Those who work in a hospital can tell you drug diversion is a grave issue that affects hospitals, pharmacies, and medical facilities all over the U.S. Though things were worse before 2010, and even with improved security measures and prevention strategies in place, drug diversion continues to be an immense problem. Not only does it cost a vast amount of money, but it contributes to worse problems in the long run. Here are ten strategies that any hospital can employ to help prevent drug diversion from happening.
- Anticipate diversion and thefts
Did you know that one in 10 healthcare workers will abuse drugs? The first step to preventing drug diversion is to expect it. One way to do this is by using an Automated Dispensing System. They eliminate the ability to prescribe “as-needed” medications, which helps prevent administrative errors and reduces the risk of theft or diversion.
- Implement a zero-tolerance policy concerning drug theft
This policy should also include coworkers who fail to report a member of the staff improperly disposing of patient drugs. Another excellent method to use is asking candidates for pre-employment drug screens and making attending classes about alcohol and drug abuse mandatory for potential hires.
- Don’t assume that theft will be noticeable
People don’t steal unless they think they can get away with it. Don’t ever assume that it will be immediately evident if there’s a problem. Even for areas with low rates of opioid use, it’s still crucial to employ prevention strategies. In fact, opioids are the most commonly stolen and abused drugs in medical facilities.
- Offer treatment options to employees who need help
While employees who divert drugs should be terminated, it’s crucial to offer them treatment options. Addiction is a serious disease, and even after firing an employee, it can be very compassionate and helpful to provide them with treatment options. They’re still human beings and deserve a second chance. And, if they’re stealing from their employer, they’re obviously at a terrible point in their life and could benefit from some help and treatment.
- Work with police instead of dealing with diversion issues in-house
Though it might be tempting to solve drug diversion problems in-house, it’s crucial to work with police and other law enforcement agencies. They can also offer valuable information about employees’ backgrounds or even process search warrants if necessary.
- Keep track of vulnerable areas
Whether it’s the pharmacy itself, the patient’s bedside, or the transportation process, keeping track of vulnerable areas is essential. If employees spot areas with potential weaknesses, implement strategies right away to avoid any issues from occurring.
- Use a waste retrieval policy with IV opioids and all painkillers
Every hospital or medical facility should have a policy in place where IV opioids and other painkillers are disposed of properly. If they’re not going to be disposed of, they should be returned to a vault with appropriate security in place for Class II controlled substances, with cameras always watching the entire process.
- Be mindful of thefts that occur during bedside care
While there are generally methods and fail-safes in place at the pharmacy and where drugs are stored, it’s critical to remember that thefts can occur at a patient’s bedside, too. Those fail-safes mean that diverters have to choose another method for stealing, which unfortunately happens frequently during patient care.
- Use a 24-hr anonymous hotline for employees to report thefts
This is another crucial strategy for hospitals to employ. Put up flyers and notices around the hospital or facility with the hotline number and information that callers will remain anonymous. Be sure to use qualified workers to answer calls on the hotline.
- Spread awareness
One important strategy to combat drug diversion in hospitals is to spread awareness. Whether it’s drug and alcohol abuse courses, learning seminars, or even flyers, let employees know that they have a safe space to confide or ask for help if they need it.
Fight Drug Diversion from Occurring in Medical Facilities with These 10 Strategies
Drug diversion is currently a critically important and significant issue that medical facilities and hospitals face every day. However, by implementing these ten strategies, you can help fight drug diversion and prevent it from happening. Try employing a 24-hr anonymous hotline, implement a zero-tolerance policy concerning theft, and offer those fired for drug diversion help or treatment options. Unfortunately, drug diversion is all too common in hospitals and medical facilities even where opioid abuse rates are low. However, using these strategies can help offer some protection against drug diversion and theft among medical employees.