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|New Report Sheds Light on Health Care's 'Hidden' Epidemic - Hospital Drug Diversion - and its Role in the Opioid Crisis|
Hospital drug diversion, when a health care worker "diverts" opiates or other controlled substances away from patients for personal use or sale, remains a significant challenge that is largely underdiscussed. Left undetected, diversion can lead to patient safety issues, harm to the diverter, and significant risk for the organization.
The report revealed a number of key factors that contribute to drug diversion:
- Denial of the problem in their own hospitals – Executives and providers (nurses, pharmacists and anesthesiologists) may be in denial about the diversion problem in their own facilities. The majority of providers surveyed (85%) were concerned about drug diversion in U.S hospitals, but only 20% believe diversion is cause for concern where they work. Despite this, half of respondents report they have observed suspicious activity in their hospitals that may have been evidence of diversion.
- Detection technology is critical – Health care professionals believe the tools they are using to detect diversion are only somewhat effective and expressed the need for improved real-time detection tools to identify diverters without generating false positives. Specifically, 59% of executives want more accurate data to reduce false positives; 54% would like artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning technologies and advanced analytics; and, 53% would like to see mandatory diversion training. Hospital executives and providers believe that, if given the appropriate resources, diversion can be significantly mitigated.
- Stressful work environment – Both executives and providers believe hospitals are stressful work environments, which may be a contributing factor that can make health care providers vulnerable to substance misuse. In fact, 78% of providers have known a peer who seemed stressed "to the breaking point."
"This report clearly shows how difficult the issue of drug diversion is to detect, as well as the challenges hospitals and health systems face with tracking and managing cases of diversion within their own facilities," said
The report — Health Care's Hidden Epidemic: A Call to Action on Hospital Drug Diversion — is based on findings from an independent survey of 651 health care executives and providers commissioned by the
The report also includes additional data and personal insights from clinical thought leaders to highlight barriers and solutions and bring context to the raw data. An included resource guide focuses more narrowly on ways to support hospitals as they address this problem – with guidance such as implementing machine learning and other technologies, and improving diversion education and training. The overall goal of the report is to foster a national conversation on the best ways to address this silent crisis.
The national opioid epidemic has reached unprecedented heights, with Americans now more likely to die from opioid overdose than in a car accident — nearly 200 people a day on average, according to a 2019 analysis by the
"This report is an opportunity to encourage more robust discussion about diversion and how we can prevent it, detect it and help the hospital employees who are affected by it," said
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1Odds of Dying – Data Details. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/all-injuries/preventable-death-overview/odds-of-dying/data-details; Accessed
2Baldisserri MR. Impaired healthcare professional. Crit Care Med. 2007;35(suppl):S106-16.
Monique N. Dolecki
BD Public Relations
BD Investor Relations
SOURCE BD (