14 May 2018
Drug diversion is when individuals steal controlled substances for recreational use. It poses a serious safety threat for healthcare organizations due to the considerable number of prescription painkillers administered in these settings. Unfortunately, many healthcare workers don’t fully realize the dangers that could exist at their organization, thinking that this issue is something that only happens in other places.
To ensure your staff truly appreciate the risks of drug diversion and their role in addressing it, it is critical to provide regular and detailed training. According to Kimberly New, JD BSN RN, founder of Diversion Specialists and an expert on controlled substance security, comprehensive education around drug diversion includes several key elements.
To underscore the seriousness of drug diversion, you should make sure that any training offers true-to-life examples that reinforce the message that this hazardous situation happens everywhere, and your facility is not immune. Examples could examine the ramifications of staff members taking opioids before treating patients or driving their cars home after their shifts end.
Staff should be fully aware of which medications fall under your controlled substance policies and what those policies entail. Employees should also be clear about the potential consequences if they don’t follow those policies in terms of job termination or loss of license.
A key strategy for limiting the likelihood of drug diversion is consistent and reliable disposal of any unused or expired medications. Controlled substance disposal must be witnessed by a staff member who attests that another staff member correctly and completely disposes of the drug. Staff should be trained on how to do both the disposing and the witnessing, and understand that these tasks are equally as important. In addition, if your organization uses specific waste containers for opioids—ones that include a substance that neutralizes the controlled drug—staff should be familiar with these receptacles and know when to use them. Be sure to give staff the opportunity to practice correct disposal to cement the process in their minds and make it routine.
Robust education is an essential element in preventing drug diversion. Discover how Stericycle can help you create and implement a comprehensive program focused on reducing drug diversion within your healthcare facility.
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