CMS Guidelines Unclear for Medication Disposal

Providers are waiting for DEA guidance on the updated rule that allows hospice nurses to dispose of meds when a patient dies.  Judi Lund Person, VP of Regulatory and Compliance at NHPCO has met with representatives of the DEA and hopes to have more information by the end of January.

For now providers are advised to hold off on updating policies to allow staff to dispose of meds. 

Here are some of the issues that await DEA guidance:

  • What to do if the family declines assistance with disposal of meds
  • If Hospice follows the new rule and educates family ahead of the death on how meds will be disposed of, will there be a requirement for a family member to sign something giving the hospice staff member permission to dispose of the meds at the time that they carry out the disposal process
  • Will the hospice staff member be allowed to dispose of meds prescribed before the patient signed onto hospice
  • Can the hospice staff member dispose of meds that are no longer needed before the death of the patient?
  • If a patient revokes the benefit and a comfort kit is in the home, can the hospice staff member dispose of the kit
  • If a state has a rule to allow hospice nurses to dispose of meds and it is different than the DEA rule, how will the differences be handled?