Drug Diversion, a Broken Healthcare System

Lauren Lollini is a patient safety advocate who has been integral in changing laws to keep patients safe as well as a member of the Drug Diversion Prevention Committee.
Lauren Lollini is a patient safety advocate who has been integral in changing laws to keep patients safe as well as a member of the Drug Diversion Prevention Committee.

If you are a regular member to this blog you will have heard me say these things before, so I apologize for the repetition, but it appears I may not be saying it loud enough. So I am thankful to have the support of fellow patient safety advocates, healthcare workers who understand the broken system as well as a series of talented reporters to help articulate the point.

Our healthcare system is broken, let me say that again, it is broken and not the way the majority of Americans might think after reading that statement. It isn’t about the Affordable Care Act, in fact, just the opposite. It is underneath the polished floors and inside the magnificent facilities. It is behind the scenes, what happens when most people are not watching.

It is the unreported drug diversion which happens each and every day across the entire healthcare system from large hospitals to independent nursing homes to outpatient surgical centers. And just because you cannot see it, does not mean it is not happening. In fact, a good reason you cannot see it, is because, at times, the people who do actually witness it are not reporting it.

Below, I am including a summary for a five part series being published this week in the News Leader, a newspaper out of Virginia. A huge thank you to journalist Patricia Borns for her comprehensive coverage outlining the problems which have been uncovered in the Virginia state programs and reporting deficits.

http://www.newsleader.com/story/news/local/2014/12/05/addicted-nurses-executive-summary/19943561/

And I realize no system is perfect. However, when there are examples in pockets of healthcare systems across the country which are proven to not only catch drug diversion sooner but also to help an addicted healthcare worker get the treatment they need, why are we not adapting them on a more systematic basis? How can a State be allowed to sign off on a set of procedures which continue to fail. Why does the outcome results, very low in Virginia’s case, not effect the change which is needed?

Part of the problem stems from the hospital or individual healthcare facility not taking ownership of the issue. For letting it slip under the radar, for ignoring it, for passing it off to law enforcement. And it starts from the very beginning when a healthcare worker is licensed or just being hired, why are they not background checked? Why are human resource departments not calling to verify past employment? Why are there not random (or for cause) drug tests happening? Why have we made it so difficult for a co-worker to reach out and offer a fellow employee the help they deserve?

As a member of HONOReform’s Drug Diversion Team, we are partnering with healthcare workers, lawyers and law enforcement professionals, patient safety advocates and legislators to not only start the dialogue about change but to truly make that change happen. But we need your support. We need your expertise, your experience, your networking, your voice to join our efforts.

For more information, please contact HONOReform at www.honoreform.org

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