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Drug Diversion Withholds Meds from Patient

Rxpert Solutions > Blogs > Drug Diversion Withholds Meds from Patient

I was recently asked by someone what I did for a living. Occasionally I expound some, and people are always fascinated when the conversation goes a bit further than me stopping at  “I am a pharmacist”. They are fascinated because they enter the world of medication safety and drug diversion monitoring with me for a few moments as I describe what I do. They are usually surprised at the thought that there is drug diversion in the hospitals and that a healthcare worker might be stealing medications. They typically assume the meds are being stolen for resale purposes, and you can see the astonished look on their faces when you tell them much of the time they are being stolen for personal use.

In this recent conversation, this person was fascinated by what I do, and then after a few minutes of conversation you could see the expression on his face change. He then proceeded to tell me the story of his mom who was a victim of an addicted nurse. It happened years ago when he was a teenager, but he remembered it vividly. She was in a hospital being worked up for cancer and in a tremendous amount of pain. She insisted that a particular nurse was not treating her pain, but at first her complaints were brushed off because she was “out of it”. She was also accused of being a drug seeker and just trying to get more pain meds. The son remembers his mom insisting she was not being medicated and writhing in pain while the family, very frustrated, did their best to advocate. This particular nurse had been with the hospital for years and was one of the “head nurses” as the son recalled. At some point someone must have believed the mom, or at least felt they should look into the matter. The plan was, according to the son, to carry on business as usual and after a 2 week time period they would draw blood levels to see if there were any pain meds in the patient’s system. The result – negative levels and therefore her complaint was valid. I hope they didn’t really wait two full weeks, but the extended period of painful agony his mother went through left an impression on him.

Pharmacists are not usually the recipient of patient complaints, so there may be little opportunities for us to advocate for the patient. If you are ever in that position, I encourage you to listen. We never want to unjustly accuse a healthcare worker of diversion, but we owe it to the patient to investigate the matter because diversion is real and they may be a victim.

Trust by verify –Ronald Reagan

Our References

Terri is absolutely phenomenal. She is an incredibly knowledgeable pharmacy resource. As the medication safety officer, the quality initiatives she implemented not only impacted the patients at our medical center but also reached into the community. Terri is a genuine professional who upholds accountability while creating community among her team members. She is a great listener to identify friction points and has actionable ideas to implement improvements.

T. Eagle. MBA, MLS(ASCP), CLS Lab Operations Manager

Terri is an expert at prospective risk identification -Failure, Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA). Terri participated in CHPSO Patient Safety Safe Tables and was part of the Hospital Quality Institute’s Regional Quality and Patient Safety Leader Network.
She is an excellent public speaker and communicates well with public and professional audiences. I look forward to her continued work in medication safety.

Regional Quality Network at HQI

Terri has done a tremendous job with the controlled substance diversion program. She has had such a positive impact and has really made the hospital a safer place.

Tri-City Medical Center
Nurse Manager

We would not be where we are with the improvements we have made with opioid prescribing if it were not for Terri driving the process.

Tri-City Emergency Medical Group
Chief Physician

In addition to understanding the ins and outs of the [controlled substance use] process completely, she is very proactive in coming to me with provider issues that she detects. She truly balances the administrative duties and the regulatory components demand with a keen sense of what my practitioners do and what their needs are on the ground. Terri is instrumental in working with my department, balancing patient care, cooperation, ability, and integrity to get the job done.

UCSD Medical Center
Chief Anesthesiologist

Terri is knowledgeable and effective in pharmacy leadership. She has the ability to be able to anticipate and prepare for the future. Her ability to utilize resources effectively in this changing environment is a strong asset. She can adapt, evolve, mentor and still never say “no” when asked to assist. She exhibits great abilities to be flexible and is a “self starter”. She has a pleasant yet effective demeanor that commands results.

Candace Fong, Pharm D
System Director of Pharmacy and Medication Safety Common Spirit Health

Terri has always impressed me as being very smart. resourceful, creative, and easy to work with. Terri’s commitment to medication safety permeated our organization, raising the awareness of this important issue throughout all levels of the institution. Terri has always been engaged, cooperative, and generous with her time.

Cary Mells, MD
Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine Tri-City Medical Center

Terri has done more for the Pharmacy in her few months as Interim Pharmacy Director than any other Director has done during my 12 years here.

Anita Kennedy, MBA
VP of Ancillary Services Methodist Hospital

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Address: 950 Boardwalk Suite 305, San Marcos, CA 92078

  • 760.705.4078
  • tvidals@rxpert.solutions