slams hospital for flushing drugs
Minister dumps on hospital
The Trillium Health Centre (THC) has come under fire from
Ontario Health and Long Term Care Minister Tony Clement
for its standard practice of dumping expired drugs into
our water system.
Clement denounced the
routine following a press conference Friday where he helped
launch a Shoppers Drug Mart initiative to keep household
drugs out of the water supply.
The dumping issue at THC
surfaced last week after complaints were made about the
But David Allen, a THC
vice president, downplayed the danger of the practice,
saying it was the way most Canadian hospitals get rid
of expired drugs or damaged narcotics.
He went further to admit
medications such as Demerol, Codeine and Morphine are
disposed of regularly at THC by dumping them down the
drain or flushing them down the toilet, namely in the
But when The News
questioned Clement about the practice Friday, he was quick
to condemn it.
"Certainly there will
be some redress. My Ministry will be working with the
management and staff at Trillium to correct this course
of conduct because that's just not acceptable," Clement
told The News. "When you're talking about hospitals,
there are standards in place with the disposal of medical
waste and other medications. We want a safe environment.
We want hospitals to be safe, but they have to operate
in an environmentally-safe and conscious manner as well."
Under provincial law,
however, the practice is perfectly legal even though trace
amounts of the narcotics still wind up in Lake Ontario.
Although Allen said Friday
THC would be happy to work with the province to alleviate
this process, he still maintained there is no need for
"We have not considered
it to be a health hazard because the moment these drugs
get put into the sink, they're automatically diluted."
said Allen. "But in a society that values the importance
of a clean environment, this is an area we can improve
Clement, also MPP for
Brampton West-Mississauga, warned when these type of drugs
are disposed like this, it could have an environmental
With pain killers and
narcotics, the amount the patient requires is often less
than what is in the bottle.
"The remainder of what
is in that bottle has to be wasted because it's been opened
for a patient," Allen said last week. "You can't go back
and refill the bottle."
At least two other hospitals
in the Greater Toronto Area also use this disposal method.
Staff at both THC and
Credit Valley Hospital (CVH) place pharmaceuticals in
a specially-labelled bio-hazard container to be incinerated.
For the most part, CVH
also disposes narcotics in this manner.
But CVH spokesperson Wendy
Johnson also admitted Friday "minuscule amounts" of narcotics
are dumped down the drain or flushed down the toilet.
"It is dumped in such
small quantities, little droplets even," she said. "There
shouldn't be any worries from our end about it showing
up in the water system."
When hospitals begin collecting
these drugs for incineration, it becomes a lengthy and
costly process, Allen added.
Health Canada is reviewing
this disposal process and its implications.