Experts estimate that at least 10% of the general population will have a problem with dependency on drugs or alcohol at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, hospitals have learned that their nurses and tech staff are not immune to addiction and dependency issues any more than others despite their extensive medical training. Nurses, in particular, have more direct access to controlled pharmaceutical substances than almost any other medical professional.
According to Kimberly New, a medication security consultant and executive board member of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, “Nurses are the No. 1 care provider with regular access to controlled substances…We detect a lot more nurses than pharmacy staff diverting medications in inpatient settings.”
Long term care facilities are most susceptible to the problem of diversion, or theft of controlled substances by nurses. Unlike 80 percent of hospitals, medication dispensing in these facilities lacks automation. Instead, each time a nurse requires a medication for a patient, he or she typically removes it from a locked supply cabinet and manually charts the removal recording vital information such as date, time, the name of the patient, and the nurse responsible for its removal. When shifts change, the incoming nurse verifies the totals with the outgoing nurse. This process is rife with opportunity for cover up of unauthorized access to controlled substances as well as simple human error.
UCapIt, a division of Intelligent Dispensing Solutions, is developing innovative vending solutions to prevent diversion. With a medical supply vending machine like UCapIt’s lockers or their pharmaceutical vending machine that looks more like a traditional vending machine, care facilities are better able to control access and inventory of medications and supplies.
The benefits of this new generation of medical vending machine services are undeniable. Medical professionals face daily challenges of restricting access, accounting for inventory and ensuring that product doesn’t expire before it is used.
Automation can help address each of these issues, in particular with the issue of diversion and theft. Automated medical storage creates accountability by restricting access to personnel who use an authorized pin number, bar code scanner, or biometric such as a fingerprint to access the machine’s contents. Transactions are recorded automatically and available to inventory managers and nursing supervisors via the Internet. A pattern of diversion of medication by nurses quickly becomes obvious.
Diversion of pharmaceutical supplies by nurses can be addressed and prevented by secure vending automation. A pharmaceutical vending machine or medical vending machine automates transactions and provides detailed records of access.