicts a character getting shot in the abdomen, and if Javier goes with her instead of staying with Clementine, he ends up needing to force the wound to stay open by pulling it apart with most likely unwashed hands while a doctor goes fishing for the bullet.
    • Two separate examples in The Final Season. The first instance is when AJ gets shot by a raider, forcing Clem to pry buckshots out of his stomach with a dirty knife while another character holds him down and keeps him quiet. The second and more egrigeous example is in the final episode, when Clementine is bitten. Instead of killing or leaving her behind, AJ decides to amputate her infected leg with the ax he and Clem have been using to kill walkers with for the past few in-game hours. He then cauterizes the wound and pours walker guts all over her to mask her scent. Despite the fact that she should have gangrene from the cauterization or still be infected because of the guts on her body and on the ax that removed her leg, she makes a full recovery.
  • In World of Warcraft bandages heal everything, be it slashes, blunt trauma or damage done by any sort of magic. However, they are not really effective—in combat the best they can do nowadays is heal Scratch Damage while anything more serious or urgent requires actual healing magic, and out of combat they are outshone by simply sitting down and eating something. What's even worse: Receiving damage interrupts the bandaging process. A possible source of damage? Bleeding.
  • Played for Laughs in one of the side missions in Yakuza 0; Majima infiltrates a cult to rescue a woman's daughter, culminating in him beating the crap out of the cult leader when he tries to stop them. As Majima leaves with the girl, the rest of the cultists rush in to help their leader, who demands they call an ambulance so he can go to a hospital. Instead, they plop down and start doing the bogus healing prayers he taught them, ignoring his pleas for proper medical attention.
  • Lampshaded in the Zero Punctuation review of inFAMOUS.
    Yahtzee: And, lest we forget, you can shoot various flavors of lightning out of your arse. Some of those flavors do seem a bit ridiculous, like electric healing—since everyone knows that 50,000 volts is just the thing for a collapsed lung.
  • In both Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Middle-earth: Shadow of War, you can have Uruk captains that cheat death and survive their attempted murder at the hands of Talion. However, many of them will have gruesome scars that have a chance at changing their identities. The Uruk docotrs, known as sawbones, will often patch these captains up with gruesome results (According to the Appendices, sawbones also moonlight as cooks, given their tendencies to cut meat). After cheating death, the scars Uruks can be seen with include:
    • Crude stitches all over their faces.
    • Metal plates nailed into their skulls.
    • Exposed skulls/brains.
    • Metal jaws.
    • Crude amputations of arms/legs.
    • Widespread burns/sickly blisters/wraith curses with black veins.
    • If there are multiple scars on top of each other, the unfortunate captain can have their face covered by a bag/metal shell.

    Web Animation 
  • A minor case in Helluva Boss. In the episode Murder Family, Blitzo is shot in the arm by the target after their assassination mission goes awry. After the situation has been dealt with, Moxxie helps Blitzo off the ground by his injured arm.
  • Klay World: Despite this being a world where people are regularly subjected to the most bizarre deaths imaginable, the only medical assistance is provided by Dr. Bob, who means well but always finds a way to botch up the procedure, and ends up accidentally murdering the people he tries to save, along with the occasional innocent bystander.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Played with after Sarge gets shot in the head. Due to the limits of the physics engine, the creators took the limited actions the characters could do and had them Played for Laughs.
      Sarge: What-what happened here?
      Simmons: Sir! You got shot in the head, so we gave you CPR and saved you, sir!
      Sarge: I've always believed in you, Simmons.
      Simmons: Uh... actually, it's Grif you should thank, sir. He did all the work.
      Sarge: Grif?
      Simmons: Yes, sir.
      Sarge: Grifwhy in hell would you give somebody CPR for a bullet wound in the head? That doesn't make a lick of sense!
      Grif: (sigh) You're welcome, sir.
      Sarge: I mean, it's also damn inconsistent! What would you do if they stabbed me in the toe? Rub my neck with aloe vera?
    • It doesn't help very much, and is even frequently lampshaded, when they get an actual medic—a medic who thinks CPR is a perfectly acceptable treatment for a bullet wound to the head, rubs Caboose's neck with aloe vera when Church shoots Caboose in the foot to get Doc to help in a firefight (Caboose loses his pinkie toe), and has no clue what his medical scanning device actual means. As Doc himself said: Doctors make you better, medics make you more comfortable while you die. It doesn't help at all that, as he admitted to Church, he never even passed the MCAT to get into medical school in the first place.
    • Despite his failings, Doc does seem to have some measure of success. He diagnosed Tucker as pregnant (which he was, thanks to a parasitic alien spore), apparently helped save Wash's life at the end of Revelations, and was revealed to have explicitly saved Donut's life some time between the end of Revelations and episode 15 of Season Ten.

  • Awful Hospital: The titular Hospital has pretty scary medicinal practices. Justified due to it not being set up with humans in mind.
    • During the fight with Dr. Man, the Bandage creature continued trying to heal Man on reflex after it was poisoned. This doubled his injuries instead of helping him.
  • Terra: After the UEC air raid on the Resistance base Agrippa finds Eve in the ruins of the base with a chunk of conduit stuck through her abdomen. He shoves it out through her back. Several commenters called the authors on this.

    Web Original 
  • The title character of Doctor Moley Can Help, a web series by the creators of Chad Vader, is a doctor who had a disturbing obsession with pills. It regularly gets to the point where he has a pill of some sort for nearly every problem including pill overdose. Dr. Moley openly frowns upon more commonplace medical procedures. In fact when explaining his solution to pill overdoes, he made a point of stating that you need to shove a wet towel under your door to keep the ambulance from getting to you before you take another pill, because you know, it's not like you'll be comatose or anything.
  • Played for Laughs in The Gumdrops. Robbie gets stabbed in the wrist with a pen and is seen later with a decently applied bandage. But the fact that he fell off the chair and hit the kitchen floor when he was stabbed doesn't seem to have been accounted for.
  • In Mad Because Small, a Running Gag in the series is someone asking for some Tums whenever they're Impaled with Extreme Prejudice. Alphinaud points out in one instance that it doesn't work like that. Another portion has the main character, "Baby", ask for 10ccs of "Tetracortolmethodone" when Y'shtola is struck down by Zenos; the very next scene has "Baby" ask what they meant when they said they were taking her medical license.
  • In the The Onion short, "World's Oldest Neurosurgeon Turns 100," a 100 year doctor continues to do neurosurgeries, even though he can't hold a scalpel straight, his memory is bad enough that he is unsure if he has completed 800 or 3,000 surgeries, he is a stroke victim himself, and his medical degree indicates he is licensed to treat the "Bad Humors of the Brain". We are briefly shown newspaper clipping of at least five patients who died from his operations.
  • Scott The Woz: Jerry Attricks' method of scanning Scott's brain in "Borderline Forever" couldn't be anymore incompetent if he tried. First, he refuses to use an actual CAT scan machine in favor of just looking into Scott's ear with a flashlight. Then, he induces sleep with a frying pan to Scott's face. Next, he tries to soothe Scott by clamping a pillow over his face and switching that out for a gun to his head when Scott calmly notes he's suffocating. Finally, he tries to bring Scott out of waterboarding him. Which somehow actually works.
  • In SF Debris's review of the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Innocence," he notes the position of the wounded Goldshirt outside of a crashed shuttle and suggests that in order for the Goldshirt to get into this position, Tuvok would have had to have "hauled the guy with the back injury far enough to likely paralyze him but close enough that he'll still die if the shuttle explodes." Though he does suggest the possibility that Tuvok was being incompetent on purpose, after Janeway ordered the elimination of a Goldshirt who knows too much.

    Western Animation 
  • All Artificial Respiration in cartoons takes the form of the Schafer method, lying the victim on his/her belly and shoving upwards and forwards from below the diaphragm. In cartoons this always squirts water comically from the mouth. Not a method used much nowadays.
  • On Adventure Time, when a bear is choking on nuts, Finn slaps a book on its back to save it. In reality, you should never do this. It will just make things worse. It will also get you mauled.
  • Anytime Beavis And Butthead attempt to treat their own (or each other's) injuries, they'll inevitably end up making things worse.
  • In the episode "The Ninja" of Dan Vs., the show's Butt-Monkey, Chris, gets poisoned. When the paramedics arrived the senior confirms the patient is poisoned. The rookie paramedic panics and needlessly uses a defibrillator. As a bonus (perhaps due to lack of research) the rookie did it without applying the gel or putting them on the right parts of the chest. The senior paramedic then berates the rookie for his mistake.
  • In the episode "Teabeanie Falls" of Disenchantment, Sorcerio, trying to treat King Zøg's bullet injury, does several things that only worsen the King's situation. For example, he deduces that, since dirty rats spread illness, then clean rats should spread healing, and pours several of them over the King, not caring that one rat is trying to get into Zøg's body through the hole. Since he is part of a secret society that wants to take over Dreamland, it is implied he is deliberately giving Worst Aid to Zøg so he will die, taking advantage of the kingdom's lack of knowledge about healthcare to get scot free.
  • In one episode of Family Guy, Peter gets his CPR card and Hilarity Ensues. Upon witnessing a minor fender-bender in which both men quickly check for injuries and find that they're both perfectly okay, he introduces himself as "Peter Griffin, CPR" and begins unnecessarily performing the procedure on one of the men before attempting to remove his pants because he "need[s] to see if you soiled yourself." His CPR card is quickly revoked.
  • In Futurama, Dr. Zoidberg is an extreme example, whose ability to distort his patients' bodies and have them somehow survive would be impressive if it were not The Future! One episode revealed that being "zoidberg" is a term for an incompetent doctor. Said episode involved a Chain of Deals with the Planet Express crew—except that the deals are surgery. By the end of treating Fry's stabbed hand Fry is turning into a Smurf, Leela has several extra vertebrae, Hermes has had his missing vertebrae replaced with someone else's body from the waist down, Scruffy is a head on a foot, Amy is hypnotized, and Bender has somehow become incontinent. Fortunately an Actual Doctor is able to fix most of it.
  • In Samurai Jack (2017), Jack gets stabbed near his stomach and falls into a river with the knife still deep in the wound, after pulling the knife out and losing consciousness he sews up the wound with an animal's bone shard and tree bark without disinfecting it, likely causing bacteria to enter considering that it had already been ample time since he removed the knife.
  • South Park has Hell's Pass Hospital, surely the worst hospital in any work of fiction ever, whether the desired effect is comedic or dramatic. If Kenny is taken there, he will die, but it's a miracle that any of the kids taken there survive due to regular incompetence. The head doctor does not have the faintest idea what's wrong, looks ridiculous by confirming that an exploded body is indeed dead, and diagnoses acts of physical bullying as serious medical emergencies. The staff has also replaced Kenny's heart with a baked potato in Bigger, Longer & Uncut, sent Butters to a vet because he was made up as a dog in "Good Times with Weapons", and gave Cartman AIDS during the latter's tonsillectomy in "Tonsil Trouble".
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "Something Borrowed, Something Green" Mariner casually yanks out the knives that are thrown into her right shoulder with only a complaint about being hit there all the time.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Jedi Crash"/"Defenders of Peace", Anakin and Rex are both injured, and get bandaged over their clothes.
  • Parodied on The Venture Bros.. When Dr. Venture gets stung in the neck by a scorpion, Hank puts a tourniquet on his neck to keep the venom from reaching his brain. Dr. Venture wakes up in the middle of the procedure and chastises his son for nearly strangling him to death.

    Real Life 
  • This is sadly Truth in Television, and happens many times, from negligent medical personnel to well-meaning but ultimately clueless Samaritans.
  • Some British tropers who were in secondary school in the second half of the 1990s might recall an "instructional" First Aid video about putting someone in the Recovery Position when unconscious. The example used? A cyclist involved in a hit-and-run, a scenario with a very high probability of spinal injury. This might be a result of Science Marches On, as recovery prospects for spinal injuries are a lot better than they were twenty years ago, but it's still cringe-worthy in hindsight.
    • Oh, and this same first-aid course apparently consisted of CPR, the Heimlich Manoeuvre and the Recovery Position and that was it. Nothing on recognising the symptoms of a stroke or heart attack — the subjects of major public-awareness campaigns so that people seek medical assistance before their condition becomes life-threatening — or dealing with burns, bleeding or a broken bone.
  • In one famous case, lifeguards were resuscitating a victim, but instead of breathing, they were saying, "breath, breath" as they did in practice.
  • Lot of people give CPR the same way many actors do — with their arms bent and using almost no pressure and breathing in mouth without covering the nose. Others start right, but stop when ribs break, thinking they did it wrong, even though a few broken ribs are the least of the patient's concerns right now - those can heal, but the patient won't be coming back unless you revive them. One of first things said in first-aid courses is "If you hear loud cracks, don't stop. Those were ribs. They won't need them if they die." The 2010 standards revision suggests that compressions are more valuable than ventilations and move some air on their own through the pressure on the chest, so anyone without training is requested to do compression only CPR.
  • In Italian driving schools the teachers explain how to rescue victims of car crashes by keeping away anyone who isn't trained in first aid, specifically to prevent well-meaning but ignorant helpers from accidentally killing the patient.
  • United States President James Garfield was shot In the Back by a crazed office seeker in 1881. If the doctors had confined themselves to sewing him up and giving him chicken soup, Garfield probably would have lived. But since it was 1881 and the work of Louis Pasteur (the germ theory of disease) and Joseph Lister (antiseptic surgery) was not universally accepted, especially in America, the doctors spent much of the summer sticking unsterilized instruments and their bare unwashed fingers into Garfield's back as they tried to find the bullet. Because We Have to Get the Bullet Out!. Garfield fell victim to out-of-control infection and died eleven weeks after he was shot. In fact, Garfield's assassin defended himself at his trial with the argument "The doctors killed Garfield, I merely shot him" (which is technically true if you ignore the fact that the doctors wouldn't have been giving Garfield the treatment that led to the infection had he not been shot in the first place). The jury still found him guilty.
  • The practice of bloodletting (removing significant quantities of blood) was a common practice in the 18th century that may have (if not directly caused) hastened the death of George Washington following the first President becoming ill suddenly in December 1799. The rationale behind the practice was to remove the "bad blood" in the hopes that the disease would go with it. There is actually a use for bloodletting, and it is still used today, but only for a VERY VERY specific condition, called hemochromatosis, an excess of iron in the blood. The condition can result from a genetic defect (which makes it chronic), or an excess of iron introduced from blood transfusions. In these cases, carefully controlled amounts of bloodletting are used to relieve the iron overload. In this case, it's not called bloodletting, but therapeutic phlebotomy. This condition was not something that was known before the modern day.
    • Bloodletting was an ancient procedure, invented by the ancient Greeks. The original idea was that there were four "humors" of the body (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile) that needed to be kept in balance; this is also the origin of the terms "good humor" and "bad humor". It was thought that most diseases and even mental disorders were caused by excess of one or more of these humors. How the practice lasted so long when it at best did nothing and at worst killed the patient is anyone's guess.
  • As mentioned on the Over-the-Shoulder Carry Real Life section, this as a result of the poor medical training most band crews/roadies tend to have probably exacerbated Yoshiki Hayashi's neck and back injuries. Crew and roadies carried him off the stage in ways that, if you have any knowledge of spinal cord injury, are absolutely cringeworthy. After he actually broke his neck onstage in 1995, he was carried offstage by untrained roadies rather than left in place to be properly removed from the stage by paramedics with proper stabilizing equipment, and his crew did the same thing after he collapsed from exhaustion in 2008 despite having existing spinal cord injury and no neck brace at the time.
  • If someone cannot walk under their own power and/or has had previous neck or back injuries (especially if they both can't walk/are unconscious AND have previous neck/back injuries), the proper way of handling the emergency is having someone call Emergency Services (911, 119, whatever your local number is) and mentioning the nature of the emergency, removing anything around them that could endanger them from being sharp or falling on them or being otherwise hazardous, and not moving them. Let the professionals do it.
  • The aforementioned "treatment" for frostbite, rubbing snow on the affected area, was used until the 1950s which resulted in gangrene.
  • In the days before anesthesia, British surgeon Robert Liston was famed not only for his skill in amputations, but his speed as well. Anecdotes from the era describe him as a doctor who took such great pride in the speed of his operations that he would declare "Time me, gentlemen!" before performing an amputation. One apocryphal anecdote, in particular, speaks of one surgery with a 300% mortality rate, killing not only the patient and a nurse holding down the (fully conscious) patient with gangrene when he cut off the patient's leg and the nurse's fingers, but a spectator who thought he got cut when Liston's bloody saw cut his coat, causing him to have a panic-induced heart attack. That said, there was a legitimate reason for his speed, being that the faster he finished the operation the less pain the patient suffered and the less risk they had of dying of infection or blood loss, plus he was a big believer in things that other surgeons of his time saw as unnecessary, like washing his hands or changing out his bloody apron before each operation, which further increased the survival rates of his patientsnote . He was also the one to perform the first public operation to use modern anesthesia.
  • Telephone directories may include a brief First Aid and Survival section. One notorious passage from a few decades ago advised shaking an unconscious person by the shoulder while shouting “Are you all right?” Critics pointed out that this is especially useful if the person turns out to have a spinal injury.
  • During his last wrestling match in March 2015, Mexican wrestler Perro Aguayo Jr. or Hijo del Perro Aguayo received a dropkick that propelled him against the ropes, with his head violently whiplashing against them. He remained limp, and throughout the rest of the match, both his fellow wrestlers and his ringside helpers carelessly tried to revive him by shaking him several times. Ultimately their blatant disregard for medical procedure mattered little, Perro had tragically died almost instantly. Still, it remains a glaring and very modern example of this trope in real life, one that was witnessed in real time by thousands both in the audience and those who were watching the event from their homes.
  • In a particularly horrifying case that took place in the United Kingdom in 2014, a doctor decapitated a newborn infant after yanking on its body even though the mother's cervical muscles had spasmed and clamped around the child's neck; inexplicably, the nurse never even considered administering muscle relaxants and had simply opted to pull as hard as they could.
  • In late 2017, a video began circulating from a wellness/alternative-medicine Facebook page, detailing a way (allegedly from a Chinese medical professor) that a layperson could save a stroke victim. It involved pricking their ears and fingers, which was supposed to somehow stabilize them and get the stroke to pass (or at least get their face to stop drooping) and then taking them to the hospital. Anyone with even a minimal amount of knowledge about strokes should know that you immediately call 911 (or 999, or whatever the number for emergency services is in your country) and get them to a hospital as quickly as you can, and let trained ER and stroke-unit staff take care of it. note  Pricking their ears and fingers won't help, and delaying treatment leads to brain damage, which could lead to the patient either dying or becoming severely and permanently disabled. The viral video is deconstructed here by an actual doctor.
  • Smacking someone on the back to get them to stop choking can work -but it has to be done with the victim leaning far forward, at least at a forty-five to ninety degree angle relative to the floor (if standing or sitting). It also has to be done in the middle of the back just under the shoulder blades. The idea is to get the air still in the lungs to suddenly push the object out, in a less crushing manner than the Heimlich; the angle is so the object falls out of the mouth, not right back into the throat. But thanks to Hollywood, not many people do it that way, either through ignorance or thinking they know better. If you don't know how to do it and do it right, you shouldn't be doing it.
  • Done deliberately by German university students trying to gain a Dueling Scar. Some are known to deliberately sew up their injuries incorrectly in order to aggravate the wound and make the scar more noticeable.


Video Example(s):


Vento Aureo - Mista's injury

Fugo and Narancia seal up Mista's stomach wound with...a desk stapler and duct tape. Ouch...

How well does it match the trope?

4.62 (21 votes)

Example of:

Main / WorstAid

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