On Friday, August 19, 2016, the Colorado Hospital Association hosted a Drug Diversion Summit which was attended by SLV Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Greg McAuliffe, Human Resources Director Mandy Crockett, Conejos County Hospital Administrator Kelly Gallegos and Nursing Director Shannon Muniz. The summit hosted roundtable discussions and the sharing of best practices which focused on hiring and safe medication practices for hospitals. “Drug diversion can happen anywhere,” commented McAuliffe, “and at SLV Health, we want to create awareness, provide education to our staff and the public, as well as implement best practices to do our best to prevent this or catch this if and when it would happen in our facility.” Drug Diversion is loosely defined as the situation that can happen when a staff member steals or uses drugs for an inappropriate purpose other than patient care. The media has highlighted a recent case at Swedish Medical Center where a nurse admitted doing this for his own benefit.
“The cost is high when this happens,” commented Shannon Muniz, “because it potentially could put our patients at risk. Attending this summit helped educate me on possible ways staff could be diverting. This increased awareness not only benefits me, but the whole team at SLV Health. Unfortunately, while staff who are not diverting are busily taking care of patients, it could occur with other staff who are creatively finding ways to do this.”
Mandy Crockett spoke about how employees might not be aware that this is an offense that has to be shared when they are seeking employment elsewhere. Also, former employers of employees who violate these policies are typically resistant to sharing that information with other potential employers, even though State law protects them to do so. “Sharing this offense on an employee record is mandatory. But, knowing that there are some individuals who won’t be truthful about their conduct, hospitals must work together, report and communicate when called upon as a reference,” commented Crockett. “We wouldn’t want to hire someone where this has become habitual in their nature, so why would any employer not be willing to warn the future employer of this breech?”
Gallegos added, “Now I feel better prepared and more confident to quickly use the resources to press charges and open an investigation if/when a drug diversion is suspected. After attending this summit, I feel like we have more tools in our toolbox and are more prepared to take immediate action.” Presenting at the summit were agencies such as the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, the Denver Police Department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.