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The Basics of Safe Medication Storage and Disposal

In the past, the public perceived the school nurse as the chief bandage dispenser. Today that is far from reality as school nurses have taken on many roles. The most common role of the present-day school nurse is medication administration for children with varying chronic health conditions (learn more from the CDC).

Medication Storage 

A major component of medication administration is the need to keep medications in a safe, secure place and at ideal temperatures according to federal and state regulations and recommendations. According to “School Nursing: A Comprehensive Text”, nurses should ensure:

  • All student medications, except emergency rescue medications, are in a locked cabinet or drawer.
    • Access should be restricted to specific personnel.
    • Medication cabinets should be securely mounted to a solid surface.
    • Medication cabinets should have solid doors to prevent breaking and ensure privacy.
  • The temperature of refrigerators used to store medications is being monitored.
    • Refrigerators should be locked or in a locked location.
    • Medicines should not be stored with food.

Medication Disposal

With the large amount of medication being administered to students, school nurses may find that their cabinets, drawers, and refrigerators become filled with expired medications over time. And just as it’s important to store that medication properly, it’s also important to dispose of it properly. But how?

The DEA’s Disposal of Controlled Substances Brief requires the destruction of controlled substances. While it does not specify a method of disposal and destruction, it does require that the substances be non-retrievable (i.e. the substance has gone through a process that alters it so that it is unavailable and unusable) and not capable of being transformed into a controlled substance.

MacGill recommends the Deterra® Drug Deactivation System to meet the “non-retrievable” DEA standards. The system is powered by a proprietary MAT12® Molecular Adsorption Technology which deactivates prescription drugs using activated carbon. The technology is highly effective in absorbing and firmly binding pharmaceuticals, rendering them inert, unavailable for misuse and safe for the environment. It’s also a popular product because it can be simply disposed of in the trash, no special disposal is required. You can learn more by clicking here.

Another option for medication disposal is the Sharps® TakeAway™ Medication Disposal which is sold as envelopes and boxes that come with prepaid shipping labels. The envelopes can simply be dropped off with the U.S. Post Office and the boxes can be shipped via UPS. It’s a hassle-free solution for nurses to ensure that medications are being properly handled and disposed.

To shop MacGill’s selection of medical carts, cabinets, narcotic cabinets, lock boxes and refrigerators, click here.

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