News Corner: ASHP Releases Industry Guidelines to Hamper Instances of Drug Diversion

The American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP) has answered the call for guidelines to support the creation of controlled substance diversion prevention programs. In October, the organization announced the first set of national guidelines to help healthcare organizations devise and implement strategies to prevent drug diversion at their facility. Given the amount of harm diversion can cause for providers, patients, and organizations, this announcement is a much-needed step in support of patient and workplace safety.

Research shows that as many as one in ten providers will divert drugs at some point in their career. These providers may have developed a substance abuse problem and take these medications while treating patients, which represents a high level of risk for the entire healthcare ecosystem. Organizations are beginning to recognize their role in preventing this situation, and are now addressing it as an occupational hazard through open communication about employee expectations and penalties.

To help support the development of programs that not only catch diverters, but also proactively prevent instances of diversion, ASHP encourages a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach and bringing together stakeholders from many departments, including nursing, pharmacy, and human resources. This ensures personal biases aren’t influencing diversion risk prevention or identification, and further protects patients, employees, organizations and communities.

Specific recommendations from ASHP include:

  • Developing a controlled substance diversion prevention program that complies with federal and state laws and regulations.
  • Employing rigorous monitoring and surveillance techniques into your program. Using technology, this can be done through barcode scanning, video verification and monitoring, and single dose dispensing.
  • Incorporating human resource management into the process so that employees understand the employment implications of diversion, and know how to report suspected diversion among their peers.
  • Promoting education about proper prescribing, procurement, dispensing, administration, and disposal and wasting of controlled substances. This ensures there is no ambiguity about policies, and standardizes practices across a department—making it is easier to identify outliers.

The full guidelines from ASHP can be downloaded here.

Are you interested in additional best practices and recommendations for drug diversion prevention that can be implemented in your facility? Check out our past blogs on the topic, written by industry expert Kim New and hospital leaders discussing their first-hand experiences with diversion.


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