How Surgical Centers & Hospitals Can Help Fight the Opioid Crisis

March 2, 2022 | Drug Diversion Prevention

The opioid crisis in the United States is a full blown epidemic, with nearly 50,000 people having died from an opioid overdose in the U.S. in 2019 alone, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  Many factors contribute to the opioid epidemic including an increase of opioid prescriptions given by providers, an increase in outpatient surgeries where patients recover at home with prescribed narcotic medication, and drug diversion. Drug Diversion is the misuse or unintended use of prescription medications and is a leading cause of overdose deaths.

Education is Key to Prevent Drug Diversion

One of the leading causes of drug diversion is that patients do not discard leftover medication after a surgery or treatment and these leftover drugs fall into the wrong hands particularly children and young adults. A study reported in Anesthesiology News revealed extremely positive results for patients that were provided educational material on the opioid crisis, along with a solution to easily dispose of their opioid medications.

As reported, 71% of the patients in the study group, or 22 out of 35, had never had any education regarding how to properly dispose of medications by a medical provider.  Also worth noting, 19% of the patients questioned had used narcotic prescriptions that were meant for someone else. All participants in the study were given a questionnaire to complete prior to their operation, regarding their knowledge of medication disposal and past practices.  They were again given a questionnaire after their surgery, which was following education on the topic of how to properly dispose of medications.

Patients Use Drug Disposal When Provided by Doctors

One thing that made a big difference for this study group, is that along with education, they were offered an easy to use at-home drug disposal system that deactivates the opioid medications with an activated carbon formula. Education, plus the resources to correctly dispose of medications made a marked change in the behavior of all participants with encouraging results.

The same study referenced above reported that prior to being educated and provided a drug disposal product, 52% of patients did not dispose of their narcotic medication. After receiving education materials and a drug disposal product, the number of patients who properly disposed of their narcotic medication after surgery increased to 93.5%.

Rx Destroyer™ Helps Doctors Help Patients Dispose of Drugs

This study further revealed that patients would be more than happy to spend the nominal amount of about seven dollars to have a drug disposal product like the carbon activated product used in the study. The more doctors in surgery centers and hospitals that provide a simple solution like this to dispose of their leftover medication along with education about the risks of storing narcotic medication, the more drug diversion could be prevented in the home. Access to opioid medication found in medicine cabinets at the home is one of the largest contributors to drug diversion, and opioid overdose.

Many patients are aware of the problem caused by opioid medication, although they just didn’t know what to do or how to dispose of their leftover medication. As the public becomes more aware of the opioid crisis, physicians play a vital role in helping patients understand the importance of properly discarding their medication.

Rx Destroyer™ provides solutions to physicians and doctors in surgery centers and hospitals along with many other industries that prescribe and manage medication. Educating the end user on the proper use and disposal of controlled substances along with providing easy to use solutions is key to combating drug diversion. Contact us to learn more about how hospitals and surgery centers can help fight the opioid crisis with a safe and simple to use drug disposal product.