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4 Nursing tips in honor of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

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The next National Drug Take-Back Day is slated for Saturday, September 26. It’s a chance for people to legally and safely dispose of old medications and learn more about the abuse of prescription drugs. Although this event only takes place once a year, nurses should be on the lookout for suspicious activity and negligent disposal of medications all the time.

Here are four tips for nurses in honor of National Drug Take-Back Day.

1. Take a comprehensive pharmacology course 
To combat drug misuse, the American Nurses Association suggested that all nurses undergo pharmacology training so they may learn about the misuse, abuse and addictive habits that can develop with the use of prescription drugs.

2. Get a second opinion 
Even though it can be intimidating to ask for someone else’s opinion, it’s best to get another opinion when it comes to medication. In an example provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, one physician ordered 260 milligrams of Taxol for a patient, but meant to get Taxotere. If you have a hunch that a medication you’re administering might not be appropriate, don’t go head-to-head with a clinician, but also don’t be afraid to ask a myriad of follow-up questions. Did the patient get this last week? When’s the last time this person had a dose? Is this the same drug? Sometimes inquiring about a medication can save someone from serious harm.

3. Encourage patients to properly dispose of medication
Inform your patients of National Drug Take-Back Day and similar dates so that they may safely dispose of old medications. You can also direct patients to the FDA’s website where you’ll find a guide to throw away medications and reduce the risk of accidental exposure. For example, medications should never be flushed down the toilet or sink. Nor should anyone throw away a bottle of pills without first scratching off personal information. This can lead to a myriad of problems, including identity theft.


4. Review how to handle needles and other sharps
Now is also a good time to review any of your notes on how to throw away needles and other sharp objects. As stated by the American Nurses Association, these injuries continue to be a serious health risk for nurses across the nation.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 385,000 sharps-related injuries occur each year, many of which go unreported. It’s up to the individual to protect him or herself from bodily harm on the clock.

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