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10 Ways to Halt Drug Diversion by Healthcare Workers

   September 02, 2016

Just Make This Stop
The bomb dropped, in 2010. It was every hospital's worst nightmare.

That's when the clinic discovered that Steven Beumel, a drug-diverting radiology technician in its Jacksonville, FL facility, had infected five patients with hepatitis C. Beumel, who had worked for the Mayo since 1992, was later convicted and sentenced to 30 years for infecting patients.

One of the patients died.

Here's what Berge says happens at the Mayo now, and what he believes every hospital in the country should consider implementing to avoid controlled substance abusers among their workers:

1. Have a zero tolerance policy for theft of any drugs from anywhere. And have a zero tolerance policy for any worker who fails to properly witness a coworker disposing a drug that is not ultimately given to the patient.

Make sure workers know the hospital considers this so serious, that they will lose their jobs and be reported to the appropriate authorities. Emphasize that this behavior puts patients in danger.

Have a pre-employment drug screening program and an education campaign that stresses trying fentanyl or another opioid out of curiosity, even one time, is not safe. "People say I'll just try it once. But fentanyl is so profoundly addictive that's it. It's over," Berge says. "I say it's like they found the orgasm button and they can push it every day, all day long."

2. Make friends with law enforcement agencies, such as local police or U.S. Drug Enforcement officials, who can process search warrants of employees' homes and cars to help prove a case. This helps put the case on the record so prospective employers can be warned.

3. Employ a 24-hour diversion hotline for workers to report suspicious behavior. Advertise the program with a slogan such as "Save Your Co-worker's Life," which the Mayo posts on its Pyxis machines.

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