How Video Surveillance Can Help Combat Drug Diversion

Cameras, access control technology and proper policies and procedures will help to ensure the controlled substances at your hospital stay secure.

Be Sure to Track Your Drug Shipments

Pharmacy directors are also responsible for providing a safe route for pharmaceutical deliveries from the receiving dock to the secure pharmacy. From the moment a delivery comes off the truck, it must be logged in and accounted.

Adding video cameras to the process provides visual verification of the shipment – where it arrived, when it arrived and its actual content.

This electronic record not only helps to keep delivery drivers and employees honest, but also provides agencies like the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) with concrete evidence in case of an event rather than relying solely on eyewitness testimony.

They can see what was taken and what kind of a security risk the incident posed to people within the hospital. In the aftermath, the video can provide a teaching tool as to how the hospital can improve its security procedures and protocols.

Video Documents Drug Dispensing and Disposal

Maintaining written logs is common practice in a hospital pharmacy, but the procedure relies heavily on the integrity of those making the entries. With high-definition video oversight, an individual’s moral compass is taken out of the equation.

Many hospital pharmacies are now visually documenting all drug dispensing to verify who is picking up specific medications and to which patients they are being administered. Equally important, the video documents the return and disposal of any unused product. This not only limits the opportunity for diversion but ensures that correct protocols are being followed for the proper disposal of controlled and dangerous substances.

While heightened security in the pharmacy is certainly critical, it’s important for hospitals not to overlook security in satellite pharmacies on the floors – whether they are drug rooms or Pyxis carts. Adding video oversight in these areas provides an extra layer of protection against misuse and pilfering.

From my own experience, I’ve seen hospitals where drug rooms are secured by punch button locks where employees have written the code on the doorjamb, which became an open pass for anyone to enter.

Nowadays, a far better practice is to secure doors and Pyxis carts with access control systems that require authorized personnel to use credentialed fobs, key cards or biometric scans. Strategically placed video cameras can record any activity, creating a visual record of who entered the room or opened a Pyxis drawer and what they removed. This provides indisputable proof of culpability should any inventory go missing.

Medication Security Impacts Patient Safety

Medication security is closely linked to patient safety and the quality of care. By instituting tight security measures for all pharmaceuticals – through physical security measures such as tamper-evident locks, continuously updated credentials for access control and video surveillance oversight – hospitals can minimize drug tampering and drug diversion. This instills confidence in the physicians prescribing the medication, the staff administering it, and the patients who receive it.

Paul Baratta is the healthcare industry business development manager for Axis Communications. He has more than 26 years of law enforcement and security management experience.

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