The unauthorized transfer of controlled substances from legal sources to illicit markets or for personal use continues to plague the healthcare industry. Thirty percent of respondents in a recent study conducted by Bluesight Technologies said they knew of colleagues who diverted opioids. That is almost 20% over last year. This figure could, however, be due in part to more accurate reporting and/or better early identification of potential diverters rather than a higher rate of diversion. To this point, the 2022 Diversion Trends Report found that many hospitals were conducting twice as many investigations resulting in more drug anomalies. The positive side to these figures is that hospitals are becoming more proactive with their detection. By putting specific policies, procedures, and technology into place, your organization can join the fight to prevent diversion.
Strict regulations should govern all aspects of controlled substance handling within any facility, including ordering, receiving, storing, dispensing, and returning. Policies and procedures as common as continued education and training for all staff members on diversion risks, as well as training staff on how to spot the signs of diversion and ways to prevent it all work. Healthcare providers and outside contractors with access to controlled medication should also expect to undergo routine background checks for histories of drug abuse or diversion as part of their continued employment. Clear guidelines on how to handle suspected diversion and expected consequences help facilitate reporting and ultimately deter employees from engaging in such behavior.
Last year, HPOR found that controlled substance tracking software was the #1 technology initiative taken by hospitals. This is not surprising considering the security, tracking, and reporting benefits offered by ADCs and their companion software. Unlike Manual Emergency Boxes (e-boxes) which have no built-in safeguards, ADCs accurately dispense only what’s needed, restrict access to authorized employees and record all prescriptions flowing in and out of the device, including when and who accessed what medication. The software automates these processes so that nurses and pharmacists don’t need to manually log activity and diverters cannot conveniently avoid doing so. With ADCs in place, hospitals and other facilities can easily run reports and complete audits to detect unusual activity or discrepancies all with much less concern for human error, innocent or not.
Replacing your e-box with an automated medication dispensing cabinet does not mean you’re adding complexity to your staff’s day. In fact, with the right hardware and software in place, ADCs can not only help with diversion, but can also improve efficiency and outcomes. ADC’s from TouchPoint Medical are intuitive, reliable and affordable. They offer a much more secure option for facilities that need added security but must also be cost conscious and sensitive to existing workflows.
ADCs play an essential part in larger networks of security measures for today’s most advanced hospitals. While they provide very detailed insight into exactly when specific medications are being accessed and who accesses them, alarms, dedicated security personnel, and surveillance cameras also help prevent theft and unauthorized access to controlled substances. Visibility and awareness of these technologies also act as deterrents for professionals tempted to divert opioids, thus reducing incidents.
For most healthcare facility types, a purposeful update in healthcare technology will go a long way toward preventing diversion, and ensuring patients receive exceptional care. TouchPoint Medical provides hospitals, LTCs, and other healthcare environments with everything they need to shore up medication security and nothing they don’t. With a variety of dispensing models to choose from, TouchPoint Medical’s ADCs and medication management software address the needs of nurses, pharmacists, managers, and of course, patients. Our dedicated staff will work with you to identify exactly what will best enhance your workflow while protecting against diversion.