Original Article

Storage of Medications: A Survey of Families in the Pediatric Emergency Department

Authors: Sydney M. Mohr, MD, Amanda I. Atkins, MD, Alicia C. Webb, MD, Kathy W. Monroe, MD, MSQI, Michele H. Nichols, MD


Objectives: To evaluate caregivers’ practice of prescription medication storage, particularly of opioid medications, as well as to provide educational materials to families about the opioid crisis.

Methods: Caregivers of patients in a pediatric emergency department were asked to participate in a survey about medication storage practices and beliefs, focusing on opioid medications. Data were collected through a survey documenting demographic data along with knowledge and behaviors of medication storage. Brief education about the US opioid crisis and safe storage was provided.

Results: In total, 233 families participated; 3 families declined; 11.5% of caregivers reported storing prescribed medications in a locked or latched place, although most store them “out of reach.” Most believed their child or children’s friends could not easily access their medications (81.8%). Families who did not keep their medications in locked or latched places had never thought about it (39.7%). In total, 33% of respondents were unaware of the opioid crisis; 87.4% of caregivers said they would use a medication lock box if given one.

Conclusions: Many caregivers are not aware of the opioid crisis and do not keep opioid medications locked up. Half of the caregivers surveyed stated they “never thought about” locking up medications. Most parents would use a lock box if given to them. This opens the door to further study, education, and interventions.

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