Statement of Purpose The purpose is to identify the role of injury prevention practitioners in safe medication disposal. Due to the remote nature of many tribal communities, it can be difficult to find resources to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs outside of the clinic setting. This can result in accumulation or stockpiling of medications in homes or improperly discarding in the trash or flushing down toilets. Published literature suggests unsecured medication left in homes contributes to increased risk of intentional medication misuse, theft and diversion, as well as increased risk of unintentional poisonings.
Methods/Approach With assistance from community partners, the Phoenix Area Indian Health Service Injury Prevention Practitioners initiated multiple community-based disposal projects to compliment clinic-based initiatives and improve prescription drug disposal practices in local tribal communities. Projects included piloting prescription drug disposal systems in participating communities as well as educating elders on proper disposal. One project distributed drug deactivation bags to elders in the home environment, while the other focused on evaluating medication drop box use in health care facilities.
Results Drug deactivation bags were distributed to 162 community households in five Phoenix Area tribal communities over a three-month period. The bags neutralized 8,011 pills, 777 milliliters of liquid, and eight medicated dermal patches. For the medication drop boxes, data was evaluated over one fiscal year; a total of 1,200 pounds of medication were collected and destroyed.
Conclusion These results show that community education coupled with access to effective disposal options in the home and local healthcare facilities are successful and scalable strategies that can be replicated in other communities.
Significance These two interventions have been recognized nationally in the Indian Health Service as a best and promising practice in addressing the opioid epidemic and safe medication storage practices.
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