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Storage and Disposal

Storage of medications

Generally non-emergency medication should be stored in a locked cupboard, preferably in a cool place. Items requiring refrigeration may be kept in a clearly labelled closed container in a standard refrigerator and the temperature monitored each working day. Consideration should be given as to how confidentiality can be maintained if the fridge is used for purposes in addition to the storage of medicines. All storage facilities should be in an area which cannot be accessed by children.

Wherever appropriate, pupils in secondary schools should be allowed to be in charge of their own medication, either keeping it securely on their person or in lockable facilities. It is advisable for a risk assessment to be completed in order to minimise the potential for harm to occur. Children in primary schools/early years settings generally will not be in charge of their own medication, except for medication such as asthma inhalers, dextrose tablets. This will depend on the child’s age, maturity, parent/carer and school consent.

All emergency medication e.g. inhalers, Epipen, dextrose tablets and anti-convulsants must be readily accessible but stored in a safe location known to the child and relevant staff (see condition guidelines). This location will be different in every school/setting; according to where the pupil normally has lessons/child spends most of their day, the size and geography of the school/setting and the pupil/child’s age and maturity. Possible locations include the classroom, medical room, school/setting office or head’s office. Medication should always be kept in the original dispensed containers. Staff should never transfer medicines from original containers.

Local pharmacists and school nurses/health visitors can give advice about storing medicines.

Disposal of any sharp items (sharps)

Some procedures involve using sharp items (sharps) such as lancets for blood glucose monitoring. The safe disposal of sharps is essential if accidents and the consequent risk of infection with blood borne viruses are to be avoided. Sharps injuries are preventable with careful handling and disposal. Ensure any sharps bins are located in designated areas, in a safe position at waist height. Sharps bins must never be kept on the floor.

It is the personal responsibility of the individual using the sharp to dispose of it safely.
Dispose of used sharps immediately at the point of use. Always take a suitable sized sharps container to the point of use to enable prompt disposal and ensure the temporary closure mechanism is in place when the sharps bin is not in use.

Sharps bins are available on prescription where needed. Children should not be carrying used sharps bins to and from school themselves. Arrangements for disposal should be outlined in the child’s care plan. Bins should be emptied when they are two thirds full.

Further policy advice can be obtained from the Health and Safety Support team, Solihull MBC e.g. handling a needle-stick injury.

Return of Medication

Medication should be returned to the child’s parent/carer whenever:

  • The course of treatment is complete
  • Labels become detached or unreadable. (NB: Special care should be taken to ensure that the medication is returned to the appropriate parent/carer.)
  • Instructions are changed
  • The expiry date has been reached

This should be documented on the administration record held in the child’s file and the care plan amended accordingly. The parent/carer should be advised to return unwanted medicines to their pharmacist.

In exceptional circumstances, e.g. when a child has left the school/setting, it can be taken to a community pharmacy for disposal. Medication should not be disposed of in the normal refuse, flushed down the toilet, or washed down the sink.

It is the parent/carers responsibility to replace medication which has been used or expired, at the request of the school/setting staff.