Effect of lock boxes and education on safe storage of medications

Academic Article


  • Background: Safe medication storage is a proven barrier to ingestions in the pediatric population, but caregivers are often unaware of the importance of safe storage practices or do not have a safe place to store medications. Caregivers may also not be fully aware that the patterns of opioid use and misuse have recently reached crisis levels. The objectives of this study were to define medication storage practices and knowledge of the opioid crisis of participants and to assess the effectiveness of an emergency department intervention on safe medication storage. Methods: This was a prospective interventional study of caregivers in an urban pediatric emergency department (ED) on safe medication storage and the opioid crisis. Questions assessed the caregivers' current perceptions and practices related to medication storage and disposal, and opioid crisis awareness. The intervention included verbal instruction about recommended safe storage methods and the opioid crisis, provision of a medication safety handout, and distribution of a medication lock box. A follow-up phone survey conducted 2 weeks later asked participants about use of and satisfaction with the lock box. Frequencies of safe storage behaviors were calculated, and the chi-square statistic was used to compare storage behavior after the intervention. Results: Fifty caregivers of 112 children were enrolled. Only 4% reported they currently stored medications in a locked or latched place. Thirty-eight percent reported their main barrier to storing medications safely was that they did not have a locked or latched storage location. Fifty percent were unaware of the opioid crisis. Ninety-two percent reported they would use a lock box if given one. Twenty-eight participants (56%) responded to the follow-up phone call survey 2 weeks later. At follow up 90% (25/28) reported they placed their medications within the provided lock box (p < 0.00001). Ninety-two percent reported being "very satisfied" with the lock box and how it works. Conclusions: Despite widespread reporting on this issue, many caregivers remain unaware of safe medication storage practices and the opioid crisis. Providing medication lock boxes removes a commonly reported barrier to safely storing medications and improved reported practices.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Webb AC; Nichols MH; Shah N; Monroe KW
  • Volume

  • 7