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An 18-year-old male is shot in the head during a drive-by shooting. He manages to walk in to an emergency room, where a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 15 suggests he is fully conscious.

As the physician assistant who shared the case noted:

Skull intact without fracture, bullet ricocheted and stuck in scalp. Transferred to trauma center for removal. Told him to go buy a lottery ticket.

This amazing case prompted many other healthcare professionals to share their own stories of patients who survived injuries that would ordinarily be fatal.

From an EMT:

Saw a somewhat similar case in the ER in the early ‘80s. Patient answered his door and was greeted with a gunshot wound to the chest. The bullet shell either misfired or had inadequate gun powder inside. The projectile penetrated the derma and stopped, about 1 cm R of the sternum. He got the Luckiest Guy in Town award that afternoon.

From an orthopedic surgeon:

Nail gun misfired and put a nail through the mid-line of the frontal portion of the skull, directly between the hemispheres… without damage to any structures at time of craniotomy for removal…..some people are excessively fortunate

And from a registered nurse:

Worked medical surgery in early ‘80s when they admitted a GSW [gunshot wound] to head. We all thought they called our floor by mistake but a 20ish girl had been shot through passenger-side open window by stray bullet from a hunter. She literally didn’t realize it until driver noticed blood running down her cheek. Bullet lodged somewhere near base of skull where it was determined best to just leave it be. Wow!


This case is featured in the most recent issue of The Differential, our regular email roundup of fascinating medical cases shared on the Figure 1 network. To get this newsletter and other specialty-specific editions, healthcare professionals can sign up for a free Figure 1 account here.