How Hospice Care is Fighting the Opioid Epidemic
Hospice nurses wear many hats such as, helping patients and their family members understand complicated medication regimens and advising them on how to store and safely dispose of them. A recent US Government Accountability Office report found that many hospice medications, particularly opioids, end up in the wrong hands. This is why the federal government has endorsed the hospice industry as a key player in fighting the opioid epidemic. Here is what families can expect and should know when hospice staff are faced with proper disposal of medications.
• Qualified hospice staff are authorized to dispose of patients’ lawfully dispensed controls following death, expiration, or a change in the plan of care that no longer includes the medications.
• Staff are required to train and document the disposing of controls in a secure and responsible manner to discourage abuse, misuse, or diversion.
• Hospice agencies have written policies and procedures regarding the disposal of controls. They provide, effectively communicate, and document the communication of these policies and procedures to the patient, patient representative, and family when controls are first ordered.
• After disposal staff must document in the patient’s clinical record the type of control, dosage, route of administration, and quantity so disposed as well as the time, date, and manner of disposal.