All Points Medical Waste Blog

Can I throw my used transdermal patch in the trash?

Safe disposal of medicine patches saves lives

Many people use transdermal patches these days to treat a variety of illnesses and conditions. Some of these, including fentanyl patches used for treating chronic pain, contain very strong chemicals that can pose a serious risk to others who may come in contact with them. While patients may be instructed to fold the patch and throw it in the garbage or flush it down the toilet after use, the fact is, this kind of disposal can be extremely dangerous. For healthcare workers prescribing these patches and for all who use them, it’s important to take every precaution to eradicate accidental exposure to others including discarding them properly.
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What’s the danger of transdermal patches after use?

Transdermal patches are designed to administer medication through the skin over a certain period of time. When new, they contain a large amount of medicine and over time, either a few hours, days or a week, the medication slowly enters the body. The problem is that both new and used patches can be dangerous and even life threatening to children, pets and others who are unaware of the risks. After use, these patches still have medication left on them—in some cases up to 50% of the original dosage can linger on the adhesive. Chemicals like nicotine, hormones used to treat menopause, fentanyl, and others can cause serious health risks and be fatal, in addition to causing harm to the water supply and the environment.

Responsible disposal is crucial to protecting others

Throwing used patches into the regular trash can be hazardous and pose a risk to children, pets and the environment. There have been cases where a small child who mistook the discarded patch for a sticker died because he placed it on his arm. Other cases of illness have been reported when a dog chewed a discarded patch after rummaging through the garbage. Even if there are no children or pets in your household, it is best to err on the side of caution and either flush the used patch (if manufacturer’s instructions recommend) or take them to a reputable medical waste disposal site.

The EPA has been working to change regulations on the patches that are being flushed because of the implications of environmental damage, especially to our marine life. Used patches that end up in landfills can also cause harm, seeping chemicals into our soils. The most important thing is to ensure that you are responsible when throwing away used patches to reduce the risks associated with improper disposal.

All Points Medical Waste provides medical waste disposal throughout South Florida.
Our family-owned and operated company is committed to ensuring safe disposal of medical waste from facilities including doctor’s offices, clinics, treatment centers, surgical centers, dentist’s offices, veterinarian practices and more. For more information, please fill out this form or give us a call today.

Dawn Connelly

Dawn Connelly

Dawn is the vice president of All Points Medical Waste. All Points Medical Waste is a family-owned and operated medical waste disposal and compliance company that has been serving the Treasure Coast, Palm Beaches, and surrounding areas since 1994.
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