Assisted Living Medication Management: Medication Storage and Disposal

Proper, secure medication storage is critical for many reasons:

  • If medications are not properly stored, they may lose efficacy or potency, therefore compromising the desired effect.
  • All expired, damaged, or contaminated medications must be stored separately until they are removed.
  • Improper storage may increase the potential for medication errors.
  • If medications are not properly secured, the opportunity for theft is increased, which can have tragic consequences.

Medications must be secured in accordance with laws and regulations to prevent access by unauthorized persons, and controlled substances must be stored and secured according to state and federal laws and regulations to prevent diversion.

Drug disposal is an emerging and complex issue, and there are various regulations that apply to pharmaceuticals with respect to public health and safety and the environment. Medication waste generally falls into one of three regulatory categories: hazardous waste, infectious waste (commonly called biohazardous waste), and solid waste.

Relevant Regulations

Adult Day Care (ADC):
Certification Standard I.F.(3)(c)

Family ADC:
Certification Standard I.D.(3)(c)

Adult Family Home (AFH):
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 88.07(3)(a)
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 88.07(3)(e)1

Community-Based Residential Facility (CBRF):
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 83.37(1)(g)1
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 83.37(1)(g)2
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 83.37(1)(g)3
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 83.37(2)(a)2
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 83.37(3)(a)
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 83.37(3)(a)1
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 83.37(3)(b)
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 83.37(3)(c)
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 83.37(3)(d)
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 83.37(3)(e)
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 83.37(3)(f)
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 83.37(3)(g)

Residential Care Apartment Complex (RCAC):
Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 89.13(22)



1.Can a staff person take residents medications to disposal site when the resident passes away?

If the medications include controlled substances staff from an assisted living will not be able to take the medications to a disposal site.

2. What is the best way to destroy fentanyl patches?

Fentanyl patches that have been used will still contain medication that can be harmful. Therefore the concern with fentanyl patches are to insure that accidental or purposeful use does not occur by removing the patch from easy access. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends folding the patch on itself and flushing the patch down the toilet. In those circumstances when flushing is not an option, then folding the patch on itself and securely disposing of the patch in a container may be an option. Facilities should work with their consultant pharmacist for options.

Last Revised: May 6, 2020