Four Ways to Reduce Medication Waste in Your Hospital

Medication waste in healthcare is inevitable. It is very rare that the unit of issue of a vial or ampoule is exactly the required dose. This is especially true when it comes to injectable analgesics which require careful dose titrations. Here we explore three ways that your hospital can reduce medication waste:

  1. Smart Procurement. Purchasing and stocking a variety of ampoule/vial sizes will give front line staff the option to choose the most appropriate package size to meet their dosing requirements. For example, stocking the 10 mg morphine ampoule as well as the 15 mg morphine ampoule might not intuitively make sense but if the 15 mg dose is commonly used and only 10 mg ampoules are available then 5 mg is wasted with each dose that is administered. The added benefit of this strategy is that in the event of a drug shortage you will have a diverse inventory.


  1. Leverage Automation and Analytics. Automated dispensing cabinets such as Pyxis or Omnicell cabinets are ideal for medication management. These companies have also recently partnered with Pandora Analytics and can now greatly assist with inventory management and optimization. This technology can also efficiently detect drug diversion as an added bonus. Leveraging automation can help staff select the appropriate product to meet their dosing needs.


  1. Use Clinical Pharmacy Services. Clinical pharmacists can assist in optimization of therapy and this includes intravenous to oral stepdown. Over 90% of medication waste in healthcare facilities is in liquid form, usually as intravenous medications. Typically, oral medications come in a unit of use dosage form resulting in less medication waste so converting patients to oral therapies will reduce medication waste. As well, oral medications will also reduce nursing time and decrease your supply requirements.


  1. Employ a Centralized Intravenous Admixture Service (CIVAS). The benefits of a pharmacy CIVAS program are vast. Including, increase safety, improved compliance as doses are provided in a patient specific fashion and of course reduced waste.  Ready to administer patient specific doses provided by a CIVAS program result in no waste as they are provided in the exact form the nurse requires to administer.

Exploring these four aspects of your medication management system are critical to reducing your volume of medication waste generated by your facility.  Contact our pharmacists and Drug Destruction experts to dive deeper into this topic and see how we can help you better manage the medication waste at your facility.