Challenges with Pharmaceutical Waste Management in the Healthcare Industry
For more than a decade, the healthcare industry has grappled with confusing regulations around pharmaceutical waste management. These regulations can vary widely from state to state and have a big impact on organizational compliance. As regulations are constantly changing and nursing staff and other similar departments have other focuses, keeping everyone in-the-know is challenging.
This educational gap is rooted in one of the country’s largest areas of workplace turnover, where key players are tasked with keeping our fellow citizens healthy, strong, and in some cases, alive.
By improving our understanding of these departments – how they learn, why they fail, and ultimately what makes them excited to be a part of a solutions driven team, EH&S professionals can close the pharmaceutical compliance gap.
The Current State of Affairs
Many hospitals are not meeting federal, state, and local requirements related to collecting hazardous and state-regulated pharmaceutical waste. Here are some common instances currently happening in hospitals across the country:
- Staff is overwhelmed by number of pharmaceutical categories.
- Healthcare professionals partake in minimal education. Many healthcare institutions make the mistake of educating only those who have in-depth roles with pharmaceutical waste management leaving out important groups like nursing.
- Collection containers have confusing labels. Without official training this can result in many questions from the nursing staff: What do you expect me to collect? You want me to collect those empty wrappers? How am I supposed to understand which container is the correct container?
- Nursing staff has no input or control over the program. Due to the nature of compliant pharmaceutical disposal methods, the nursing staff often becomes the unofficial center of a program. Without any input to build, maintain, or control the program, nurses often become frustrated with the unknown, and ultimately begin collecting everything. Or even worse, nothing.
The Cost of Pharmaceutical Waste in Healthcare
Beyond monthly disposal costs in dollars, poor training in healthcare can result in other costs that can have negative impacts on your organization. Some other costs often impacted by poor training include:
- Lack of Program Buy In. Resulting in confusion, lack of efficiency, and incompliance.
- Collecting More than What’s Required. Upping disposal and labor costs.
- Lack of Competency. Some staff members will not be able to perform their primary job function due to poor training.
- Unsuccessful Program Roll Out. Rolling out an unsuccessful program can lead to reputation tarnish, lack of credibility, wasted time, and potentially losing great resources.
- Compliance. In addition to costs in money, time, and efficiency, improper training can cost your organization its compliance.
Reducing the Cost: You Have a Choice
When developing a pharmaceutical education program, it’s important to understand that most programs tend to lose some steam once they have been implemented. Reducing cost in a sustainable way is difficult and often requires some upfront investment.
Most institutions will ultimately be forced to move onto the next compliance project or safety-related challenge. When developing an education program, it’s critical to continue to fill the pipeline with updates to modify and grow an existing pharmaceutical program.
Employee retention in many cases hinges on an employee’s ability to feel comfortable and safe with the role in which they have been given. We have seen instances where employees have refused to participate until they have been given the training required to perform their roles. Educated employees at a minimum allow for smarter decisions in unlikely scenarios.
One avenue to help foster support is to allow employees the leeway to own a process and to thrive within a system they helped create. Keeping them excited over a regulatory matter is difficult at best, but a great place to begin is program ownership. Ownership only exists through a high level of education and moving the needle forward. When training nursing staff, these tactics can be implemented as a way to help reduce overall cost.
Without a doubt, the most important thing for caregivers to focus on is their patients. Triumvirate understands this and has realized the solution to pharmaceutical waste problems caused by untrained nursing staff is creating a simplistic program that meets regulatory requirements and training staff thoroughly on it. Click the button below to learn more about our pharmaceutical waste management services, and how we can help you reduce costs and stay compliant today.