| abuse

Safe Medicine Disposal: Prevention Diversion Through Patient Education

Straightforward Instruction on Opioid Disposal Techniques is Simple, Low-Cost, and Effective

Results of a study conducted by researchers from Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, suggest that a new patient education brochure is effective in forestalling diversion of opioid medications. The patient education material outlines safe medication disposal practices, and was developed by a team of practitioners using FDA guidelines and published medical reports. Patients are encouraged to mix surplus unwanted opioids with liquid dish detergent or other undesirable household substances such as coffee grounds in a plastic food storage bag. Coauthor Jessica Hasak, MPH, commented, “Our thought was that the simpler and easier for the patient the instructions and disposal method can be, the more likely we as medical practitioners will be to empower them to do something about the problem.”

To assess the effectiveness of the brochure approach, the researchers studied 334 patients who underwent surgical procedures at Washington University in 2017. 170 patients received the brochure, and 164 did not. 22% of patients in the former cohort disposed of unwanted opioids vs 11% of patients in the latter. Coauthor Susan Mackinnon, MD, FACS, said “Our big goal is to empower everyone to potentially save a life of a young person by getting a national campaign led from the ground up to clean these drugs out of medicine cabinets.” Ms. Hasak added “We were encouraged by our findings and have now designed and are testing an even more straightforward one-page brochure to see if disposal will be even more efficient.” The education initiative, and assessment of effectiveness was published as an article in press ahead of print in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Read a news story about the recommendations.

The journal abstract may be read here.

Sign Up

Subscribe to the PAINWeek Newsletter
and get our latest articles and more directly in your inbox.