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Assisted Living: Medication Storage and Disposal

Storing medication correctly is important. When medications aren't stored correctly, it can cause the following problems:

  • Medications may become less effective.
  • More medication errors can occur.
  • Medications could be stolen.

Assisted living staff members must store medications according to state and federal laws. This includes controlled substances.

Proper disposal of medication is also important. There are many rules that explain how to get rid of medications. These rules help protect public health and the environment.

Disposed medication usually falls into one of three groups:

  • Hazardous waste
  • Infectious waste
  • Solid waste

Regulations

Resources

FAQs (frequently asked questions)

Can a staff member take a resident's medications to a disposal site when they pass away?

Assisted living staff can take some medications to a disposal site. They cannot take controlled substances.

What is the best way to get rid of fentanyl patches?

Used fentanyl patches still contain medication and can cause harm. To avoid harm, once the patch is removed, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends:

  • Folding the patch in on itself.
  • Flushing the patch down the toilet.
    • If flushing is not an option, then fold the patch in on itself and put it in a container.

Facilities should work with their consultant pharmacist on options.

Last revised January 13, 2023