April 10, 2017

How to Reduce Drug Diversion and Improve Controlled Substance Disposal

A hospital using Stericycle’s CsRx™ Controlled Substance Waste Service was featured in Pharmacy Purchasing & Products. In the article, Janice Vadas, Inpatient Pharmacy Manager, Indiana University Health North describes the importance of having a comprehensive plan for the management and disposal of controlled substances.

Importance of Proper Controlled Substance Disposal

Controlled substances, such as opioids, help patients with severe pain, but also can be highly addictive and therefore abused. Since current disposal practices are not standardized the chosen approach can leave room for diversion of these drugs by hospital staff for illicit use.
The opioid crisis in America is an epidemic according to the U.S. Health & Human Services. It is no secret that the use of controlled substances for pain management continues to increase and leads to drug diversion within facilities by healthcare workers. Pharmacies and healthcare systems are increasingly aware of the need for security measures and standardized programs to help minimize abuse and to control reputational exposure and operational costs.

How to Ensure Proper Disposal of Controlled Substances

Healthcare leaders are partnering with third-party experts like Stericycle, to keep patients safe, to prevent public relations nightmares and to comply with new regulations. These organizations desire to get ahead of managing drug diversion while minimizing exposure to vulnerabilities, such as employees diverting prescribed drugs for recreational use. Many renowned health systems across the country are stepping up to collaborate and share lessons at industry forums so health facilities can address this challenge and improve safety.
As a result of this new landscape, controlled substances are now a formal waste stream for most U.S. hospitals, and Vadas believes this will become a mandated process. In the article, Vadas explains why and how her team at Indiana University Health North made the diversion case very clear to her executive team, opening the doors to creating real processes to mitigate risk.
Read more about why Vadas created multiple layers of accountability in her hospital’s program and how she decided to choose the CsRx Service for its simplicity and security. The Stericycle container has a one-way top that keeps sharps out of controlled substance waste and prevents incidents of diversion. Additionally, the new process allows for a dedicated place to dispose of these substances rather than flushing or dumping them, thereby protecting the public water system.

Vadas highlights a final critical component to making a controlled substance program diversion-proof. While she believes the pharmacy team owns the process, for best results she knows the entire hospital team, including representatives from nursing, risk management, human resources and security, together address this real problem.  

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