Properly disposing of expired medications is the main focus of any controlled substance (CS) waste program. Hospitals must have policies and procedures in place for the safe management and disposal of pharmaceutical waste for expired, discontinued or leftover medications. It is estimated that hospitals in the U.S. produce nearly 5.9 billion tons of medical waste each year.
There are many financial considerations to maintaining a proper pharmaceutical and CS waste program, although the fines for non-compliance far outweigh any costs associated with compliance. Non-compliance puts hospitals at risk for significant fines from many governmental agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA-RCRA & CWA), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Occupational Safety & Health (OSHA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT).
For example, in 2018 a teaching hospital in Wisconsin was fined over $360,000 for the improper disposal of pharmaceutical waste occurring over a three-year period. An anonymous tip to the EPA regarding the hospital’s drug disposal practices was forwarded to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), where several violations were found resulting in significant enforcement action.
Hospitals Must Meet all Pharmaceutical and CS Waste Disposal Regulations
Part of a compliant drug disposal system includes training staff on hazardous waste and controlled substance disposal requirements, accurate record keeping and screening employees dealing with CS waste. Hospital staff receiving proper instructions and training on CS waste disposal is a key factor in meeting drug disposal compliance regulations.
The Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 was expanded upon with the DEA rulings in 21CFR parts 1300, 1301, 1304, 1305,1307, and 1317, effective September 9, 2014. In the past, many healthcare facilities simply flushed medication waste down the drain, leading to environmental pollution and contributing to drug diversion. Each facility must adhere to all federal regulations as well as all state, local or tribal regulations and specific facility medical waste programs.
Solutions for Hospital Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal
There are many things that hospitals can do to lessen the financial impact of pharmaceutical waste. Implementing the following recommendations has a direct, positive impact on the bottom line of any healthcare facility:
- Be sure to follow a “first-in, first-out” inventory model to avoid accumulating expired medications unnecessarily
- Utilize automated inventory management systems and adjust for seasonal medications such as Tamiflu which is in higher demand during flu season
- Use inventory management system features such as setting up expiration dates of medications and following a system to properly dispose of expired medications promptly
- Monitor and adjust dosages and formularies of controlled substances and toxic pharmaceuticals to reduce the amount of CS waste disposal
- Maintain separate purchasing accounts for distributors and manufacturers to easily obtain credit from those that give refunds on expired medications
- Implement a safe and convenient pharmaceutical waste program that is easy to follow and train all staff on proper disposal methods
Safe, Easy and Affordable CS Waste Disposal Program
Rx Destroyer™ is a leader in the pharmaceutical waste industry, offering simple solutions to healthcare facilities and hospitals for compliant drug disposal. Rx Destroyer™ offers a wide selection of disposal containers to meet the needs of any size of facility. We provide safe and easy to use containers along with training and seamless implementation.
With our easy to use containers, nurses, doctors and staff can simply drop the medication into our container with a patented formula that instantly renders them non-retrievable. This reduces environmental contamination and drug diversion for the safety of all patients and staff as well as protecting hospitals from liability.
Rx Destroyer™ is dedicated to helping organizations meet all drug disposal requirements as part of our commitment to saving water and saving lives, one prescription at a time. Our drug disposal containers come in many product sizes to meet the needs of any healthcare environment. Contact us to reduce your risk of liability and as part of an easy and affordable CS waste and medication disposal program.