Drug diversion has always been a problem in healthcare facilities, but it has been getting more attention than usual in recent years due to the ongoing opioid epidemic. Drug diversion can have serious consequences ranging from the impairment of healthcare providers to the denial of essential pain medications. This article will discuss strategies for preventing drug diversion in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
1. Restrict Access
One of the most obvious ways to reduce drug diversion rates in healthcare facilities is to restrict access to controlled medications using Automated Dispensing Cabinets. Only the dose ordered should be dispensed and both doctors and nurses should be required to log each use of the cabinet to ensure accountability. It’s also wise to restrict even authorized individuals’ access to sensitive medications until as close to the intended time of administration as reasonably possible.
2. Create Accountability
Just restricting access by requiring passwords may not be enough to prevent drug diversion in chaotic hospital settings. Creating accountability for all healthcare providers that are authorized to order and receive medications is another step that can help. This goal is often accomplished by requiring two or more people to confirm that orders match invoices or other documentation and to sign for them.
3. Document Everything
Thorough documentation is one of the most essential tenets of providing exceptional patient care. It’s also a necessity when it comes to preventing drug diversion. Healthcare organizations should begin by creating written policies regarding medication security and diversion, then move on to create written procedures for logging and storing medications. Each time a controlled medication is prepared or dispensed within the hospital, that should also be logged, as should medication inventories.
4. Develop Investigation Protocols
Just letting healthcare workers know that they will be held accountable for drug diversion won’t be enough to prevent every instance of attempted theft, so it’s also important for organizations to have investigation protocols in place. When a suspected instance of drug diversion occurs, a response team should be made available to review procedures, oversee investigative activities, review evidence, and make decisions about how to proceed. It’s also important to develop protocols regarding how alleged drug diversion will be handled, including standardization of interviews and procedures related to drug testing.
5. Educate Employees
A well-educated staff can be a resource for hospitals and other healthcare organizations that want to reduce rates of drug diversion. Investigational response teams should be provided with comprehensive education regarding drug diversion prevention techniques, associated state and federal laws, and methods for reporting suspected diversion. All healthcare providers that will have access to controlled substances should also be provided with training and education beforehand that helps them identify potential instances of drug diversion and informs them of the consequences.
For healthcare organizations that have yet to develop effective strategies for reducing drug diversion in their facilities, the best time to get started is now. Place an order for secure medication dispensing carts, start putting together a response team, and take advantage of educational resources.