Hospitals fined for flushing pharmaceutical waste

As part of a larger crackdown on hospital pharma waste practices, New York's attorney general has reached an agreement with five healthcare facilities to stop "disposing" their pharma waste into the New York City watershed.

The five facilities--O'Connor Hospital, located in Delhi, Delaware County; Margaretville Memorial Hospital in Margaretville, Delaware County; Mountainside Residential Care Center, a nursing home in Margaretville, Delaware County; Countryside Care Center, a nursing home in Delhi, Delaware County; and Putnam Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home in Holmes, Putnam County--have agreed to redirect their pharmaceutical waste to proper waste management facilities. They also have been ordered to pay civil penalties for prior infractions and for the cost of the state's investigation, and must bring all waste management practices up to comply with both state and federal codes. 

In addition, each facility must spearhead "take back" efforts, making sure that area households properly dispose of any pharmaceutical waste. 

The settlements were part of a larger continuing investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo into the pharmaceutical waste management practices of healthcare facilities along the watershed. 

"When we fix our morning coffee it should include sugar and milk, not Ritalin and antibiotics, "Adrienne Esposito, who heads up a local  environmental group, said of the announcement.

The common practice of flushing unused pharmaceuticals allows for the release of painkillers, antibiotics, anti-depressants, hormones and other waste drugs into the watershed--the drinking water supply for almost half the state's residents, Cuomo said. To date, only trace amounts of pharmaceuticals have been found in the New York City drinking water supply. 

To learn more about the settlements:
- read this press release