Drug diversion is a serious problem that threatens patients, healthcare workers, and the general public. Every healthcare facility needs to take steps to identify and prevent issues with drug diversion not just to protect its reputation and bottom line but as a matter of public health. Read on to find some tips for preventing medication theft in medical facilities that can help.
The most important step to take in the prevention of drug diversion is to implement access controls. Using products like Capsa Healthcare’s Automated Dispensing Cabinets that require authorization before dispensing controlled substances is a good start. It won’t prevent every instance of drug diversion, but it will stop patients and other unauthorized parties from gaining access.
Any employees authorized to dispense controlled substances should be monitored when accessing large supplies of them. Placing cameras at entry points to any storage or access area can help. That way, the surveillance video can be provided to security personnel or outside investigators when an instance of medication diversion occurs.
A hospital’s staff can act as its first level of defense against medication diversion, but only if everyone knows what signs of drug use or theft to look for. Common examples among nursing staff can include:
- Under-dosing patients
- Pulling duplicate doses
- Creating false verbal orders
- Failure to document waste
- Frequent medication errors
Create Clear Reporting Guidelines
If a staff member notices a nurse, aide, or other care worker acting impaired or engaging in these common behaviors that indicate drug diversion, there should be a clear, consistent procedure in place for reporting it. Remember, healthcare professionals are ethically bound to protect patients. If other employees are impaired by drugs or are causing active harm by denying patients the medications they need, colleagues should always speak up.
Perform Internal Audits
Internal audits should be performed frequently in high-risk areas like pharmacies, operating rooms, and storage areas. Experts often recommend daily audits of controlled substance data plus a review of the medical records to make sure it matches up. Using prescription auditing software can make this process easier. Just make sure the audit is conducted by at least two people to avoid gaps in monitoring and lend extra authority to the reports.
Screen Staff Carefully
Human resources can play a crucial role in reducing drug diversion by performing both criminal and financial background checks on new hires. Pre-employment screenings should also be conducted to determine whether a potential hire has ever been disciplined at a former job for mishandling-controlled substances. Ongoing drug screening of employees with access to controlled substances can also make it easier to identify problems.
Everyone Can Play a Role in Preventing Drug Diversion
Preventing drug diversion in healthcare facilities can’t be a job that’s left to just one security offer. All of the facility’s staff members must be trained to identify and report the warning signs. Everyone who works in a medical setting can and should play a role in preventing drug diversion and protecting patients’ health.