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Hospital Pharmacy Operations Report Shows Half of All Hospitals Have Experienced Drug Diversion in the Last Six Months and Points to Lack of Visibility, Tools and Resources

WASHINGTON D.C. – Kit Check, the leader in automated medication management solutions for hospitals, today announced the findings of its 2018 Hospital Pharmacy Operations Report, which surveyed pharmacy leaders affiliated with over 1,000 hospitals across the United States. The findings are published on the heels of a recent analysis of 1 million controlled substance cases which was executed utilizing Kit Check’s artificial intelligence solution for drug diversion in hospitals, Bluesight for Controlled Substances. The findings of that extensive audit uncovered discrepancies in 12% of all controlled substance cases and point to major issues related to governance and dispensing of highly addictive medications, including opioids, within hospitals. Elucidating on the audit findings, Kit Check’s hospital pharmacy survey shines light on various challenges within the hospital, including drug diversion.

According to Kit Check’s survey, 47 percent of respondents report having a confirmed diversion event in the past six months, while 80 percent say at least one has occurred in the past two years. Adding to this, more than 35 percent of respondents say that they still do not have a diversion response plan in place and 45 percent of respondents say the diversion event was identified by manual investigation efforts. A single high-profile diversion event can cause significant reputational damage for a hospital, put patients at risk, and incur substantial fines from the DEA. Most hospitals are only able to audit around five percent of controlled substance dispensing and administration pairs due to a lack of resources required for manual auditing.

“Diversion within a hospital is a tough problem to solve. Most medical professionals that decide to steal drugs are masters at covering their own tracks and few hospitals have the money, time, or staff to manually audit what generally equates to reams of data. This leads to a diversion gap that allows abusers to slip through the cracks,” said Kevin MacDonald, co-founder and CEO of Kit Check. “This is why we are working to perfect Bluesight for Controlled Substances, a real breakthrough in diversion detection and control that can identify diverters within a matter of days using AI and pattern recognition to find anomalous behaviors. We want to empower 100 percent auditing of controlled substances in hospitals through AI and automation, so that we can stop the scourge of theft that ultimately results in addiction and or threats to patient safety.”

Hospital pharmacies are responsible for stewarding the controlled substances used in their facilities, but most lack the necessary tools to manage the process or provide adequate visibility. As a result, the reality today is manual intervention, incomplete audits, and undetected diversion. In fact, nearly half (48%) of those surveyed said that their pharmacy is spending anywhere between an additional 5-20 hours per week identifying and resolving discrepancies related to controlled substances administered in the operating room and the nursing floor—valuable time that could be focused on patient care.

In addition to diversion, other challenges uncovered include:

  • Lack of Drugs Needed for Care: Over 70 percent of hospital pharmacy professionals report that 10 or more medications are currently on shortage. Every hospital reported at least one shortage and one-third have more than 20 individual drugs on their list. The survey showed that finding, purchasing and sourcing alternate medications and informing clinical staff of the lack of medication are the most time-consuming aspects of the rampant drug shortage they are facing.
  • Drug Recalls Continue to Pile On Unplanned Downtime: The average recall consumes over 10 hours of staff time per incident, and 32 percent of respondents stated 4-6 recalls impact their pharmacy each year. All of this leads to an additional 70 hours of work annually. Most pharmacies can absorb this extra work, but recalls are one of many unplanned events like drug shortages that chip away at staff time and make it harder to balance the need for both dispensing activities and clinical support.

Kit Check’s Hospital Pharmacy Operations Report respondents include a variety of medical professionals involved in hospitals’ pharmacy. Specifically, two-thirds of survey respondents had more than 10 years of pharmacy experience, and almost half had greater than 20 years. Most survey respondents (75%) were Directors of Pharmacy (DoP), while the remaining respondents comprised managers, associate directors, and senior directors, or held other senior roles.

“Given that I’ve spent almost five decades arresting drug diverters, it is not surprising to see this research pointing to such widespread challenges with controlled substance theft in hospitals,” said John Burke, president and co-founder of the International Health Facility Diversion Association (IHFDA). “That said, amidst the national opioid epidemic, and with the onus of stewardship being placed increasingly onto the shoulders of providers, drug diversion must be made a top priority in our hospitals.”

To learn more about the current state of hospital pharmacy leaders, the full Hospital Pharmacy Operations Report can be found here.

About Kit Check™
Kit Check is the leading provider of automated medication management solutions for hospital pharmacies. Our solutions blend powerful machine learning and advanced tracking technology to streamline medication inventory, workflow, and auditing processes and help hospital pharmacies cut costs, reduce risk, and get more done. To date, our more than 400 U.S. and Canadian hospital partners have tracked over 50 million medications using the Kit Check and Bluesight™ for Controlled Substances software.

Meredith Krim