It’s October, which means colder weather, pumpkin-spiced everything (which OTC med will feature it first?), and a certain scary holiday. Happy Halloween!
Ghosts and goblins might be fine for the average person, but you’re a pharmacist. You’ve seen the worst of humanity and lived to tell the tale. But even so, no matter how hard your stomach is, or how many Tums you steal from your front counter, some things in pharmacy are terrifying.
Here, in an undisputable, definitive order, are the creepiest things any pharmacist or pharmacy will have to deal with. From medication errors to deadly robots, spooky forces are at work in the pharmacies.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy! If you need to read with the lights on, we understand.
5. Clowns everywhere
Maybe it’s the reboot of Stephen King’s IT (which itself features a terrifying pharmacist character) or the rash of clown sightings across the country last year, but clowns are more in the public consciousness than ever.
Which makes it all the more terrifying that someone found this at a CVS:
We can’t confirm it, but we’re 80% sure CVS wasn’t actually selling that model and that it just appeared in their pharmacy one day.
The word you’re looking for, by the way, is coulrophobia.
4. Robots taking your job
A common question among pharmacy is, how much will be automated? What is the role of the pharmacist in 2017 and beyond?
Pharmacists are constantly broadening their scope of services, providing better care and more of it than ever before. But at their core, pharmacists are about providing medication, keeping patients safe and informed.
But at least company is trying to put the kibosh on that. Behold, the face of death:
If this is the future, it is dark indeed. A small robot dispensing meds and giving health advice? What could go wrong? It raises more questions than it answers: Are we prepared to rely that heavily on a computer for health advice? Will people start ignoring health-care professionals in favor of robots? Why is its face so creepy?
Only time can answer these questions, but you have been warned. Beware.
3. A pharmacy haunting
What’s scarier: A ghost sighting at a pharmacy, or the thought of never being able to leave your pharmacy again?
W.L. Bair—better known as Cub to his friends—opened up his pharmacy 1895 in the small coastal town of Steilacoom, WA. Cub was supposedly somewhat of a perfectionist, and his lovingly-maintained pharmacy complete with a continually burning pot-belly stove and soda fountain proved it. Some say that when he died, he had trouble leaving his store behind—and that he still puts in a full day’s work.
But the relentless march of change was tough on poor old Cub. When the pharmacy was converted into a café, Cub couldn’t keep up. Employees would find burned bagels and broken electrical equipment in the new soda machine. Other people saw sauce bottles fly off shelves or spinning coffee pots. Poor Cub just wasn’t cut out for that afterlife
Cub only settled down when the café was converted into a museum, where he could at long last be among his old medicines and bottles again.
But that’s not the only haunted pharmacy in America. A pharmacy in New Orleans, owned by America’s first licensed pharmacist, Louis Dufilho Jr., is also said to have a pharmacist who just won’t leave. Dufilho started his pharmacy in 1823, but sold it in 1855 to Dr. Joseph Dupas. The creepy part? Dupas is said to still inhabit his old pharmacy (Maybe he at least gets paid overtime?).
Apparently, Dupas is said to have performed terrible experiments on pregnant slaves, while others claim that he performed voodoo rites within in the pharmacy.
He is said to appear as a short, stocky, mustachioed man in his mid-sixties, and wears a brown suit with a brown top hat. The long-deceased Dupas is said to be responsible for throwing books, moving displays at the Pharmacy Museum located at the site of his old pharmacy, and even triggering the alarm system.
2. Medication errors
Sure, you’ve got the part down where you double- and triple-check the medications you’re dispensing. But that, dear pharmacist, is not the only thing to afraid of this Halloween season.
One Halloween, a Canadian pharmacy was handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. What could go wrong with this innocent community-building operation, you ask?
A few kids got more than the usual fun-size Snickers or Skittles in their pumpkin-shaped pails that year. Instead of a treat, they were tricked with bipolar medication.
It all began with a horrible series of accidents. When a customer came in to pick up her son’s medication— Quetiapine and Divalproex sodium—she mistakenly dropped the drugs on her way out. Another customer picked up the medication and put it on the counter—close to the candy basket. Then, an employee at the pharmacy accidentally mixed the medication in with the candy. That candy-pill mixture was then distributed to kids.
All told, seven individually wrapped pills were dropped into baskets.
So this Halloween, make sure any candy you give out is just candy. For all the other medication errors, we’ve got your back.
1. Customers and Bosses
Let’s face it, for all the terror that clowns and pill dispensing robots bring, nothing can compare to having to tell a patient yelling some variant of “I was at my doctor 10 minutes ago and she promised me that my meds would be ready now” that sometimes it takes a while to get their medication ready.
Nothing can compare to that terror, except maybe the terror of a terrible boss. Take this example from a reader:
“I had a boss who could not describe what he wanted or give you any example to go by. He wanted you to create something and would only give very vague instructions. He did not know what he wanted until he saw what you prepared and then would know immediately that was not at all what he was looking for or even close. With only a few more vague instructions, he would have you re-do your work. Usually after about 5 times, he would sigh and say, ‘Okay, well I guess this is as good as you can do.’
During all of this my father was dying and I was his sole care giver. My boss talked me into not taking a family medical leave because of the projects we had due. We agreed I could work from home. That year during my annual performance review, after no comments from my boss previously, my boss gave me a bad evaluation—saying that I was not performing to expectations and cut deadlines too close. He also said that he had to push me to submit acceptable work. At the time, I was so involved with my father's care that I did not complain to human resources and I still regret it to this day. I should have protested the review and told my side of the story.”
This Halloween, take caution. Stay away from clowns, smash robots, keep your candy bowls in safe places, and stand up for yourself. All of these things might seem scary, but hopefully, like Halloween itself, they only last for a night.