The discussion of old prescriptions is a departure from the normal discussions in this blog around Health and Life Sciences Architecture, but related enough for me to ask you (gentle reader) the question: What do you do with your old prescriptions?
A few days ago, my wife and I were cleaning out old prescription bottles, the kinds with a couple pills left from things like root canals, sinus infections, strained muscles, etc.
As we were going through them, the question became: what to do with them?
The SMARxT Disposal website has some good instructions – but they only go so far:
Good instructions for disposing of the pills. But their instructions to “destroy” the prescription label doesn’t give enough guidance or information.
Think about it: how exactly do you remove personal information from a pill bottle? Have you ever tried to remove one of those labels? That can be done with enough effort, but what about those pill bottles that have the information directly printed bottle itself, how do you handle those?
Because it just too hard, too much effort to remove the label, most people don’t do anything and just throw away the bottle, trusting our trash system!
Consider the implications:
Scary, huh? Worse yet, you call for your next prescription refill and find that it has already been filled. By someone else. And you are stuck.
And that isn’t to mention the other prescription theft possibilities. If they have your doctor’s phone number and your pharmacy’s phone number, the person with the information can call your doctor’s “refill line” or even a call for another new prescription. Pretty easy.
A few years ago I was embarking on a long overseas trip. Given that I was taking a few red-eye flights during the trip, I called my physician for some Ambien. After explaining the situation to the physician’s assistant for a few minutes, she asked for my name and date of birth (easy enough to get or know), asked where (what pharmacy) I wanted the prescription sent and 15 minutes later I went down and picked it up. Other than name and DOB, there were no questions asked by anyone from the doctor’s office to the pharmacy to verify my identity.
Worse yet, perhaps, personally, is the privacy implications. Those pill bottle labels imply every medical condition my family has had since we last cleaned the medicine cabinet. Do we really want that information in someone else’s hands?
Still, I’ve never protected the information on those pill bottle labels. Just threw them away. Until this last time.
I saw the recycling symbol on the bottle, thought “I should recycle that”, and was putting it in the recycling bin when I looked at the information on the label. The privacy implications of that label struck a chord. Thus, this blog is more an exploration of “how-to” than “do-this”.
So – what should I do with our old prescription bottles? I Bing the possibilities and find a few options:
At the end of the day what do you have once the label is removed? A bottle that can – and should – be recycled or reused. Of course, there are lots of ways to reuse old pill bottles… but we’ll let others handle that topic.