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Safe Medication Disposal

Haughey, Cynthia W., MSN, RN; Lawson, Delaney, BSN, RN; Roberts, Katelyn, BSN, RN; Santos, Melanie, BSN, RN; Spinosa, Stephanie, BSN, RN

doi: 10.1097/NHH.0000000000000719

Safe disposal of expired or unused medications is essential for individual and environmental safety, yet many patients report not having received education on proper medication disposal. Unused medications in homes and improper medication disposal create various risks including intentional or accidental misuse, overdose, addiction in humans, as well as toxic effects in pets. As part of their community health clinical experience, senior nursing students from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing visited patients of a large home care and hospice agency in a Philadelphia suburb throughout the semester. A survey conducted with a small number (N = 15) of home care patients suggested the majority of patients had inadequate knowledge about safe medication disposal. The nursing students created and presented a tip sheet on safe medication disposal and a list of local prescription medication disposal sites to home care patients. They also obtained and provided medication disposal bags for patients and caregivers who were unable to get to medication disposal sites.

Cynthia W. Haughey, MSN, RN, is an Adjunct Clinical Instructor, School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Delaney Lawson, BSN, RN, is a Staff Nurse in the ED, Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center, Plainsboro Township, New Jersey.

Katelyn Roberts, BSN, RN, is a Staff Nurse in the SICU, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, New York.

Melanie Santos, BSN, RN, is a Staff Nurse in the Mother/Baby Unit, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York.

Stephanie Spinosa, BSN, RN, is a Staff Nurse in the MICU, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Address for correspondence: Cynthia W. Haughey, MSN, RN, 100 W. Evergreen Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118 (

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