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Opioid Diversion by Healthcare Personnel: Expect the Unexpected

By Terrey L. Hatcher, Editorial Group Manager, Relias Media

Opioid drug diversion by healthcare workers often goes undetected or unreported. The risks include the spread of diseases and inadequate pain relief for patients.

Drug diversion is likely to occur in every facility that has controlled substances, according to drug diversion specialist Kimberly New, JD, BSN, RN. “We can’t prevent it entirely,” she notes in the most recent episode of the Rounds With Relias podcast. Therefore, healthcare leaders should be proactive in assessing the risks in their facilities, New advises.

When diversion is uncovered and a facility faces public scrutiny, other healthcare leaders pay attention. Healthcare administrators who think their site doesn’t have similar problems may not be aware of the risks occurring behind the scenes, says New, who is executive director of the International Health Facility Diversion Association.

On the plus side, more and more facilities now have designated diversion specialists to deal with the harm that can occur when healthcare workers divert opioids and other drugs, New says. These diversion specialists develop policies, educate staff, identify risk, and conduct surveillance to uncover problems.

For more on this topic and related ones, tune in and listen to the Rounds With Relias podcast, which shares research and best practices for providers. For opioid-specific CME and CE credits, check out our digital book, The Opioid Epidemic 2018: Policies, Treatments, Alternatives, which provides information on opioid use disorder and efforts to reduce overprescribing of the drugs.