Drug Diversion in Health Care Is a Real Threat
Diversion is a major concern in hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, pain clinics, medical practices, pharmacies and continuing care facilities due to the wide availability of controlled substances and the ease of access health care workers have to potentially addictive drugs.
Prescription painkillers, such as hydromorphone and morphine, and other drugs such as propofol, are frequently used in surgeries, outpatient procedures, long-term care facilities and throughout other health care sites. Without a robust drug diversion prevention program, health care organizations can inadvertently provide opportunities for controlled substances to be diverted by staff or other individuals present at the facility.
Drug Diversion Can Be Hard to Spot
One of the challenges with addressing drug diversion is that it is not always easy to spot a diverter. For this reason, it is particularly important to have solid policies and procedures in place, and to reinforce them through surveillance and training. When organizations rely on processes rather than perceptions and assumptions, they decrease the likelihood of diversion.
For example, without strict policies and procedures for medication ordering and dispensing, a staff member could obtain a controlled substance without an order or administer less than the correct amount, secretly keeping the rest of the substance for personal use. If he or she “pre-pulls” the medication—a common practice in many health care organizations to save time—there is yet another prime opportunity for the staff person or a colleague to keep the dose.
Focusing on Appropriate Controlled Substance Waste Disposal
Although an effective diversion program has multiple facets, one of the key elements involves ensuring proper wasting. When organizations have the right pharmaceutical disposal policies, training, and equipment from end-to-end, they can head off a number of diversion risks. For instance, strict procedures for documenting controlled substance disposal, which involve two people (the disposer and a witness), can minimize the chance of theft. When organizations apply these procedures along with waste disposal containers that automatically deactivate controlled drugs on contact, they can rest assured that medications are completely disposed of and cannot be retrieved for later use.
Seek a Controlled Substance Waste Partner
Developing a drug diversion program for your health care facility requires commitment. With the right partner, you can streamline the process and be confident in the results. Stericycle has a comprehensive controlled substance waste disposal program that is designed to help health care organizations with their medication diversion prevention efforts. Between our in-depth training, specially-designed containers and deep knowledge of the rules and regulations, we can serve as a valuable resource in addressing this concerning issue.