A new piece of legislation aims to allow hospice staff to be able to dispose of unused medications after a patient has expired.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., introduced the Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act of 2018 — a bill allowing for the safe disposal of unwanted drugs when patients are receiving hospice care at home.
Called The Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act, the legislation would permit hospice staff (physicians and registered nurses) or emergency medical services professionals to dispose of controlled substances when a patient dies or a medication expires. It requires:
- Qualified hospice programs to have a written policy and procedure for drug disposal in place to be distributed to a patient’s family.
- Hospice employees, defined as doctors or registered nurses, to hold a mandatory conversation with a patient’s family member or representative about drug disposal policies when a controlled substance is first ordered.
- All drug disposals to be documented in the clinical record.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has shared support of the legislation. NAHC President William Dombi wrote, “Your legislation works to address the challenges faced by hospice programs related to disposal of controlled substances and signals a clear understanding of the need for ‘real world’ solutions to enable willing hospice providers to reduce the potential for diversion or misuse of controlled substances in patients’ places of residence.”
Joining Capito in the introduction of the bill were Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.