Nursing homes, long-term care facilities and hospitals are the largest generators of pharmaceutical waste in the United States, generating more than 84,000 tons of medication waste each year, according to an article in Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare. Disposing of pharmaceutical waste and nursing homes can be complex and confusing for nursing staff to understand the regulations to follow.
There are many reasons why long-term care facilities are such large generators of unused medications including controlled and noncontrolled substances. These included:
- A resident may be transferred to another facility or hospital
- Residents can pass away before the medication is gone
- Patients could have an allergic or adverse reaction and unable to finish a prescription
- The medication could expire before being fully consumed
- The prescription may not be effective and a new medication may be required
These are just some of the many reasons why so many pharmaceuticals go unused and discarded from long-term care facilities.
Regulations Regarding Drug Disposal in Nursing Homes
Various regulatory agencies have addressed pharmaceutical waste, with the most recent pharmaceutical waste disposal regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, with the Code of Federal Regulations 40 CFR. Additionally, the Drug Enforcement Administration enforces 21 CFR for compliance with pharmaceutical waste disposal. Long-term care facilities must follow strict policies and procedures regarding the storing, dispensing, and disposing of medications which are consistent with their facility policies, local, state and federal regulations.
Training staff for the proper management and disposal of medication waste in nursing homes is critical to protect facilities, staff, and patients. Policies should include the requirement of a witness to verify proper drug disposal with documentation such as DEA Form 41 which documents the destruction of controlled substances. By following proper drug disposal procedures in nursing homes with a witness and documentation, facilities protect themselves against drug diversion and hefty fines from regulating authorities.
Rx Destroyer™ offers drug disposal solutions to nursing homes and long-term care facilities with easy to use products which meet DEA regulations.
Rx Destroyer™ is dedicated to saving water and saving lives, one prescription at a time. We offer easy to use products which meet DEA regulations for chemical digestion which renders pharmaceuticals non-retrievable. Contact us to learn more about protecting your facility and your staff with compliant drug disposal practices in your long-term care facility.