When patients visit their doctors or local hospitals in Illinois, they need to feel confident that the people there are going to provide them with a high quality of care. Drug diversion occurs when doctors, nurses or other health care professionals divert drugs intended for patients and use them for themselves. It is a growing problem across the United States, and it has a direct impact on patient care.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that theft of prescription drugs is becoming increasingly prevalent in U.S. health care settings. This is particularly true when it comes to opioid drugs.
How diversion affects patients
When doctors, nurses or other health care workers divert drugs, it often hinders the care the patients who see them receive. In some cases, drug diversion may result in a patient experiencing severe pain after not receiving adequate amounts of pain medication. In others, it may raise a patient’s risk of infection. When health care providers tamper with injectable medications, it may increase the risk of hepatitis C or other bacterial infections for the patient.
Drug diversion may, too, increase the risk of a health care worker making dosing errors. It also raises risks associated with surgical errors or other mistakes that have serious, potentially life-altering consequences for patients.
How health care providers handle drug diversion
Health care providers have a duty to track and prevent drug diversion in their practices and notify certain authorities when it occurs. They also have an obligation to assess whether the actions of the employee who diverted drugs caused possible harm to patients.
Patients who suffered harm because their health care providers diverted drugs may have grounds for a malpractice claim.