6.14. Steps needed after medication administration is completed, Disposal of unused medication or expired medication


  • Cleanse hands.
  • Initial the MAR immediately after the medication is administered and prior to the administration of medications to another resident QMAP must accurately document each medication given on the client’s MAR immediately after administration or monitoring. For PRN medications, remember to document the client’s request and the reason for giving the medication as well as the follow-up results.
  • Correctly document any medications that are refused or not administered.


 Disposal of unused medication or expired medication:
  1. Properly dispose of all used medication cups and used gloves which have come into contact with body fluids. You must wash your hands or use sanitizer before you move onto the next client.
  2. Medication containers should be returned to the appropriate storage location after administration. If medications have been removed from the original container they should not be returned to the original containers. They should be destroyed according to facility policy.
  3. Expired and Unused Medications The expiration date is one year after medication was filled (generally) or the expiration date on the medication container. Medications remaining past the expiration date are not to be administered. Expired and unused medications should be disposed of in accordance with facility policy. Generally, medications should be made unusable and discarded in the garbage.


You can take the medications out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter and a small amount of water to dissolve the medication. This should render the medication unusable. Or for example:

  • For pills: pour glue into pill container, after glue is hardened, container may be thrown into garbage can;
  • For liquids: pour cat litter or sand into container and wait for it to set-up, after it becomes hardened, it may be thrown into garbage can;
  • Disposal of medication must be documented on the medication record to verify it was destroyed, sign, date and have a witness also sign and date;
  • Items such as inhaler canisters may be placed in a sharps container or disposed of according to OSHA.

The personal and prescription information on the medication containers should be removed or obscured by using a permanent marker or placing duct tape over the information. Put the mixture in a sealable bag, empty can, or another container to prevent the medication from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.

        Do not flush the meds or pour down drain Medications should not be flushed down the toilet or poured down the drain unless the label or package instructions direct otherwise, this is most often seen with controlled substances. The destruction and disposal of controlled substances must be documented on the count form for each drug and witnessed by two QMAPs or other healthcare staff. Look for drug take-back programs in your area. These programs will incinerate the drugs as biohazardous waste which is more environmentally friendly.

  • Refill through date is variable and determined by the prescribing authority.

Each agency must have a policy to identify the process for disposing of unused, damaged, or expired medications