Disposal of Controlled Drugs

Hospice of the Piedmont is committed to providing best practice in the disposal of medications in a safe, environmentally friendly manner upon death of the patient or discontinuation of the medication. This protects the patients, families and communities from harm, prevents the illegal diversion of unused  medications, and reduces the negative impact on the environment.

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Whenever prescription medications are no longer needed by the patient, they can be
destroyed safely by several methods.

Disposal Options

Safe drug disposal options for prescription medications include:

  1. Drug take back days with local law enforcement in the community
  2. Collection receptacles for drug disposal: local law enforcement, hospitals and retail pharmacies
  3. Mail-back programs
  4. Immediate disposal of patient drugs in the home

Disposal Process

The process for immediate disposal of in-home medications is:


  • create a slurry by mixing with an undesirable substance such as coffee grounds
    or Kitty litter
  • add a small amount of soapy water
  • place them in impermeable, nondescript containers such as an empty can or
    sealable bag
  • make certain the container is securely closed and placed in the trash.


  • cut into small pieces and place in the above mixture

All containers which held medications will be made unreadable by striking through
the information and/or removing the label from the container and discarding the
container in the trash

Disposal Documentation

The nurse shall document in the clinical record that the procedure for disposing of
medications was provided and discussed. This documentation will include who received the
instructions and their verbal understanding. Patient/caregiver education shall be provided
in a manner and language they can understand.

Occasionally, the family does not want a nurse visit by the Hospice of the Piedmont nurse
after the death of their loved one. In this case the nurse receiving the call shall instruct the
family how to dispose of all medications and document their verbal understanding in the
clinical record.

For Residents of Facilities

Hospice of the Piedmont patients residing in a nursing home or assisted living community
not owned and operated by Hospice of the Piedmont shall have their drugs disposed of
following the policies and procedures of that facility.