According to the FDA, one of the most dangerous things to do when it comes to medication disposal is to flush old or unused medicine down the toilet or sink. This isn’t just because the medicine can affect the water quality, though that’s certainly bad enough; it’s also because the medicine can pose serious health risks if it ends up in landfills when the waste treatment facility isn’t set up to handle it correctly.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services has been very clear that medications must be disposed of properly; they have done everything they can to make sure people know exactly how to dispose of medication properly. A couple of years ago, Medicare passed a law that required long-term care facilities like assisted living facilities and nursing homes, who accept Medicare and Medicaid, to implement a proper method for disposing of their residents’ unused medications. At first glance, it may seem a bit overwhelming: don’t throw out prescriptions with all your other garbage? Don’t flush them down your toilet? What exactly is proper medication disposal? Don’t worry! You’re not alone if you’re confused on how to properly get rid of all those unwanted pills or solutions. In this article, we will discuss how to properly dispose of unused medications.
Long-Term Care Facilities
Long-term care facilities are not just nursing homes, but also include assisted living facilities, convalescent hospitals, and residential treatment centers. If a facility offers medical care beyond wound and disease management, it should be able to receive its medications back through a medication return program. It’s not just pharmacies that can participate either; convenient drop boxes can be installed at long-term care and other facilities so that residents can safely dispose of expired or unused prescriptions. This is an important step towards minimizing access to improperly stored medications and improving safety for elderly individuals who may be more prone to drug-related mishaps.
How Should Unused Medication Be Disposed Of?
For years medications have been improperly disposed of by flushing the medications down the toilet. This flushing method is very hazardous to waterways and waste treatment facilities. The best way to dispose of medications is to drop them in to a medication disposal kiosk. Companies like American RX Group and American Security Cabinets offer secure medication drop boxes/kiosks, disposal products, and full-service take back solutions for proper medication disposal.
Why Shouldn't You Flush Medications?
Do you know where your medications end up when you flush them down the toilet? They don’t just disappear! In fact, their impact is much more far-reaching than you may think. Medicine flushed down drains and toilets can make its way into our bodies through recreational water activities (like swimming), or even re-enter our food chain if it’s consumed by animals that are then eaten by humans. And since one medication is often made up of several chemicals, we don’t always know what types of contaminants they can cause. We also don’t really understand how they all interact together within a contaminated water supply. Simply put: flushing medications isn’t a good idea if we want to maintain healthy ecosystems and protect human health in our cities and waters.
Proper Medication Disposal In LTC Facilities
The latest U.S. Pharmacist Licensure Survey results shows that many long-term care facilities still aren’t providing safe medication disposal methods for residents to return unused medication to their pharmacies. This is important because unused medications are a leading cause of poisoning, accidental death and injury among adults ages 65 years and older. To improve patient safety and reduce waste, pharmacists need to develop strategies that make returning medications more convenient for patients residing in long-term care facilities. That is where American Security Cabinets comes in. ASC offers a wide variety of disposal kiosks to suit the needs of any sized long-term care facility (LTCF).
One of the main reasons that LTCF’s say that they can’t run a medication disposal program is that it may cause more work for the staff or an administrative burden and they just don’t want to deal with that. With American Security Cabinets’ new Kiosk Management System (KMS), the burden of running a take back program is diminished. Instead of manually checking the kiosk to see how full the liner is or worrying about the package being overweight you can check the status of your kiosk online at any time. Not only can you view the fill level and current weight on the portal, you can also set up text and/or email notifications to warn when the liner is reaching its max capacity. Stay in touch with your take back program from any where at any time with the KMS Smart Kiosk.
What Are Medication Disposal Kiosks?
Medication disposal kiosks and kiosks/cabinets that allow for medication return, disposal and/or recycling. These disposal kiosks can most likely be found in police stations, pharmacies, and long-term care facilities. The medications inside of the kiosk will be properly recycled. American Security Cabinets offers a variety of sizes and styles of disposal kiosks, they can be viewed here.
How Do Medication Take Back Programs Work?
Medication disposal take back programs are much simpler than you may think. Medication is dropped into the secure cabinet which has a liner inside that catches the medications. Once the liner is full or has reached the maximum weight, it is sent off to a destruction facility. Once the contents are destroyed, a Certificate of Destruction will be created for that order. A new liner is inserted into the kiosk and the process begins again. The image below shows the process of medication disposal for an American RX Group Take Back Program.
Where Does The Discarded Medication Go After Collection?
After the ASC/ARXG liner is full and sealed, it will be transported via prepaid UPS shipping to one of the largest waste-to-energy facilities in the nation to minimize the impact of the waste. Once the liner contents are destroyed, a Certificate of Destruction (Form DEA-41) will be issued for full compliance with the DEA. If using ASC/ARXG, the certificate can be viewed at any time on the online tracking portal where you can also track your shipment from start to finish.