Drug Management and Disposal in PrisonsManaging medications in jails and correctional facilities is a challenging task for nurses and medical staff.  Add to that the many prescriptions that are given to inmates to self-administer as Keep-on-Person (KOP) medications and correctional nurses face many additional challenges.

KOP Medications and Tips for Correctional Facility Nurses

Administering medications to Keep on Person, KOP, is a common practice in many prisons and jails. This allows for inmates to hold and self-administer a certain quantity of medications including over-the-counter and prescriptions.  Many people in the general population self-administer a quantity of medications as regular practice, although this poses unique risks in a jail setting.

Risks with KOP Medications in Jails

Medications can be a hot commodity on the prison black market. In a community where basic necessities are a scarcity, inmates often get creative to use whatever means possible to gain status in a group or have materials available to barter. Correctional facilities determine which medications should be safe for inmates to keep on their person, based on past experiences and the characteristics of the medication and the population.

Inadequate Medicinal Effect

Risks of jail inmates keeping medications to self-administer include incorrect dosing where the patient may not experience maximum intended medicinal effect, such as medications needed to treat tuberculosis which requires consistent dosing to be effective.

Abuse of Medications 

Some classes of medications such as psychotropic prescriptions can be abused, either by the patient or by other inmates.

Safety of the Patient 

If other inmates become aware that one person has medications on their person, the patient could be in jeopardy of violence or being attacked in an attempt to obtain their medication.

Tips for Correctional Facility Nurses Managing Medications 

Correctional facility nurses must keep close tabs on all medication in their possession and those medications that are in possession of inmates. Here are some important tips to help provide an effective and safe KOP medication program:

  • Maintain a system for ordering and distributing KOP medications. Inmates may be required to reorder their medicine when they are down to a 7 to 10 day supply to allow time to fill the next order. Make sure all inmates receiving prescriptions understand their responsibilities.
  • Maintain a Medication Administration Record (MAR) to document all prescriptions and over-the-counter medications given to patients in regular doses and with KOP instructions. This allows for an accurate treatment plan so care providers can see all administered medications in one place.
  • All medications should be distributed with proper identification including the patient’s name and ID number and specific prescription information. This makes it easier to identify inmates in possession of drugs that do not belong to them.
  • Medication cards with identification information should also be provided for over-the-counter drugs given for routine sick call visits.
  • Jail security should be able to quickly identify any medication found in the general population and easily verify the identity of the rightful owner.
  • Routinely spot-check patients with KOP medications to ensure they are in compliance with prescribed dosing mid cycle. Patients can be requested to report to a nursing station with their ID card and prescription for verification. This gives nurses a chance to validate proper usage and provide additional recommendations.
  • Utilize a safe and efficient drug disposal system. If medications are stopped or prescriptions are changed before a supply is depleted, nursing staff must have a safe and efficient method of disposing of unused or expired medications. Rx Destroyer™ is a convenient drug disposal product utilized in many settings including correctional facilities that allows nursing staff to simply drop unused medication into the container where chemical digestion begins to quickly neutralize medications.

Maintain Efficient Drug Disposal Practices 

Correctional facilities should practice safe and efficient drug disposal practices to avoid stockpiling unused or expired medications.  Rx Destroyer™ provides safe and efficient drug disposal with a patented* formula of activated carbon that neutralizes medications for safe disposal. Quickly destroying unused and expired medications as part of a drug disposal program helps to prevent drug diversion and environmental contamination.

C2R Global Manufacturing is a leader in the drug disposal industry, offering a wide selection of easy to use drug disposal products. Rx Destroyer™ safely and quickly begins neutralizing medications with chemical digestion, a DEA compliant method of drug destruction. Contact us to learn more about maintaining a safe and compliant drug disposal system in correctional facilities.