Horse, fire-eating and false nails falling off: 7 weirdest things seen in A&E by Darent Valley nurse

Sam Elden-Lee in her role as A&E consultant nurse at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford.

The busy mother-of-one has not only worked in hospitals across Essex but also training soldiers in the Army in first aid.

Sam taking part in a mission with the air ambulance.

First published in News
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News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , deputy news editor

A leading nurse at Darent Valley Hospital has shared a list of some of the most unusual things she has seen in A&E over the last 15 years.

Sam Elden-Lee, 47, joined the Dartford hospital in September as an A&E consultant nurse and is now putting her experience to great use in the busy department.

The busy mother-of-one has not only worked in hospitals across Essex but also training soldiers in the Army in first aid and worked with the Essex and London Air Ambulance over the years. 

News Shopper:

She said: "I have seen some comic things in my time working in A&E departments but also very tragic.

"I am sure people watch 24 Hours in A&E as well as Casualty and Holby City but these programmes don’t always show you the everyday tale of an emergency department."

 Here are a few of the lighter things Sam has seen in her time-

1. When a patient is booked in with difficulty in breathing, as you can imagine we treat this as life-threatening until proven otherwise.

When the man was assessed he was very distressed and said he had difficulty in breathing because he had a blocked nose and a cold.

2. Patients coming into hospital with infected piercings is a common occurance. A&E staff are never surprised by the array of piercings that are presented to us.

3. Cotton buds in ears. Do not use these to remove ear wax, the ends come off, wedge in the ear canal and become infected.

News Shopper:

GP practice nurses are very good at fishingaround in ears. Remember you should never put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear!

4. Alcohol is a strong drug. Too much will make you sick and make you do strange things.

Many people think they have super powers after drinking too much ie flying, invisiblity, stand up comedy etc.

It sometimes seems to empower the consumer with an unrealistic air of bravery and immortality.

In the worse case scenario people can die from intoxication or injuries sustained, however the majority only feel as if they are going to and are discharged the next morning looking slightly embarrassed and having to apologise to the nurses for numerous unmentionable acts. Use with care.

5. Forgetting your keys/phone/wallet - we are always happy to help however this does not guarantee you a bed for the night unless you are sick.

On this note climbing through your window to retrieve keys/phone/wallet can result in injury and humiliation when the fire brigade have to come and cut you out and bring you to the emergency department.

6. Burns - these come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most notable are those sustained by members of the community who aspire to the role of fire eaters.

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A number of young men have been transferred to regional burns centres following the practice of drinking lighter fuel and lighting it. Not big. Or clever. And no-one was laughing.

7. People have also been known to head into the A&E with false nails falling off and someone even once took a horse into the hospital to be treated!

News Shopper:

Ms Elden-Lee added: "On a final note, the staff in the Emergency Department at Darent Valley are always happy to help, never be afraid to seek advice and it may be that if we can point you towards another primary care service, such as your GP or pharmacist, this may be the best course for you.

"You can call 111 for advice and out of hours appointments and there are on line services such as and which will help to point you in the right direction."


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