April 6, 2021

Helping Hospitals Stay Several Steps Ahead of Drug Diverters Around The Clock

John Mihelic, RPh, Director, Drug Diversion Surveillance Platform

Studies predating the COVID-19 pandemic estimated that as many as 15 percent of healthcare professionals will misuse substances during their lifetime. Now exceedingly overworked and under-resourced due to the crisis, clinicians with easy access to powerful medications are especially vulnerable to addiction and the temptation to divert drugs. In other words, the number of healthcare professionals who misuse substances may now be much higher.

A 2020 study in Addictive Behaviors reinforced this alarming possibility, explaining that pandemic-related stressors which increase the general population's risk of substance use and abuse "can be compounded in essential workers and place this group at particularly high risk."

Seeking a better way to protect patients, employees and your organization from the dangers of drug diversion? Request a demo for Protenus Drug Diversion Surveillance.

The diverter's advantage

Just as the potential for drug abuse by healthcare personnel is now elevated, so is the likelihood that related drug diversion activity remains undetected for prolonged periods of time. Along with disrupting typical workflows, COVID-19 is understandably, yet regrettably, consuming much of healthcare's attention. These circumstances translate into fewer resources being devoted to drug diversion prevention. 

While benefiting from industry-wide distraction, the individuals responsible for drug diversion continue to use a variety of cunning strategies to keep their behavior under the radar. One such strategy is withdrawing medications from the automated dispensing cabinet outside of normal working hours, when colleagues or supervisors are less likely to be watching.

Manual audits are no match

For any hope of thwarting diversion and the inventive ways in which it occurs, healthcare organizations must reexamine their continued reliance on manual or otherwise outdated auditing processes. As previously stated, the average hospital generates 60 million auditable events per month, it is simply not possible for staff to manually audit any more than a tiny fraction of these events. 

In the absence of advanced tools, detecting activity that individuals go to great lengths to hide is like finding a needle in a haystack. Compliance teams have to spend countless hours sifting through disparate, delayed, retrospective reports, searching for unusual patterns. This inefficient approach allows diverters to stay several steps ahead. 

Sadly, the longer diversion goes unchecked because of inefficient, incomplete, manual auditing processes, the greater the potential harm to patients, diverters, their colleagues, and organizations as a whole.

Prevention via visibility

To drastically shorten the time from a diversion incident to its detection and remediation, Protenus Drug Diversion Surveillance uses automation and artificial intelligence fueled by several underlying data feeds. Those feeds include: 

  • ADC logs
  • EHR clinical notes
  • Medication Administration Records
  • Human resources
  • Time and attendance

The Protenus platform's ability to pull information from any time and attendance system is a particularly important leap forward for proactive-minded compliance teams.

By automatically analyzing time and attendance data as it relates to the employee's medication use activities and other transactions, Protenus helps hospitals effectively address a known red flag for diversion: medication dispensing, cancelation, return, or waste transactions that occur outside of identified working hours. 

Equipped with this advanced functionality, hospitals are able to accomplish much more with less effort and time. Compliance teams positioned to audit 100 percent of transactions can take proactive steps toward preventing diversion, rather than doing damage control after the fact. In this way, the multiple data sources that make up the foundation for Protenus Drug Diversion Surveillance — including time and attendance systems — are critical to the mission of keeping patients, healthcare workers and your organization safe. 

Reactive approaches to drug diversion put patients and employees in harm's way. Contact us to schedule a demo of Protenus Drug Diversion Surveillance, which helps organizations come out ahead.

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