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Drug Diversion Defined: Consequences for Hospitals and Other Healthcare Facilities

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections, Injection Safety

Kimberly New, JD BSN RN

Kimberly New, JD BSN RN

Guest Author: Kimberly New, JD BSN RN
President, Tennessee Chapter of the
National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators

In my last blog, I talked about how drug diversion, or theft of medication, poses a continuous threat to patient safety. In today’s blog, I’ll be discussing the many ways in which drug diversion negatively affects hospitals. It’s hard to believe, but drug diversion occurs in facilities every day.

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are required to provide care in a safe setting and protect patients from harm. Diversion by personnel in healthcare facilities not only threatens patients, but also places the facility at risk. As a result of a diversion event, the facility can incur civil and regulatory liability, become the subject of negative publicity, and even be placed in “immediate jeopardy” of being shut down.

All healthcare facilities intend to provide good care, but many do not appreciate the frequency with which diversion occurs. They trust their employees to do the right thing. It is unimaginable that an employee’s addiction would go undetected or that a diverter would harm a patient. Facilities may view events as isolated occurrences, and be unsure of what to do once diversion is discovered.

Looking forward to APIC Annual Conference, June 7-9 in Anaheim

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections

Timothy Wiemken, PhD, MPH, CIC

Timothy Wiemken, PhD, MPH, CIC

Guest Author: Timothy Wiemken, PhD, MPH, CIC
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Infectious Diseases
University of Louisville School of Medicine

The 41st Annual Conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) will definitely be the best one yet. Each year more than 2,500 clinical professionals from around the world gather for three days to learn more about infection prevention. This year, the conference is in Anaheim, CA (June 7-9).

The opening plenary sessions will be amazing, with keynote speakers Dr. Jennifer Gardy from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and Dr. Greg Poland from the Mayo Clinic. I have had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Gardy speak at IDWeek, and she is incredible. I highly suggest you follow her on Twitter at @jennifergardy. Dr. Poland (@drgregpoland) is internationally renowned for his work in vaccines. This year he will be speaking on a different topic: why healthcare professionals inhibit medical advances.

Drug Diversion Defined: A Patient Safety Threat

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections, Injection Safety

Kimberly New, JD BSN RN

Kimberly New, JD BSN RN

Guest Author: Kimberly New, JD BSN RN
President, Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators

You may have seen some recent media reports about drug diversion. Today, I want to break down the issue of drug diversion and provide some details about this serious patient safety threat.

Drug diversion, or theft of drugs, by healthcare personnel poses a continuous threat to patient safety in any healthcare setting in which controlled substances are handled. Although personnel who divert originally went into healthcare to care for patients, they have made poor choices for which they are accountable, including the impact their actions have on others. The longer a healthcare worker is allowed to steal medication, the greater the consequences become. Impaired providers can harm patients by providing sub-standard care, denying medications to patients, or exposing patients to tainted substances.

Tampering is the worst type of diversion. Commonly, the diverter removes medication from a syringe, vial, or other container and injects him- or herself with the medication. The diverter then replaces the stolen medication with saline or sterile water, or another clear medication or liquid. The “replacement liquid” is later used on the patient by an unaware provider. When tampering, the diverter may rarely use sterile technique. Ultimately the patient doesn’t receive the required medication and may be exposed to the diverter’s blood.

Outbreaks Highlight Infection Risks Associated with Drug Diversion

Categories: Injection Safety

Joseph Perz, DrPH, MA

Joseph Perz, DrPH, MA

Author: Joseph Perz, DrPH, MA
Quality Standards and Safety Team Leader
for the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

When prescription medicines are stolen or used illegally, it is called drug diversion.

Prescription opioid addiction has reached epidemic proportions and is a major driver of drug diversion. One aspect of drug diversion that is not well recognized involves healthcare personnel who steal controlled substances for their personal use. Under these circumstances, patient harm can take many forms. These include:

  • Substandard care delivered by an impaired healthcare provider,
  • Denial of essential pain medication or therapy, or
  • Risks of infection (hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, HIV, bacterial infection) if a provider tampers with injectable drugs.

Cancer Survivor Employs Simple Steps to Fight off Infection During Chemotherapy

Categories: Hand Hygiene, Healthcare-associated infections, Outpatient Care, Patients

Pamela Bryant and family

Pamela Bryant and family

Author: Pamela Bryant, MS
Health Communications Specialist, CDC

To do:

  • Biopsy
  • MRI
  • Port-a-Cath
  • Chemotherapy
  • Genetic Testing
  • Lumpectomy
  • Radiation

The above list is not exactly the type of to-do list I ever thought I’d be faced with. As you can imagine, this list of tests, screenings, procedures, and treatments was a bit overwhelming as I was diagnosed last October with a Stage II breast cancer. Not only did I learn I had triple negative breast cancer, but I had to accept that my treatment plan would definitely include chemotherapy—8 rounds to be exact—followed by surgery and radiation. My life and my family’s life was about to change during this time. So we talked and prayed, and then we prepared for this journey.

As a “CDC-er,” my work as a health communications specialist often involves taking what our team of scientists knows and putting it into easy-to-understand language for the general public. So after I learned that I had cancer and was trying to prepare myself and my family for what was to come, I read about one of chemotherapy’s most serious side effects that I had never heard of before – neutropenia. Almost instantly, my CDC background kicked in. First of all, I thought, “how do you even pronounce this word (new-tro-pee-nee-a, by the way),” and secondly, “how can I explain the seriousness of this to my family?”

Pamela Bryant, MS

Pamela Bryant, MS

Once I did a little digging, I found an excellent resource (right in my back yard!) that explained this condition to my family and me. PreventCancerInfections.org is a web site developed by CDC that provides practical steps that patients and caregivers can take to prevent infections. This website also helps explain what neutropenia is (a low white blood cell count), how and why it makes you more likely to get an infection, and what you and your family can do to help protect yourself.

Ironically, my CDC job involves communicating about basic principles of maintaining good health, such as frequent hand washing and safe food preparation. Fortunately, these practices came naturally for me, but I kicked them into high gear while I was receiving chemotherapy.

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