Drug Diversion in Health Care Facilities

Pharmacy Times, January 2016 The Aging Population, Volume 82, Issue 1

Those of you who follow this column know that I have a special interest in the diversion of controlled substances within health care facilities.

Those of you who follow this column know that I have a special interest in the diversion of controlled substances within health care facilities. It started back in 1990 when I formed the Cincinnati Police Department’s Pharmaceutical Diversion Squad. We quickly learned that—in addition to doctor- shoppers, bad prescriptions, and other scams—a real drug diversion problem exists in our hospitals and long-term care nursing facilities.

Those of you who work in these facilities know the scope of the problem. In Cincinnati, we averaged a nurse arrest every week and certainly did not have all of the offenses reported to us. The reluctance of these facilities to report properly is widely known within the industry, and this practice just recently entered the national “spotlight” with the case of David Kwiatkowski at Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire, where dozens of patients contracted hepatitis C virus due to drug diversion.

I am proud to announce the founding of a brand new 501(c) nonprofit organization devoted strictly to the issue of drug diversion inside health care facilities. The new organization is the International Health Facility Diversion Association (IHFDA; ihfda.org).

Yearly membership is very reasonable and comes with many benefits. In addition to providing opportunities to attend webinars and view the latest news on this problem, IHFDA has an e-mail forum, categorized by specialty or profession, to facilitate discussion on this topic. The forum also allows networking with other professionals facing health facility diversion problems across the country.

Several months ago, this organization started by scheduling a first-of-its-kind national health care facility diversion conference, which will take place in Cincinnati, Ohio, on September 13-14, 2016. The majority of the agenda is already completed, with incredible topics and speakers who should interest every profession that deals with this issue. Take some time and visit ihfda .org to see the agenda for the national conference and consider becoming a member of IHFDA.

There are also opportunities to exhibit at the national conference and to sponsor it to help IHFDA get off the ground and functioning as quickly as possible. Kimberly New, the executive director of IHFDA, and I, its president, along with a distinguished hand-picked board of directors, want to make this organization a very professional endeavor that will fill a much-needed niche in the area of prescription drug abuse.

This long-standing problem negatively affects innocent patients and abusing health care professionals, especially when the problem is not addressed in accordance with the laws and regulations of the federal and state governments. Simply firing employees allows them to divert drugs meant for new patients and seriously delays effective rehabilitation of those employees. The emotional and financial damages are huge in these cases.

Kimberly and I also have a 1-day health care facility diversion conference set for Houston, Texas, on March 4, 2016. The program should be of great interest to nurses and pharmacists. You can register for it online at rxdiversion.com. Although Kimberly and I are organizing this conference, it is not associated with IHFDA; however, the registration fees will include a 1-year IHFDA membership.

We are very excited about IHFDA and are convinced it is the right time and climate to launch this organization. It will focus on proper reporting, which leads to compassionately dealing with offenders who are health care professionals while safeguarding patients who can become victims.

It is not too early to register for the firstever IHFDA national conference, which is being held in Cincinnati’s beautiful convention center. There are some great hotel rates and downtown is nearby. We hope to see you there!.

Cmdr Burke is a 40-year veteran of law enforcement and the past president of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators. He can be reached by e-mail at burke@rxdiversion.com or via the website www.rxdiversion.com.