Survey Highlights Pervasive Drug Diversion Problem in U.S. Hospitals

By Jay Kumar

A new survey of healthcare professionals found that most of them agree that drug diversion is a problem in U.S. hospitals, but nearly half of those facilities don’t have programs in place to detect diversion.

Released by cloud-based software maker Invistics and conducted by Porter Research, the survey found that 86% surveyed have met or know someone who has diverted drugs, with another 43% indicating their facility could be at risk of fines, bad publicity, lawsuits, or overdoses because of past or potential drug diversion cases.

“Despite the awareness of the issue, drug diversion is notoriously difficult to detect,” said Tom Knight, CEO of Invistics. “It’s exciting to see that healthcare executives who want to create stronger drug diversion programs recognize that emerging technologies like advanced analytics and machine learning can help them achieve more accurate, timely results.”

Other findings of the survey include:

  • Nine in ten surveyed say they believe their facility’s drug diversion program is the same or even better than other organizations, and two out of three are confident or very confident that their drug diversion program successfully identifies employees that divert drugs; yet, 70% of participants said they believe most diversion incidents in the U.S. go undetected.
  • When asked to rate their confidence levels on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being very confident), slightly less than half (47%) said they are very confident that the drug diversion program at their facility meets audit requirements for DEA, Board of Pharmacy, and The Joint Commission.
  • Survey respondents are losing confidence in traditional drug diversion detection methods. In the last two years, the percentage of respondents who said ADC reports are effective or very effective at the identification and/or prevention of drug diversion dropped from 78% to 52%.
  • The survey found that healthcare professionals recognize the value of machine learning and advanced analytics solutions. Sixty-five percent say that machine learning software is an effective tool to uncover drug diversion and 84% think advanced analytics solutions are effective.

The survey was conducted in October and November 2019, with 235 healthcare professionals participating. Of that total, 138 have a diversion program at their facility. Porter Research surveyed directors of pharmacy, nursing executives, compliance executives, and drug diversion specialists.