Pharmacy Spills


What have you spilled in the pharmacy?



@frandavi99: I discovered Methadone original makes your shirt go stiff as cardboard when it dries! I spent the day being described as a drug addicts lollipop

@MrDispenser: I had a 500g tub of Diprobase cream fall from a shelf, miss my head and smash a conical with 100ml methadone

@frandavi99: Smashing the conical is the biggest sin there!

@catrionabrodie: I watched an AAH driver break some methadone once and the staff made HIM clear it up

@Allucha: methadone spills are horrid, though. Had 60ml spill all over myself one morning due to an poorly closed bottle. Stunk all day.

@Saij_J: staff member spilled methadone all over counter. Locum spent whole morning trying to figure out how much was lost

@Andychristo: Don’t forget the delivery driver who dropped and smashed 12 methadone bottles.



@catrionabrodie: I think the worst thing to spill is Lactulose, absolute nightmare to clean…

@impure3: A full 500ml of methadone on a tiled floor and a glass bottle of lactulose on a carpeted floor. Guess which one was easier to clean? Yep! We had to have someone replace the carpet tiles for the other mess! I had been employed about a week. Oops!

@StandByPharmacy: Lactulose – a tiled floor remains sticky for months, no matter how well it is cleaned

@The_Buffy_Bot: Lactulose. Bloody awful stuff!


Five second rule

@MrDispenser: I have spilled a bottle of tablets as I tried to put the lid on in view of the patient which was awkward. She did not believe in the five second rule

@frandavi99: 2 second rule can’t be applied there sadly 😦

@Clareylang: We have the 3 second rule haha!!! I bet she didn’t! Iol!!!

@impure3: We say three 😉

@MrDispenser: Is it the two, three or five second rule?

@clareylang: Well we have 3 but guess it depends how strongly you feel about spills of pills lol!!! but really it’s the 0 second rule lol!!

@frandavi99: Depends how long it takes you to rescue it!

@Pillmanuk: Depends on the value of the spilt tablets. Some can have a five minute rule when they are over £100. Of course not. I was being silly. Everyone knows that the rules doesn’t apply to them 🙂



@Lauraberrycakes: Spilt Gaviscon isn’t fun!

@gemcymru: Aniseed Gaviscon …gloopy!

@Gemmieangel: 500ml bottle of gaviscon as my area manager walked in and the pharmacy had a carpet #aniseedhorror



@Sairah_Banu: Cup of tea

@MilnerMichael: A soft drink over the key board,#stickykeys

@pill_saurus: Once I spilled a whole cup of hot coffee and almost 3-4 shelves of medicines were colourfully decorated!!

@frandavi99: You wasted coffee!?

@pill_saurus: Hahaha, yes, sacrilege and was so embarrassed as it was just my first week in the Pharmacy

@frandavi99: Was it just a very badly made coffee?

@pill_saurus: Didn’t even get to the point of tasting it. Just picked the cup and was trying to grab a corner and spilled


Cod Liver Oil

@frandavi99: I had a dispenser that knocked a bottle of cod liver oil over, smelt so bad we sent her home!

@Sianibarny: 500ml bottle of cod liver oil! On a very hot day. No air con! I imagine the pharmacy still smells fishy 10 years on!!


Antibiotic Suspension

@Lauraberrycakes: We had a locum shake a bottle of reconstituted amoxicillin all over a computer keyboard and herself. It was at start of the day, she had a cream top on so had bright yellow marks all day 😦 & new keyboard was needed! #fail

@HelenRoot: Don’t you hate that? Usually under the keyboard and amongst your Rx

@alkemist1912: A pre-reg once started shaking erythromycin syrup with the lid not fully on!!!!!!!!! What a mess!!

@JV_Roberts: Cefalexin, made it up (just add water) changed lid for a Click Lock then shook=pink spots all over my white shirt!



@Wojciethromycin: I tend to always spill furosemide 20’s…the smallest tablets we have in our pharmacy of course.

@HelenRoot: 1000 pot of ferrous gluconate on the floor! Like an episode of Total wipeout

@Fatema17: A yet-to-be-sealed blister pack filled with various drugs


Non pharmacy

@weslangley: The beans!

@Kevfrost: Blood.

@alkemist1912: Various people over the years spilled their guts in the pharmacy sink!!!!!!!! YUK

@MilnerMichael: Blood when opening amps for destruction!!

@Sybil_Ramkin: Blood, sweat and tears!



@frandavi99: Not me but a locum dropped some amlodipine suspension (special) worth £300

@allucha: Water from a (thoroughly rinsed) methadone bottle that was being used as a vase for flowers from one of our temperamental pts. The funny thing is that the flowers lasted well over three weeks! Two bunches; we put one in a normal bottle, and one in sugar free

@impure3: Oh, a big tub of aqueous cream on a blue carpet. Messy!

@Cocksparra: A well packed bag. smashed a bottle of medinol, in slow motion for some reason and sounded like someone got shot.

@07sat: Lactulose, paracetamol suspension, bisacodyl tabs and pesky vitamin caps – thankfully not all in the same day!

@Darkvignette: Remember seeing a fellow student at uni shake a 2L Winchester of Calpol with no lid. Very messy and quite pink!

@Miss___DJ: Colpermin capsules, then stood on a few, whole place smelt of peppermint!

@Pillpusheruk: Methadone gaviscon lactulose

@JV_Roberts: Just spilled Mag Hydrox today, horrible stuff instantly clumps in measuring vessel, then plop! All over the counter!

@ShabnamMirza: One thing is for sure, Night Nurse liquid is still bright green when it hits the floor lol ..

@HelenRoot: TCP on a carpeted shop floor. I once dropped three kids’ bubble baths on a floor. Was foam everywhere as tried to clean

@catrionabrodie: One Saturday, my Counter Assistant spilt a shower gel and shampoo all over the floor and proceeded to mop




11 thoughts on “Pharmacy Spills

  1. I once had a driver smash the entire contents of a tote + box on top by them ‘falling’ when he loaded them on outside. he then walked his wheely rolley up the shop with green streaks. 6 litres of methadone oozing out across the dispensary floor- under all the draws on the floor….

    Left it oozing while he went back to the van to find a plastic tote to bung the 2 boxes on so it ooozed into that..

    why the hell did he not do that before he wheeled it all across my shop, at the van, where he broke them in the first place! doooh!

    For weeks the floor was hideously sticky!!!

  2. So here’s a handy hint. If making up methadone with powder + syrup, make sure the lid is on properly before you shake the bottle to mix it. Otherwise you need to get stepladders and a whole roll of paper towel and hope the methadone in your eyes doesnt kill you.

  3. And another handy hint. If you’re having a really busy day and are really glad when the shop shuts for an hour for lunch, don’t then tip a shelf of glycerin, lemon and honey onto the floor 2 minutes into the break as you’ll have to get the health centre receptionist to find the keys to the cleaning cupboard so you can get a mop and bucket before then spending your lunch hour picking broken glass out the sticky mess and trying to clean up the resulting lake of goo. For the rest of the day it sounded like I was tearing a sheet of paper every time I took a step.

  4. Working in the clean room once, a technician dropped a bottle of 25% dextrose 500 mL, and the stuff ran all over a crowded floor filled with carts, boxes of clean supplies, under the hoods, and there was a mess still to clear up to after the housekeepers attacked it with their not-so-clean mops.

    I am curious as to why there is so much liquid methadone in the UK. Here in the US, it’s primary use at one time for patients in methadone addiction treatment programs, though I’ve seen tablets ordered in the hospital for patients that are already on in.

    One of the freakiest spilsl I encountered was a brown pint glass bottle of promethazine with codeine cough syrup that was just sold to a physician who promptly dropped it on carpeted floor at the front window. I was so glad that I spend the extra second to ensure zip-locked plastic bags are fully zipped shut, as I heard the glass hit the floor and shatter.

    When I worked at a Veterans Administration clinic, we used a dispensing machine to count out meds to fill prescription bottles. It was based on an opaque detection system, so we couldn’t use it for transparent docusate sodium and other clear gelatin capsules. Those clear little round yellow benzonatate capsules were the very devil to pick up once they’d spilled anywhere, especially after counting out 150 to fill a prescription.

    In the hospital pharmacy we kept drugs used for the same purpose in the same area, e.g. the topicals all together, eye meds, HIV drugs, and anesthetic gases. As a shortie, I protested that anesthetic gas glass bottles were kept on a shelf just where I could reach them, imagining that if one fell off while I was trying to obtain if, I would be gassed for the entire length of time it took to dissipate.

    And the thick generic pediatric sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim suspension is so nasty and thick, that it is well-nigh impossible to have it pour out of the stock bottle into a narrow-neck prescription without getting the slimy pink stuff all over. I’m allergic to sulfa, so have to wear gloves, but it really doesn’t help the length of time to prepare the script.

    1. We use lots of methadone because pretty much every pharmacy does supervised consumption for patients with substance misuse problems. Becuase we have the NHS here it means that treatment is free and therefore these patients can easily access treatment. It may be controversial, but maintenance therapy like this does demonstrate improved outcomes for patients and society when compared to abstinence only treatment and certainly when compared to no treatment.

  5. Thanks for the reply. I agree about the rationale.

    Why liquid dosage form? So that it isn’t ‘cheeked’?

    And, what about Suboxone treatment, a combination of the narcotic buprenorphine (with a celling effect) and naloxone? I work in the mideasten cornfields (Indiana) and we don’t see methadone clinics, but I have noticed that Medicaid (partially Federally funded State administered programs for those in poverty) will pay for Suboxone. I don’t think that I’ve every seen methadone prescribed for ‘maintenance’.

    1. I’m pretty sure that is the rationale for liquid, plus its a lot easier to conceal a large number of tablets to sell and a lot easier for kids to take a whole load of by accident (although all of things things do happen).

      We also have suboxone but it tends to be used for people who are either very stable or who are making the final steps towards abstinence. I once had a methadone patient who had taken an illegal suboxone she’d bought. Because of its partial agonist activity, it just put her straight into withdrawal. Because of this, buprenorphine would likely be pointless for anyone potentially using illicit opiates.

      That said, I have seen a couple of people getting methadone tablets, but I’m not sure why. Possibly something to do with problems with the green dye, or GI problems or just not having a strong enough stomach to keep down all that liquid.

      Methadone works well for maintenance thanks to its long half life meaning it only needs daily dosing. The problem with addiction is that nothing will make someone want to use drugs more than forced abstinence. With this in mind, maintenance methadone at least attempts to allow people to shift their focus of their lives from drugs to focusing on getting back on track. And even if they spend the rest of their days coming in for their daily methadone, it at least means a lot less stealng/prostitution/scamming etc to buy illicit drugs.

  6. One of the most annoying spills we had was a 300ml bottle of Calcium liquid – the one bottle we had in stock that came shooting out of the robot and didn’t stop when it came to the end of the spiral and continued to roll onto the floor, smash into little pieces and all over the dispensary manger who was helping on outpatients.
    I did chuckle a little bit but how do you explain to the patient that the one bottle we had now is broke and she had waited for thirty minutes as the outpatient area was really busy……..

  7. Many, many years ago when all liquids came in 2L winchesters (look it up, you youngsters) the bottom actually fell off a nearly full winchester of Actifed just as the dispenser managed to drop a nearly full tub of 1000 thyroxine tabs. Lovely: sticky Actifed, crunchy tabs all mixed in with broken glass all over dispensary floor just as evening surgery kicked off. (Oh, and we wrote all the dispensing labels by hand so no time-saving devices). We sort of worked round it.

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