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6 Steps Hospitals Can Take to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

6 Steps Hospitals Can Take to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

Hospitals are experiencing increased scrutiny from regulatory agencies over prescription drug abuse and the potential for drug diversion from medical institutions. It is also a patient safety issue and an employee issue, along with compliance law issues. Alleviating patient pain using prescription opioids is rampant. Policies need more oversight and administrators can help reduce the risk of prescription drug abuse by helping to inform employees about opioid drug abuse and building a better workplace for employees that supports overall health and wellness.


Medical professionals who divert controlled substances pose huge threats to patients and hospitals. Professionals who work in hospitals have access, which often makes it an easy target to take a few pills here or there, but it is critical to protect staff and hospitals from liability (and personal injury) to educate and train people about the dangers of pharmaceutical addiction. Healthy diversion programs may include:

  • A review of policies in place to minimize diversion. Review and audit controlled substance data in the hospital itself. This helps in identifying gaps in the system so patients and hospital staff do not fall through the cracks due to substance abuse by employees.
  • Create standards for ordering and prescribing controlled substances. This includes maintaining a chain of custody for utilizing witnesses when disposing of controlled substances. Be aware if a person is taking larger doses for patients than prescribed or acting out of character.
  • Establish educational programming for staff on diversion. Staff need to understand the issues, risks to patients, and hospital procedures used to reduce diversion of medication. If a co-worker is suspected of having controlled substances from the hospital, it will help to train staff on what to do and ethical duties to report.
  • Place cameras in high-risk areas. This is a useful tool that can help prevent and monitor actions of staff with controlled substances inside the hospital.
  • When something goes wrong, have procedures in place. It may help to launch an investigation or to recommend people to law enforcement when controlled substances have gone missing. Theft or loss of controlled substances that are significant are required to be reported to the DEA.
  • Review staff practices to help avoid the problem on the frontline. By reducing vast numbers of opioid prescriptions, it helps to have protocols in place. For patient pain management, less focus on opioids can be helpful and, when appropriate, it may help to include anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants and alternative therapies to relieve pain so it is a multimodal approach to care.

Offering Help

When hospital staff or patients struggle with addiction, it affects society at large. It can impact hospital programs and how they function, including the ability to retain status as a high-level facility that treats patients in a positive way if word gets out there are too many internal struggles. The challenge of helping people with addiction is really about locating the best rehab and recovery facility for detox and treatment. When a person is struggling with addiction, they need to detox the substances from their body, receive medically supervised attention, and also get compassionate care that helps them traverse the negative side effects of withdrawal while staying on the recovery path. With the right help and support, a person with addiction can recover, and with it build a more positive workplace environment in hospitals, and increase patient satisfaction and overall health with their recoveries.

Serenity provides a safe, compassionate environment in which to detox and recover from addiction. Let Serenity help guide your recovery. Call us 24/7 at our toll-free number to find out how we can help you navigate recovery: 866-294-9401