More Opioids Being Stolen From Hospitals

more opioids being stolen from hospitals

According to a report earlier this year by data analytics firm Protenus, the theft of opioids by medical professionals is a problem that is growing exponentially. Such thefts are called drug diversions. 

Shocking Statistics 

Protenus presented data that showed that in 2018, over 47 million doses of prescription opioids were stolen by medical professionals in the United States. This is a more than 126% jump from 2017. Of the 47 million prescription drugs stolen, the highest number were taken from hospitals and medical centers. The other top locations were private practices, long-term care institutions and pharmacies. 

Another socking revelation was that 67% of the time, it was doctors and nurses who were stealing these opioids. The most common medications that were stolen were Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and Fentanyl. 

Drug Abuse In Medical Facilities Well Documented 

The people who steal drugs and work in medical facilities are called impaired healthcare providers. They usually steal these medications for personal use, but there are also enough cases where drugs have been stolen to be sold or given to friends. 

Today, drug abuse by staff at medical facilities (hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and so on) is a well-documented problem and because of this, safeguards need to be put into place. 

According to healthcare experts, drug abuse is most common among younger resident physicians and practitioners, especially anesthesiologists, and there are some very high-profile cases of doctors and nurses being caught stealing drugs. 

Putting Safeguards In Place 

Medical facilities need to put policies and safeguards in place if they are to fight this epidemic. There are many things that they can do to protect patients as well as their own staff. 

Employee Assistance Programs 

When a medical organization takes a hard-nosed approach to drug addition among staff, all it serves to do is drive the problem deeper underground. 

To prevent this from happening, medical facilities should put strong and supportive employee assistance programs in place to help those who have become addicted to prescription drugs. 

While healthcare providers need to be removed from giving care to patients immediately, dismissing them immediately could make the problem worse. 

Safety For Whistleblowers 

Medical facilities must protect those who are reporting drug abuse and theft. A whistleblower program needs to be implemented at all medical facilities so that those who are doing the right thing are protected from repercussions. 

Using The Right Packaging 

All narcotics in a medical facility should be strictly and accurately accounted for. Which is why all narcotics should be stored in a tamper evident bag or even a tamper proof bag. 

This way, patients can receive the correct dose of their prescription drugs rather than just a small amount instead. Medical facilities across the US have started implementing the use of tamper resistant bags to prevent an escalation of thefts. 

Using Technology To Fight The Epidemic 

Strong policies and the use of tamper proof poly bags are not enough. To truly track prescription drug usage, technology must be leveraged to help fight this dangerous epidemic that has spread across medical facilities today. 

Once such tool is healthcare compliance analytics, which no only tracks activities across the system, but also proactively identifies drug theft risks through data analysis. 

Healthcare providers are the backbone of our society and when they start falling prey to drug abuse, the whole system stands to collapse.

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