The “science has forced me to seek medical attention” badge


In which the recipient has had to pay a visit to the hospital as a result of scientific work. (MF)



  1. We have a field station in Costa Rica in the mountains. A visiting researcher and his grad student came down to see some of the orchids. On the third day of the trip, as they were looking in a tree from the ground, Scott, the grad student took a step back and fell down the embankment about 30ft towards the river. He stopped just a few feet from the river but couldn’t move. We had to put him on a back board and pull him out with the help of 8 young men from the area. An ambulance was called and he spent the next 5 days in the hospital in pain. I took him back to the states, he was on pain killers, a week early. An MRI showed that he had torn his Glutius Maximus. He is the only person I know that has broken his butt, literally, while doing science.
    Here’s the kicker, only the day before after a close call the researcher said they needed to be careful or one of them would end up earning the Science Scout badge for seeking medical attention (The Truth).

  2. Thought I would help the engineer trying to prepare all equipment for our research cruise by making the electrical connections for our winch cable termination. I carefully carved away the polyurethane outer jacket without breaking any tiny copper wires within, for an hour. Cut off the last piece with my big knife and went right through my middle finger. We had not yet left the pier so the 3rd mate drove me to the hospital for stitches. Spent the research cruise inadvertently giving everyone the finger, ’cause it was bandaged sticking out.

    Had my stitches removed by the medic while still at sea. He was thrilled. This was apparently, the most exciting medical incident he had ever seen.

    Also, once I was in the south Pacific and needed to take care of some electrodes on a towed EM geophysical imaging system. I stuck my hand inside (being the only scientist on our team with small enough hands) only to find some horrible, unidentified spiny creature had been dragged up from the seafloor and was hiding inside. The medical officer spent an hour pulling spines out of my hand and monitoring me, in case they were poisonous.

  3. I impaled my hand with glassware doing something stupid in the lab, and had to go to the ER, get anesthetized, and have my finger dissected to remove the glass shards. Ouch!

  4. Okay, so nothing as exciting as the previous submissions. But our local ‘doc in the box’ has a very interesting file on me: bat and snake bites, Lyme disease…
    Not to mention that 4 day hospital stay (but that Benadryl drip made seem like a day and a half…) for hives caused by exposure to some unknown agent on the job. We suspect the ladybugs…

  5. Well, I don’t know if rabies prophylactic vaccines count as “seeking medical attention,” because you get them BEFORE the research, but the vaccine is bright pink, and looks like something out of a comic book, so I think it counts.

  6. I recently stuck myself with a needle possibly infected with cholera. Took a trip to the ER, and was given the all-clear. Am now EXTRA careful about dirty needles.

  7. Does anyone who works in a lab more than 24 hours NOT get this? I think this is like the “cheerful” merit badge for those who survive boy scouts for only a week.

  8. In college, PETA broke into the behavioral psychology department’s animal labs and smashed the cages. While fixing the labs, the rats and pigeons were stored in the basement, where I had class. I was unaware of this AND the fact that I was allergic to rodents and feathers. 5 MONTHS of breaking out in hives, 7 ER visits and 2 bouts of anaphylaxis before we figured out what was causing it.

  9. HCl acid burn. Destroyed my jeans, and then started in on my leg before a coworker shoved me under the shower. Got to go to grad school interviews with big bandages wrapped around my leg underneath my dress pants. Have a scar.

  10. I had a horse fall on me when at the end of a 3 month forest ecology expedition in Russia (which also nets me inclement weather, bed deprivation (all levels), shower deprivation, emergency evacuation and, uh, working with faeces, amongst others).

    We had to set off an emergency beacon and wait for eight hours to get air lifted out of the middle of nowhere, and I had months of plaster casts, crutches and physio to look forwards to.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s