November 3, 2011

From "Vanderbilt Nurse": Raiding the medicine cabinet

America has a drug problem. But it’s not what you think; in fact this drug problem is probably happening in your community – even in your own home.

The problem is the accumulation of prescription drugs with no good plan for disposing of them. As the number of prescriptions continues to climb nationwide along with stockpiles of unused doses, people involved in public health and safety are beginning to see dangerous effects.

Carrie Plummer, MSN, instructor at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, says she became aware of the drug disposal problem when older patients would come into the Vanderbilt University Medical Center emergency department suffering from delirium. The suspected cause was often the improper use of their own prescribed medications.

“Families would bring in bags of all these prescription drugs, many of them expired. Or I would open a bottle in the emergency department and there would be three different doses of a medication in the same bottle,” Plummer said.

Read the whole story by Carole Bartoo from the latest edition of Vanderbilt Nurse.