Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Spring 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


Political Science


This project is an explanatory case study that illustrates the problems associated with pharmaceutical disposal in regard to water quality. The purpose of the study is to investigate the current pharmaceutical disposal practices of hospice nurses, the attitudes of hospice nurses regarding current pharmaceutical disposal practices, and explore ways to educate the hospice community about the concerns associated with flushing pharmaceuticals. The study consisted of reviewing secondary research, completing a survey, forming a focus group, implementing a pilot study, and developing an education plan and outreach materials.

The researchers partnered with two local nonprofit organizations, Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP) and Georgia Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (GHPCO), in developing this project. GAWP sponsored participant incentives, provided meeting space, and endorsed the project deliverables. GHPCO facilitated the distribution of the survey to member organizations, assisted with the recruitment of focus group members, and provided feedback and guidance throughout the entire project. Our findings indicated that hospice providers are concerned about medication disposal practices and the potential harm hospice may be doing through current medication disposal methods. We also found that most nurses were receptive to changing current procedures. However, changing the existing policy does have some challenges. This study explores the issues facing both the hospice industry and the water industry in addressing the practice of flushing medications as a method for pharmaceutical disposal. Finally, it examines the utilization of tools such as advanced water treatment processes, legislation, and education to reduce the impact of this form of “nonpoint source pollution” in our water resources.