Archive Opioids 2020

Who Has Access to Your Medications?

Reduce diversion risks with these drug security and disposal solutions.

Joe Paone

Joe Paone


Pamela Bevelhymer, RN, BSN, CNOR
IN GOOD HANDS Automated drug storage and dispensing cabinets ensure staff obtain only the amount of medications needed for specific cases and keep digital records of usage.

You can reduce the potential for staff diversion of opioids and patient misuse by following these steps to keep your pain medication safe and secure, from procurement straight through to disposal.

1. Regular audits

Make sure a manager — preferably someone who isn't involved in buying medications — is auditing the purchasing records of controlled drugs. "Regularly review the wholesaler account and do a line item report, looking at all drugs that were purchased and comparing them with everything that was stocked," says Kimberly New, JD, BSN, RN, founder of Diversion Specialists, a consulting firm based in Chicago, Ill. "If you don't, it's easy for a staff member to order an extra shipment of a controlled drug and take it without you ever knowing."

Also make sure separate staff members are in charge of purchasing, receiving and stocking your medication supplies, suggests Ms. New.

The careful monitoring of opioid supplies must extend into patient care areas. "One of the big issues we've seen is recovery room nurses not auditing opioid transactions," says Ms. New. "A number of cases have involved PACU nurses pulling 2 pills, but giving only 1. Nobody was auditing the actual administration records, so no one knew. The issue went unnoticed until things spiraled out of control."

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