Changes to the Controlled Substances Act and Impacts on Hospice Staff

The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (Pub. L. 115-271, the “Act”) was signed into law on October 24, 2018. Section 3222 of this sweeping federal opioid legislation amends the Controlled Substances Act to permit certain hospice staff to handle lawfully dispensed controlled substances to assist with disposal of the drugs. Designated staff are permitted to dispose of the drugs unless state law prohibits this or has further restrictions. This is a “may” not a “must.”

VNAA and ElevatingHOME understand it can be confusing since the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) all have opinions on proper disposal of medications. With three federal agencies and state level counterparts having wide-ranging standards on safe disposal, how are hospice providers to know which guidelines are the ones to follow? 

Since the new language became law on January 1, 2019, the DEA began working on a final rule for implementation to be out this year. Until further clarification is published, it’s time to start the dialogue with your state agencies, associations in your service area and those close to home. Once you make the decision to enact the law or sit it out, staff onboarding, and continuing education should include this topic. Families and caregivers should also understand the policy and procedure. VNAA and ElevatingHOME is monitoring the dialogue and will share any new documents as they are published. 

For timely updates: Follow us @ElevatingHOME on Twitter. 


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