Outbreak Report: Patients Harmed after Healthcare Providers Steal Patients’ DrugsCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent this bulletin at 06/02/2014 02:51 PM EDT
When prescription medicines are stolen or used illegally, it is called drug diversion. One aspect of drug diversion that is not well recognized involves healthcare providers who steal controlled substances for their personal use.
A new Mayo Clinic Proceedings report, authored by CDC experts, details outbreaks that have occurred as a result of healthcare providers stealing or tampering with their patients’ medications. These outbreaks revealed gaps in prevention, detection, and response to drug diversion.
Patient harm stemming from diverting injectable drugs can include patients not obtaining adequate pain management, exposure to substandard care from an impaired provider, and exposure to life-threatening infections.
To prevent diversion, healthcare facilities should enforce strong narcotics security measures and maintain active monitoring systems. Appropriate response when diversion is suspected or identified includes prompt reporting to enforcement agencies and assessment of harm to patients, including assessment of possible infection risks.
- View Medscape’s CDC Expert Commentary on drug diversion.
- CDC’s Safe Healthcare Blog will feature a series on drug diversion.
- CDC has more resources to help healthcare providers ensure every medical injection is safe.