Reminded of my Passion

I am one of those people who was fortunate to find a career they loved. I have enjoyed every facet of pharmacy I have worked in over the years. I have found; however, a couple specific areas that I am more passionate about. One of those areas is drug diversion monitoring. It was not an area I gave much thought to for the first 20 years of my career and not an area I jumped into intentionally. I took over the controlled substance monitoring duties because the previous pharmacist was retiring, no one else wanted to do it (I suspect based on the you poor thing looks I got from co-workers), and most importantly, it gave me flexibility in my schedule that I needed at the time. It was not a job I took because I was excited. It was a position I was given because there was a mutual need on the part of both my Director and me. I grew to love it.

I was reminded recently that not everyone shares my passion. This should be obvious, but along with my passion comes the realization that drug diversion detection is important because drug diversion exists and is a real safety matter. I am amazed as I continue to encounter people that don’t see diversion detection as an urgent task. It’s easy enough to think diversion does not exist, but even when given glimpses of a potential problem they still have no sense of urgency to follow up. The lack of urgency tells me two things: they either don’t think diversion is a true problem, or they don’t see the extent of the problem that exists today where roughly 10% of the healthcare providers within the hospital are diverting. Perhaps, they don’t understand how to detect the diversion, or they are too overwhelmed so would rather do the ostrich thing (keep their head in the sand). There may be other reasons, and I would like to hear from you if you have insight.

Pharmacist diverting drugs

Whatever the reason, if you don’t have the passion or urgency, bring someone on board who does. Even if your facility has invested in diversion detection software, someone needs to oversee the interpretation of the data and the follow through. This may mean bringing a consultant on board to oversee or to train others in what to look for and how to respond appropriately. It is important to your staff, your patients, and your hospital’s finances as well as reputation that you are aware and respond appropriately.

Terri Vidals
Terri Vidals

Terri has been a pharmacist for over 30 years and is a drug diversion mitigation and monitoring subject matter expert. Her years of experience in various roles within hospital pharmacy have given her real-world insight into risk, compliance, and regulatory requirements, as well as best practices for medication and patient safety.

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