Drug diversion is a growing problem


An uptick in the prevalence of prescription drug abuse and diversions has prompted a growing number of hospitals to seek training on identifying and dealing with drug abuse and diversion.

That is the view of Michelle Foster Earle, president of Omnisure Consulting Group, writing in the autumn edition of Healthcare Risk Management Review.

“There have been hundreds of news reports from the east coast to the west coast of prescription fraud, medical clinics that are actually pill mills linked to large numbers of overdose deaths, or healthcare workers stealing opiates or benzodiazepines and replacing them with look-alike medications,” she said.

“One of the most serious problems for risk management in hospitals and healthcare facilities is the theft of drugs and controlled substances by healthcare professionals in their employ, who are often addicted themselves.”

The threat to patients can be severe, she added. According to the 2010 National Drug Threat Assessment report, the most widely diverted drug in healthcare facility settings are opioids. Overall, opioid related deaths increased 98% from 2001 to 2006.

“It’s imperative that risk managers in hospitals and healthcare facilities work to develop and implement programs to effectively prevent and respond to drug diversions,” she said.

For further advice on how to deal with the issue, read the autumn edition of Healthcare Risk Management Review, out later this month.

Drug diversion, drug abuse, Omnisure, Healthcare Risk Management Review