Drug diversion occurs when health care providers divert prescription drugs intended for patients and use them themselves. This is a growing problem across Illinois and many other parts of the country, and some say it has reached “epidemic” proportions. When health care workers take prescription medications that are not for them and then work with patients, it creates serious risks and hazards for the patients they serve.
According to the Centers and Disease Control and Prevention, health care organizations have a duty to protect their patients by identifying and preventing drug diversion in their practices.
Consequences associated with drug diversion
When health care employees use prescription medications intended for someone else while on the job, the quality of care they provide suffers. If the health care worker diverts certain injectable drugs, it raises infection risks. For example, in 2018, a health care worker’s theft and use of prescription medications caused a hepatitis C outbreak that affected 12 patients.
Drug diversion also has other consequences. Providers who divert and use drugs may make errors when it comes to administering medications. They may also have problems administering the correct amount of medications, among other issues.
Measures to help prevent drug diversion
Health care organizations need to have heightened security when it comes to storing their prescription medications. This is particularly true when it comes to storing opioids. Many incidences of drug diversion are the direct result of opiate addictions. Health care providers also have an obligation to track incidences of drug diversion and report them to the proper authorities.
When patients suffer serious harm because of a health care provider’s negligent actions, they may be able to hold those providers or their employers accountable.