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How digital narcotics tracking helps avoid diversion

01 Apr 2021 10:00 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

By Kate Jamison, Marketing Manager, Operative IQ

Narcotics diversion is far too common, even in public safety agencies. Narcotics diversion is the transfer of legally prescribed controlled substances from the person for whom it was prescribed to any other person for illicit use. Diversion has been recorded in every type of medical environment at every level of service, from front line to medical directors.

Narcotics diversion statistics

There is no single enforcement agency that oversees all instances of diversion so statistics can be difficult to come by.

According to statistics from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the American Nurses Association, about 10 percent of health care workers are abusing drugs. Using these statistics, if you have 10 medics, one of them is possibly abusing drugs.

Fentanyl is a commonly diverted drug, and diversions, in general, are on the rise. The Department of Veterans Affairs reported a significant increase in drug diversion incidents at 1,200 facilities from 2009 to 2015, with 272 incidents in 2009 and 2,926 in 2015.

Employee drug abuse can happen at any organization, and narcotics diversion can be extremely tough to pinpoint. The statistics reveal that only a fraction of people who divert are caught.

Impacts on first responders

Diversion can have serious consequences for the individual who diverted and the agency they diverted from. The person who diverted the medication may be subject to criminal liability, termination from employment, or loss of licensure. It is possible that the agency they diverted from could be penalized.

The agency may lose their license or face administrative penalties. Additionally, the medical director of the agency could be liable because of the use of their DEA number. The medical director could face sanctions against their license or monetary penalties from the DEA.

A digital narcotics solution

One way to mitigate diversion is to use narcotics tracking software to track “cradle to grave” movements of the narcotics throughout an agency. This type of software can track when the drug was picked up, who received it, where it is located, when and how much was administered, amount wasted, noteworthy incidents and more.

Software that identifies substances received into your agency and enables regular auditing of safes will help you keep a close eye on what you have in stock. Daily or weekly audits through a user-friendly system is more effective in alerting you to discrepancies helping you identify potential diversions. By the time you get around to a quarterly or annual audit, it may be too late.

How Operative IQ helps agencies avoid narcotics diversion

Operative IQ’s narcotics module helps organizations avoid diversion incidents by tracking the distribution, chain of custody, and location of every narcotic carefully. Every single transaction can be verified with single or dual verification from a signature, password and pin or biometrics.

Operative IQ’s narcotics module with RFID enables you to keep a continuous audit. The software connects with a fixed RFID reader in your narcotics safe to send a continuous stream of data back to the system to let you know which drugs are in the safe 100 percent of the time.

As an administrator, you have the power to create records that will help you identify any anomalies like narcotics administration or waste quantities that may fall outside of the norm. Operative IQ can be configured to mirror your existing processes but track the entire lifecycle digitally.

About the Author

Kate Jamison is the marketing manager at Operative IQ, an operations management software company. She is a graphic designer and tech marketer. She can be reached at

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