Detecting and Responding to Drug Diversion

This is the second in a series of two articles on institutional drug diversion. The first article appeared in the June, 2015 issue of PP&P.

“Detecting drug diversion within an institution is a challenging task that requires creativity and collaboration between multiple departments, particularly pharmacy and nursing. Diverters are invested in concealing their activity. Aware that the institution is attempting to discover and thwart their actions, their focus is on outwitting surveillance in order to feed their increasing need for the diverted drugs. Detection should rely on the use of analytics and should include rec- ognition of patterns in the transaction history beyond what is included in statistical outlier reports. Ultimately, when confronting a suspected diverter, the investigator should possess information the diverter is confident will go undiscovered, and the response to diversion should be swift, consistent, and ever-focused on the safety of patients, the diverter, and the community at large.”

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Detecting and Responding to Drug Diversion

One Response to “Detecting and Responding to Drug Diversion”

  1. Julia Benson says:

    I am a former oncology RN. I was a nurse long before the development of safety devices to help move and transfer patients. As a result, I injured my back many years ago and suffered from chronic lower back pain. In order to function, I took prescribed pain medications which I ultimately became addicted to. Out of desperation and fear of disclosing my addiction, last year I diverted a narcotic from a patient’s PCA machine. I confessed this to my employer and sought help. The outcome was 50 days in jail, a felony conviction, loss of my nursing license and 5 years felony probation. Prior to this event, I had never had so much as a traffic ticket. I was the poster child of nursing, a seasoned oncology nurse who had practiced for over 12 years and touched thousands of lives. I was a charge nurse and a preceptor to new nurses. No one, myself included, ever saw this coming. Nursing drug diversion is an unspoken epidemic problem in the healthcare facility. It caused me to lose everything. However, I have to believe there is a reason why this tragedy befell my life. I have started a journey blog,, to chronicle my journey and hopefully help others. I am also offering my experience in anyway I can to help those advocating for drug diversion awareness and policy reform. Perhaps getting an inside look at how easy it is for this to occur undetected can help policy makers create functional changes in the healthcare community. Thank you for all you are doing for this pervasive issue.

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