Medication waste disposal practices among patients attending selected out patient departments in a tertiary care institution: a cross sectional survey

Vipula R. Bataduwaarachchi, Rameshkumar Thevarajah, Chamari L. Weeraratne


Background: Medication waste has major implications on human and animal health, environmental safety and the health economy. Low and middle income countries have paid less attention to proper medication waste disposal at household and community level. This is the first baseline assessment on medication waste disposal practices among the general public in Sri Lanka.

Methods: This was a descriptive, cross-sectional survey, conducted via face to face interviews using a structured questionnaire among selected outpatient clinics at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka. A non-probability sampling technique was used to achieve a representative sample from each clinic. The data collectors were trained prior to administering the questionnaire. Data was presented as descriptive statistics using percentages. Chi-square test was used to find associations.

Results: From the total number of participants (n=200) majority were females 135 (67.5%). Majority of the participants (78%) stated that they have unused medicines at home. Among them, tablet form was the commonest (78%) followed by topical preparations (49%). Commonest reason for having unused medicines at home were self-discontinuation as illness resolved (57.5%). There was a significant difference between the knowledge and practices when disposing tablet form (<0.001), syrups (0.002), topical preparations (0.04) and sharps (<0.001). Majority (23%) discarded sharp to rubbish bins. Rubbish bin was the commonest mode of disposal for all dosage forms as well as devices.

Conclusions: In this sample majority had unused medicines at home which was compatible with the pattern seen in other countries and need proper attention.


Medication waste, Pharmaceutical waste disposal

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