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Research Highlights Two in Five Hospitals Lack Formal Drug Diversion Programs

According to the study on drug diversion in the U.S., almost 9 in 10 healthcare professionals say they have met or know someone who has diverted drugs.

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A research study commissioned by Invistics, provider of cloud-based software systems for inventory visibility and analytics across healthcare systems and global supply chains, found that 40% of hospitals lack formal drug diversion programs.

Conducted by Porter Research, the results reveal an array of traceability and diversion problems in U.S. healthcare. Despite the fact that nearly all healthcare professionals surveyed agree that drug diversion is occurring across the country, almost half of those professionals still don’t have drug diversion detection programs.

“Drug diversion” includes drug-seeking behaviors, corrupt prescribing practices and the theft of drugs by healthcare workers. The study, which surveyed 235 healthcare professionals, says that nearly all respondents believe that drug diversion negatively impacts quality of care, adversely impacts patient safety and jeopardizes compliance, putting their organizations at risk. At the same time, almost two-thirds say they are only “somewhat confident” in the effectiveness of their organization's drug diversion program.

Cynthia Porter, CEO of Porter Research, noted that diversion is a “tricky issue” in the industry. “In comparing this year’s survey with the survey results from two years ago, we hoped to find that more progress was being made toward early detection and prevention. Unfortunately, that was not that case… Too much has stayed the same,” she said. “Of those with diversion programs, many are still not highly confident in the efficacy and efficiency of their programs.”

Other key findings included:

86% of those surveyed have met or know someone who has diverted drugs, and 43% feel their organization could be at risk from fines, bad press, lawsuits or overdoses due to past or potential drug diversion at their facility.

90% surveyed say they believe their facility’s drug diversion program is the same or even better than other organizations, and two out of three are confident or very confident that their drug diversion program successfully identifies employees that divert drugs; yet, 70% of participants said they believe most diversion incidents in the U.S. go undetected.

Looking at technologies ahead

Less than half were confident that the drug diversion program at their facility meets audit requirements for the DEA, Board of Pharmacy and Joint Commission. But while many are losing confidence in traditional detection methods, 65% and 84%, said that machine learning software and advanced analytics are effective tools in the fight, respectively.

“Despite the awareness of the issue, drug diversion is notoriously difficult to detect,” said Tom Knight, CEO of Invistics. “It’s exciting to see that healthcare executives who want to create stronger drug diversion programs recognize that emerging technologies like advanced analytics and machine learning can help them achieve more accurate, timely results.” 

Click here to view the report.


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