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Last Updated on: 17th October 2023, 10:57 pm
Hey there fellow pharmacists! Dealing with drug diversion and opioid investigations can be scary and stressful. As healthcare providers, we want to do the right thing and follow the rules – but sometimes the rules seem unclear, or the investigators seem intimidating. I totally get it! I’ve been there too. But don’t worry, we’ll get through this together. I wrote this article to help explain what to expect, and how to handle drug diversion and opioid investigations smoothly. Let’s break it down step-by-step so you feel prepared.
Drug diversion is when prescription drugs are transferred from their intended legal purpose into illegal hands or uses. Some examples are:
Opioid painkillers like oxycodone are commonly diverted drugs. When this happens, the diverted drugs can be misused, causing addiction and overdoses. So drug diversion is taken very seriously by law enforcement and healthcare regulators.
Investigators usually start looking into a pharmacy or pharmacist when data analysis shows potential “red flags” for diversion. Some common red flags are:
If investigators see these patterns, they may open a case to dig deeper. The goal is to determine if diversion is happening, and if the pharmacy or pharmacist was knowingly enabling it.
The investigators will collect information to build their case. Here are some things you may be asked to provide or expect:
They will review all this information to determine if diversion occurred, and if you as the pharmacist should have detected and prevented it. If they find significant problems, you could face disciplinary actions like license suspension or revocation.
I know it’s intimidating, but the best thing is to stay calm and cooperative. Getting defensive or uncooperative will just escalate tensions. Here are some tips:
Basically, you want to demonstrate that you have nothing to hide and are willing to help get to the bottom of the situation. That gives you the high ground!
The best defense is a good offense, as they say. Here are some proactive ways you can prevent and detect diversion:
Documenting that you have solid policies and procedures in place goes a long way if you ever end up under investigation.
There are a few laws that give pharmacists some cover in ambiguous situations:
Relying on these laws and policies can help shield you from accusations of enabling diversion. Make sure to document any refused scripts or PMP checks!
Hopefully following the best practices above will keep you off the radar of investigators. But if you do end up getting disciplined, here are some options:
Don’t panic if you receive discipline – it’s not necessarily the end of your career. Take responsibility and demonstrate you are addressing any problem areas.
Whew, that was a lot of information! The main takeaways are:
Preparation is power when it comes to drug diversion and opioid investigations. So read up on the laws and best practices so you’re ready. And reach out to colleagues who have dealt with this before – we’re stronger when we support each other. You’ve got this!
Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions. I’m always happy to help fellow pharmacists understand this complicated stuff. We’re all in this together.
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