The Biohazards Of Anal-ysis

| Portland, OR, USA | Working | December 31, 2012

(I am the hospital’s pharmacist. Occasionally, a patient is admitted to the hospital who brings in medications from home, often in a plastic baggie or other unlabeled container. One day, a nurse calls me ahead of sending down the pills.)

Nurse: “I’m sending down some pills to be identified, but they smell funny… like bad breath or poop or something.”

Me: “Uh, okay.”

(About 10 pills arrive in the pneumatic tube system. They look funny, are irregularly shaped and have no imprint codes stamped on them. The brown outer coating is sloughing off. I think they are perhaps an herbal product. When I open the baggie, the stench nearly knocks me off my feet. I put on a pair of gloves and spend a few minutes gagging, but nonetheless trying to figure out what they are. Defeated, I call the nurse back.)

Me: “Where did you say they patient got these pills from?”

Nurse: “Oh, the gastroenterologist is here, and he dug 40 of them out of the patient’s rectum.”

Me: “…Say WHAT?! Listen, for future reference, that would have been nice to know before I opened the package and nearly threw up!”

Nurse: “Consider yourself lucky: the unit secretary touched them with her bare hands!”

(The “pills” were indeed several weeks’ worth of tablets that had been the cause of the patient’s severe constipation!)

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