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carbon, disposal, narcotic



  1. Barbanel-Yuni, Julie BSN, RN
  2. Darcy, Jennifer PhD, RN, PNP-BC


Introduction: It was noted that caregivers of pediatric surgical patients are often not able to speak to the correct disposal of leftover narcotic pain medication. The purpose of this process improvement project was to increase the knowledge and use of activated-carbon-based deactivation kits during the discharge process to increase safe medication disposal.


Methods: A team was formed to increase safe disposal. The team developed a plan for the pharmacy to provide quick facts when dispensing narcotic pain medication, giving instructions to the parents about how to obtain an activated-carbon-based deactivation kit if they had unused narcotic medication. In addition, the dangers of incorrect disposal of narcotics were included. The nurses provided verbal education to the parents on the safe disposal at discharge to home. Furthermore, parents were reminded of the opportunity to utilize an activated-carbon-based deactivation kit provided from the hospital pharmacy to dispose of the narcotics during postsurgical follow-up call.


Results: The hospital pharmacy saw a sixfold increase in the dispensing of activated-carbon-based deactivation kits since the education was initiated. Caregivers noted a 68% increase in reporting of proper disposal of narcotics.


Discussion: Implementation of a standardized educational practice for the families of patients being discharged with narcotic medication resulted in an increased awareness of safe disposal of narcotics and an increase in dispensing of activated-carbon-based deactivation kits. Ultimately, this resulted in the families having a greater confidence in caring for their children at discharge as reported on patient satisfaction surveys.