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The Escalation of Drug Diversion

Narcotic diversion prevention is extremely important to me. I have worked with hospitals and surgery centers for many years to minimize risk of diversion through staff education, recommendations to increase controlled substance security, narcotic auditing, and policy revisions. I have even met with national lawmakers to affect policy change in favor of more strict narcotic control. Because of the ongoing efforts of healthcare professionals like you and me, you can imagine how shocked I was to see a story on the CBS Evening News, just last week, reporting higher-than-ever diversion among healthcare workers. Despite increased awareness of this issue, the report demonstrated that diversion is getting worse, and not better. Over 31 million doses of opioids were stolen by physicians and nurses in 2018. This report, released by Protenus, also demonstrated a 126% increase in total doses stolen (47 million) from 2017 to 2018.

What does this mean for you? Increasing rates of diversion among healthcare workers is a startling reality. It means that the potential for diversion is present at every healthcare facility that stocks controlled substances. So what can we do about it? Be Aware Step one in the fight against narcotic diversion is awareness. Consider that diversion can happen to anyone, anywhere, and you have taken the first step towards protecting your patients, staff, and facility. Watch for the Red Flags Trust your instincts. If something doesn't look right or doesn't feel right, don't ignore it. Consider utilizing a reference such as this DEA Article on Diversion in Healthcare Workers or this ISMP Article about diversion risk factors. Remain Vigilent Don't allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security. If you've already increased security, performed audits, and provided staff education, keep up the good work! Is diversion prevention included in your new employee orientation materials so that all new hires have access to similar training? Did you audit once, or is this an ongoing diversion prevention measure? Did you install a security camera but never check the video footage? Make sure that your efforts count for all their worth and keep doing the work for you!

JDJ's first step... In 2017 we offered a diversion benchmarking opportunity. I've decided to offer this opportunity again. We will ask similar questions as the 2017 study so that we can track changes. We will also be asking new questions, relevant to changing regulations and laws, such as usage of medical marijuana by patients. We will be releasing the data collection sheet for this benchmarking study later this week. Feel free to share the study with all industry professionals! We welcome responses from non-clients in an effort to collect the most data possible.

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