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What is Narcotic Diversion?

Prescription Drug Diversion: Consequences and Prevention

Prescription drugs that medical professionals, executives, and staff members allow to fall into the hands of unauthorized users can create severe penalties for failure to prevent diverting narcotics. As a form of prescription drug fraud, narcotic drug diversion ranks high on the federal government’s list of enforcement priorities.

Understanding the Consequences

Penalties may require exorbitant fines in the thousands of dollars and many years in prison. The Department of Justice (DOJ) cites providing a medication prescription to anyone other than the intended patient as a diversion of narcotics. The theft of drugs from secure locations registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as medical facilities can create an offense. In addition, forging a prescription or writing a fraudulent one violates federal law. The physical dependence on addictive substances and the potential for financial gain make the demand for drugs high. Not surprisingly, it increases the likelihood of narcotic drug diversion.

Identifying Indications of Diversion

Medical practices and health care facilities run a greater risk of narcotic drug diversion than other establishments, and visible signs may provide alerts to a problem. For example, patients who complain of inadequate pain relief, discrepancies in inventory count, and missing prescription pads may indicate a need for vigilance. Other indicators of potential problems may include reluctance by patients to report medical history. Faking symptoms to obtain access to drugs may raise concerns. Further, employees who have a dependence on drugs may demonstrate behavior patterns such as changes in job performance, attendance issues, and isolation from others.

Reducing Risk Exposure

Successful narcotic drug diversion prevention includes physical control of drugs, a training program for staff, treatment protocol, and policies that discourage negligence. In addition, prompt action can safeguard your business against consequences that may include health care fraud investigations, audits, inspections, and subpoenas.

George FernandezGeorge Fernandez
14:16 30 Apr 24
Excellent 10 out of 10, Helped resolve my case. Jeremy explained everything and made everything easy to understand.
21:33 24 Apr 24
If you are looking for a lawyer that listens, is aggressive where needed, and holds his word above all else, Todd is the best pick. I had hired multiple attorneys prior to hiring the Spodek Group for a white collar case. The first thing that stood out to me was the cost, as anyone going through the process and dealing with the system, money was tight at that time - especially after hiring and firing multiple lawyers. The cost was not as high as others which was definitely a plus. Todd's intake process was also unlike other attorneys. He took the time to actually listen. He cared. He was trying to put himself in my shoes while I was explaining the situation to him and he really took the time to understand the whole situation. Other lawyers will give you 15 mins and send you a retainer agreement. Not Todd, I think he spent almost two hours with me as I was explaining everything.Not only was he great during the onboarding process, he was supportive and very informative through the entire plea process and eventually sentencing. After hiring him, I asked if I should hire a prison consultant, he told me to save my money as he would do everything they would. He was right and held up to his word. Later on I would hear from others that went with the prison consultants that they were a waste of money - I am glad I listened to Todd!When it came time for sentencing, two days prior to sentencing, the prosecutor tried increasing my proposed prison time by almost double - apparently a normal move. Todd and his team worked with me non-stop through the weekend prior to sentencing to ensure that I was not given additional prison time. Again, he took the time to listen and came up with a strategy to explain the case with great detail.Unfortunately, I did plead guilty as that was my best option. Todd and his whole team wrote up nearly 300 pages of a summary of what happened and why I should not be given prison time. If I breakdown the amount I spent with Todd versus the amount of work that I saw being done, I am shocked I was not charged four times as much. The other benefit was, a lot of criminal defense lawyers were just a single attorney with a paralegal or two. Todd had a team of people that I dealt with (5-7 people that I interacted with), but he was ALWAYS accessible. It would never take him more than an hour to reply unless he was in court.I was sentenced to prison and I was emotionally distraught. Todd and his team did whatever they could even after sentencing to make sure I was alright. He personally stayed in touch with my family to ensure I was doing alright and offered support to them. Most lawyers would consider the job complete at sentencing, not Todd.After prison, Todd still spent time with me to make sure I was on the right track and avoiding any potential risks in the future. He has also been giving advice on how to navigate probation etc and has not been looking at the clock for billing.Although I wish I had never been arrested in the first place, I am glad I had Todd and his team in my corner. Without them I likely would have had to spend a lot more time in prison than I did.Thank you, Todd, and the entire Spodek Law team, for helping turn what was a nightmare into a manageable situation!
Yelva Saint-PreuxYelva Saint-Preux
19:26 19 Apr 24
I am immensely grateful to the entire team at Spodek Law Group for their unwavering dedication and exceptional expertise throughout my case. From our initial consultation to the final resolution, their professionalism and tireless advocacy made all the difference. Their strategic approach and attention to detail instilled confidence in me every step of the way.Thanks to their hard work and commitment, we achieved a truly favorable outcome that exceeded my expectations. Not only did they navigate the complexities of my case with precision, but they also provided invaluable support and guidance during what was undoubtedly a challenging time. I cannot recommend Spodek Law Group highly enough, especially attorneys Todd Spodek and Claire Banks; they are beacons of excellence in the legal profession.YSP.
Katherine SunKatherine Sun
18:08 18 Apr 24
my lawyer is Alex Zhik. Efficient, patient and professional
Nun yaNun ya
17:48 18 Apr 24
Todd, Ralph and Alex are amazing. Helped my husband get from a double digit number with multiple charges to a single digit, by the time I blink he will be out. They very professional and help with all your needs. They dealt with my anxiety and worry very well and they understand that your family member needs to get home as soon as possible.
Keisha ParrisKeisha Parris
20:45 15 Mar 24
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko BeautyTaïko Beauty
16:26 15 Mar 24
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence.Thank you team!
K MarK Mar
01:37 25 Jan 24
I recently had Spodek Law Group represent me for a legal matter in NYC and I am thoroughly impressed with their services.Alex Zhik secured the best possible outcome for my case.It was a seamless journey from the initial consultation to the resolution of my legal matter. From the moment I spoke to Todd about my case, his enthusiasm to help was evident, setting a positive tone for the entire experience. The efficiency and professionalism displayed by the team is commendable.A particularly noteworthy aspect of their service is their user-friendly portal to upload your documents/evidence. This not only simplified the process, but showcases their commitment to streamline the client experience.Lastly, in an industry where legal fees can often be a concern, I found their pricing to be very reasonable, making needing legal assistance feel accessible and stress-free.I am grateful for their support and wouldn't hesitate to turn to them again in the future.

With recognition of the demand for relief from chronic pain by a significant proportion of the general population, authoritative medical organizations offer guidelines that prevent abuse. However, they also acknowledge the extensive and complex problems that face medical professionals who dispense prescriptions.

When patients receive highly addictive drugs unnecessarily, the consequences for providers can reach serious proportions. A recommended practice focuses on thorough patient care that allows doctors and nurses to ask probing questions to confirm prescription needs. Consequently, the approach may help prevent drug diversion by patients and medical staff.

Protecting Against Narcotic Diversion

Protecting prescription pads against theft and the potential for forgery requires securing them under lock and key. Further efforts that thwart misuse include not signing blank prescription forms. In addition, leaving the details of a prescription out of a patient’s chart can contribute to security that physicians and practice managers may use to improve safety. Finally, communication with local pharmacies can establish guidelines that eliminate conditions that allow drug diversion to occur.

Understanding the Seriousness of Drug Diversion

A joint task force between the DOJ and the DEA focuses on suspected health care providers who engage in narcotic drug diversion. Investigations proceed quickly, allowing little time to defend against charges. Even when the task force finds no evidence of narcotic drug diversion, your practice can experience disruptions in conducting business and delivering patient care. The earliest intervention you can provide can help mount a strategic defense that presents the facts and circumstances that represent you aggressively, accurately, and fairly.

Seeking Legal Representation

The attorneys at Spodek Law Group, P.C. offer a complimentary consultation that provides information about responding to a prescription drug fraud investigation. We have extensive experience in health care fraud law defense.

Understanding Narcotic Diversion: A Serious Offense

Narcotic diversion is considered prescription drug fraud. It occurs when someone illegally supplies a controlled substance to another party. For example, someone who works in a pharmacy may steal painkillers to sell to another individual who sells them on the street. A patient with a prescription may fill it and sell the pills to someone else. Alternately, someone may forge a prescription and have it filled.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Opioids are the most common drugs involved in diversion. These are some examples of controlled substances that are commonly abused:

  • Lomotil
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Meperidine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Methadone

There are others as well. Also, some of the drugs above are available in different formulations or names.

Is Narcotic Diversion a Serious Crime?

Narcotic diversion is a serious federal offense that comes with strict penalties. As the United States continues to see more deaths and addiction treatment costs tied to opioids, government agencies are encouraging stricter penalties for both medical establishments and patients who supply others with opioids or other narcotics. One of the reasons why they focus heavily on opioids is because of how addictive and dangerous they are.

Many states also have laws in place to punish people who supply opioids. For example, in some states, if someone supplies another person with opioids that the individual dies from, the supplier can be charged with homicide. Health care providers can face other charges in addition to diversion if people are harmed. The CDC and health departments throughout the country investigate cases of narcotic diversion and HCV, bacterial, or other infections associated with diversion. Suppliers in establishments can be prosecuted.

Addressing Risks of Narcotic Diversion

There is a growing problem of medical establishments being tied to diversion cases. Doctors, pharmacists, administrators, and others who are responsible for overseeing medication distribution must be especially vigilant and ensure that multiple safeguards are in place to address risks.

First, it is important to understand the two main reasons for diversion, which are financial gain or personal use. These are some potential signs of narcotic diversion for financial gain:

  • Missing prescription pads.
  • Inconsistent or incorrect medication counts.
  • Medication order changes.
  • Higher volume of inadequate pain relief reports in patients.
  • An unusual number of medication error reports involving narcotics.
  • Large amounts of narcotic waste reported.
  • Various discrepancies involving narcotics when a specific person is working.

Some of the above points may apply when an individual is taking medications for personal use. If a person is taking narcotics to use, these are some signs of addiction or abuse to look for:

  • Change in job performance.
  • Mood swings or major behavior changes.
  • Frequent tardiness, trips to the bathroom, or breaks.
  • Isolation from colleagues and acting withdrawn.
  • Continually making mistakes.

When anyone is taking medications from a medical establishment for financial or personal gain, the establishment can face serious repercussions. To limit liabilities and risks, it is important to review current safety measures and look for areas of improvement. For example, keeping cameras in rooms where narcotics are stored may discourage theft. Physicians should keep a close count of all prescription pads or use pads with sequential numbers. If mistakes are made while writing a prescription, the paper should be shredded and not thrown in the trash. Locking away extra prescription pads is important. Additionally, it is important to write a “0” or an allowable number of refills instead of leaving the refill space blank.

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