Drug diversion, or in layman’s terms, theft, is an ongoing problem for hospital pharmacies, one that is growing. It has been called a hidden epidemic. Almost half of hospital pharmacies report being the victim of drug theft during the past year.
Hospitals are attempting to take a more aggressive approach to the problem. Here are the issues they are confronting in dealing with drug diversion.
What are the problems in discovering drug theft?
The workload of hospital pharmacists and their staff makes it difficult for them to find the time to check for theft. And Covid-19 has only exacerbated the time problem. Pharmacists have been heavily involved in the vaccination effort for the pandemic, which is taking up even more of their time. Moreover, during the pandemic, they have had to order more controlled substances, the ones most often stolen, and other types of drugs to treat those with the virus.
How has handling drug theft changed?
Checking for drug theft is something that pharmacists traditionally handle. But that has been changing as other departments, such as nursing, risk management, and human resources, get more involved in the monitoring.
As hospitals adopt new technology, such as electronic health records and automatic dispensing systems, spotting theft has also shifted more to nurse managers and charge nurses.
How can spotting theft be improved?
Many healthcare professionals believe advancing technology will be able to improve the monitoring of drug theft. Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other automation will be able to more quickly and accurately spot theft.
What are the most important capabilities to look for when selecting automated systems for detecting drug theft?
The software to detect theft needs to integrate data from different electronic platforms in real-time. These platforms include electronic health records, automatic dispensing systems, and time and attendance systems.
How do you defend the cost of drug diversion software?
Such software can provide regular reports on drug data, point out deviations from normal usage, and offer a window into how drugs move through the system. It makes investigating drug usage more efficient, enabling hospitals to report problems to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency more quickly.
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