Lynchburg and Seattle: The latest cautionary-tales

Suspected theft and internal diversion affected two operations last month adding to mounting evidence of inadequate controlled substance processes. It is becoming increasingly apparent that controlled substance diversion is an issue that demands to be addressed.

Levi Pulkkinen of SeattlePI, an investigative online newspaper, reported that “nine tampered vials (morphine) were found at Medic One stations” in Seattle and the surrounding area. In a second incident occurring in Lynchburg, VA, Eleanor Roy of the News and Advance, cited the theft of 273 vials of fentanyl. These recent events emphatically stress the need for increased controlled substance security on such a large scale that it is now painfully obvious that something beyond “safes of substantial construction” must be implemented.

It’s no secret that controlled substances play a complicated role in pre-hospital care. Acknowledged or not, a loophole in current security measures provide a potential opportunity for diversion. This potential diversion opportunity is facilitated by the inadequate tracking tools that quietly tangle the web of measures we once thought provided sufficient accountability and security.

Divergent risk does not discriminate between large, multi-branched organizations or small, “mom and pop” community operations. As illustrated by the events in Lynchburg, simply replacing a targeted narcotic with a different narcotic does little to change the divergent activity.

Once diversion is suspected, the first course of action is to review the chain of custody for that individual vial. Unfortunately, completing this process with multiple paper logs and absolutely no signature validity can prove daunting and frustrating. As in the case of Lynchburg, authorities were unable to target a suspect because they lacked a clear and accurate timeline of narcotic movement.

Divergent events regularly making headlines should provide the necessary incentive to avoid becoming the next “cautionary-tale”. Understanding and appreciating this great risk is critical to the success of all ALS capable crews and ultimately your operation. As a decision-maker in your operation and a leader in your community, you’ll do everything in your power to ensure a solid and credible name. Don’t add your company’s name to the already long list of investigated organizations.

What do you need to do to minimize risk and a secure a positive community presence?

1) Be Proactive.

Pushing it off until next year or reciting a mantra of, “it will never happen here”, will not suffice.

2) Contact Operative IQ.

Operative IQ’s Controlled Substance Tracking offers the industry’s only true cradle-to-grave record for every medication, giving you the upper hand in establishing accountability.

3) Rest Easy.

Know exactly who participated in each transaction with the certainty of biometric finger print validation, gain visibility across multiple safes, and limit access to these high risk areas.

In this age of advanced technology, your operation’s future does not have to hinge on undependable paper logs. Switch to a system that actually works to increase accountability and establish accurate record-keeping. Operative IQ’s controlled substance tracking arms you with a true cradle-to-grave view of every medication that will help put your medical director’s mind at ease.

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