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Three Trends in Diversion Prevention, Detection, and Response from IHFDA

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the International Health Facility Diversion Association (IHFDA) Conference in St. Louis. This 2nd annual gathering brought together practitioners, vendors and experts to share best practices around preventing, detecting and responding to diversion in hospitals. For those of you who weren’t able to make the event, here are three themes that resonated throughout the conference’s presentations and discussions.

Photo by Daniel Schwen CC BY-SA 4.0

1) Diversion prevention is a multi-disciplinary exercise that extends beyond the hospital

Every hospital I spoke with or that presented talked extensively about the partnership required to deal with diversion in a hospital setting. Pharmacy, Nursing, Safety/Compliance, etc. have to tightly collaborate to create a comprehensive strategy that spans the entire lifecycle of controlled substances within the hospital. Although many people see local law enforcement, the DEA and other relevant regulatory bodies as groups to avoid when possible, hospitals with the most effective strategies also partner with these different groups to leverage their expertise and knowledge.

2) Relying solely on outlier data leaves too many gaps

While it is true that outlier analysis can be a useful tool in an overall diversion identification and prevention strategy, hospitals frequently rely almost exclusively on this retroactive approach to the detriment of other data sources and behavioral patterns . Diverters have become more sophisticated in their strategies and have learned to avoid dispense and administration patterns that place them too far outside of the norm. Comprehensive, consistent and frequent auditing combined with more sophisticated analysis of behavior patterns are required to do more than just pick off the lowest hanging fruit.

3) More help is on the way

It was very encouraging to see the number of vendors attending the event and the diversity of solutions they are bringing to market. The three main areas where vendors seem to be focusing are on analytics, physical disposal, and the validation or testing of substances. Law enforcement partners at all levels are anxious to be more effective and partner with health care facilities. Leveraging their expertise in complex investigations can make a real difference.

Gatherings such as IHFDA are a critical resource for those in pharmacy and across the hospital to share best practices with the shared goal of protecting staff, patients and the hospital from the significant costs of diversion. Have questions about how Kit Check is helping in the area of diversion prevention or additional thoughts about the recent IHFDA conference? Email me at