Methadone is a synthetic, narcotic analgesic used in the treatment of drug misuse. Tragedies involving children being poisoned by the accidental ingestion of methadone are no longer a rare occurrence. Following an audit of the effectiveness of the provision and recall of information to patients attending an NHS Methadone Clinic a protocol was introduced to ensure that staff documented the provision of such information and patients gave a written confirmation that they had received the information.
The study was undertaken in the setting of an NHS methadone clinic with the aim of re- auditing the storage of methadone at home following the introduction of the new protocols. 174 patients completed an anonymous questionnaire regarding where they store methadone at home and whether they recall being given advice about safe storage. Community pharmacists were contacted by telephone to assess the level of advice given to methadone patients regarding safety.
Only 49 (28.2%) patients recalled being given advice about safe storage, 24 (13.8%) recalled that information was provided by clinic staff. 170 (97.7%) patients regard methadone as being dangerous. (28.2%). Methadone is most commonly stored in a cupboard (37.9%). All methadone is dispensed in a bottle with a child resistant cap on it. All patients reported they stored their methadone in the original bottle provided by the pharmacist.
Recall of information on safety issues is very poor. Provision of written as well as verbal information is needed. The use of printed safety information cards which patients can take away for future reference may be of use. It is the responsibility of health professionals to ensure they provide information and advice to methadone users on the safe storage of their methadone at home.
Harm Reduction Journal. 01/2008;