Dealing with Drug Diversion

Cheryl Clark, March 26, 2015

Leaders must first acknowledge that their organization is at risk, and then devise and implement programs to address staff who steal pharmaceuticals.

This article first appeared in the January/February 2015 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Josiah \"Sy" Johnson
Josiah "Sy" Johnson

For any executive who still thinks healthcare workers don't pilfer opioid drugs from syringes and cabinets, and would never put patients at risk, a growing number of health system leaders now beg to differ. They've seen it wreak havoc on their organizations.

From Minneapolis to Denver to Jacksonville to El Paso, hospitals have learned the hard way how devastating drug diversion can be—not just to their reputations, but to their patients and their bottom lines as well.

Thomas Sherman, MD, a gastroenterologist with a practice in Exeter, New Hampshire, has seen it firsthand five times in his 20-year career, in some cases catching coworkers—doctors and nurses—red-handed.

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