The National Patient Safety Foundation is promoting Patient Safety Awareness Week from March 8-14.
As part of the festivities, The American Recall Center is hosting a Medicine Cabinet Clean Out Challenge and has challenged you to start Patient Safety Awareness Week in your very own home.
You know the old saying, “Practice what you preach.” By going through the three steps of the medicine cabinet challenge, you’ll feel inspired to encourage friends and family to do the same.
Medicine Clean-Out Challenge
Step 1: Know your medications
Nurses likely have this part down. But even we can fall into bad habits of our own. Do you take your prescriptions as prescribed? Are you truly familiar with all possible side effects of the drugs you take? Peruse your drug guide to refresh your knowledge. You can refer your friends and family to the FDA Medication Guide for easy-to-understand, drug-specific information.
Step 2: Secure your medications
Approximately 52 million people have used a prescription drug for a nonmedical purpose, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. 1 in 12 high school seniors report having used Valium in the past year, and 1 in 20 have taken OxyContin. The American Recall Center recommends giving thought to whether your medications are securely stored. It’s also important to monitor how much medication is contained in your medicine bottle.
Step 3: Dispose of your medications safely
It’s important to dispose of any unused or expired medications safely. One way is through medication take back programs. Call your pharmacy to inquire about a local medication disposal program. Another option is to mix (without crushing) unused or expired medications with a substance such as kitty litter, placing the mixture in a plastic baggie, and disposing of it in the trash. Be sure to scratch out any identifying information located on the medicine bottle itself. The FDA recommends certain drugs, particularly opioids, be flushed down the toilet. Keep in mind that medication take back programs may be unable to accept controlled substances. In addition to safe medication disposal, the American Recall Center urges you to review up to date drug safety information, including a history of FDA actions (for example, Accutane FDA News).
There’s no better way to start spring cleaning than in your own medicine cabinet. Share safe medication use and storage tips with colleagues, friends and patients.
Further reading from American Recall Center
- Resources for caregivers
- Visual guides