Specialty Pharmacy Patient Safety
Learn about patient safety at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) Specialty Pharmacy.
Adverse drug reactions
Patients experiencing adverse drug reactions, acute medical symptoms, or other problems should contact their primary care provider (PCP), local emergency room, or 911.
Almost all medicines can be safely disposed of by using take-back programs or U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-authorized collectors. The D-H Pharmacy and the D-H Pharmacy at Centerra both provide an on-site drug collection receptacle for public disposal of unused prescription medications.
If a take-back or mail-back program is not readily available to you, most other unused or expired medicines can be disposed of in your household trash. First, mix the medicines (do not crush the tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds. Then place the mixture in a container such as a zip-top or resealable plastic bag, and throw the container away in your household trash. Before throwing out your empty pill bottle or other empty medicine packaging, remember to scratch out all personal information on the prescription label to make it unreadable.
How to throw away home-generated biomedical waste
Home-generated biomedical waste is any type of syringe, lancet or needle ("sharps") used in the home to either inject medication or draw blood. Special care must be taken with the disposal of these items to protect you and others from injury and to keep the environment clean and safe. If your therapy involves the use of needles, an appropriately sized sharps container will be provided. Please follow these simple rules outlined below to ensure your safety during your therapy.
After using your injectable medication, place all needles, syringes, lancets and other sharp objects into a sharps container. If a sharps container is not available, a hard plastic or metal container with a screw-on top or other tightly securable lid (for example, an empty hard can or liquid detergent container) could be used. Before discarding, reinforce the top with heavy-duty tape. Do not use clear plastic or glass containers. Containers should be no more than 3⁄4 full to reduce the risk of accidental needle "sticks".
Check with your local waste collection service to learn about how to dispose of sharps containers in your area. You can ask your prescriber's office about the possibility of disposing of items in the prescriber's office during your next office visit.
- Never replace the cap on needles.
- Throw away used needles immediately after use in a sharps disposal container.
- Plan for the safe handling and disposal of needles before using them.
- Report all needle stick or sharps-related injuries promptly to your physician.
If your therapy does not involve the use of needles or sharp items you do not need a sharps container. You should place all used supplies (e.g., syringes or tubing) in a bag you can't see through. Put this bag inside a second bag, and put this in your garbage with your other trash.
Infections can cause serious complications to your treatment. The best way to reduce your risk for an infection is to wash your hands often. Remember to always wash your hands before and after you prepare or handle any medication.
Follow the five steps below to wash your hands the right way every time
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
If no water supply is available, use an alcohol-based antibacterial hand cleanser such as Purell®.
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