Assisted Living Facilities Excluded from EPA Final Rule on Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare®

I just blogged on the December 11, 2018 EPA Final Rule that is awaiting publication in the Federal Register.  Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed this final rule on December 11, 2018 however the clock for implementation 6 months later cannot start until the partial government shutdown is over.  When that happens, this final rule can be published.

It’s important to note that the final rule differs from the proposed rule posted in September 2015 in that Assisted Living facilities have been excluded from needing to comply with these EPA regulations.  Other post-acute care providers and entities are included.

EPA listened to AL providers and AL advocates then decided to exclude assisted living communities, group homes, independent living communities as well as independent living and assisted living portions of CCRCs.  Why were these groups excluded?  Here are some of the reasons addressed in the final rule:

  • Some assisted living facilities do not provide medication management with some states prohibiting ALs from managing medications
  • Many assisted living facilities do not have on-site nursing or other medical staff
  • ALs have, potentially, multiple pharmacies providing services to tenants/clients within a given community

Overall, EPA recognized that assisted living communities are regulated at the state level and requirements vary from state to state.

AL communities are still responsible for the proper disposal of all hazardous waste outside of residential areas with some states having specific and potentially more stringent requirements for such disposal.

This statement is worth repeating again in this AL blog:

“The agency recommends that assisted living facilities, group homes, independent living communities, and the independent and assisted living portions of continuing care retirement communities develop voluntary pharmaceutical collection programs for both hazardous and non-hazardous waste pharmaceuticals as a best management practice, as allowed by DEA regulations, to ensure proper management, avoid flushing, and minimize the potential for accidental poisonings, misuse or abuse.”

The EPA does recommend that residents of assisted living communities follow the guidelines developed by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Food and Drug Administration and the EPA for the disposal of unwanted household pharmaceuticals.

Reference the information links in the paragraph above as well as the AL regulations for your state to ensure you’re compliant with pharmaceutical waste disposal.