Drug diversion is the act of illegally obtaining prescription medications by a health care worker for his or her own use. This can result in several types of patient harm, according to DPH, including:
- Substandard care delivered by an impaired health care provider,
- Denial of essential pain medication or therapy, or
- Risk of infection (e.g., with hepatitis C virus or bacterial pathogens) if a provider tampers with injectable drugs. Diversion involving injectable medications or injection equipment has been linked to multiple outbreaks of bacterial and viral infections nationwide, including six outbreaks between 2004 and 2014 that collectively resulted in more than 100 infections and 30,000 potential exposures. To date, no outbreaks or infections linked to drug diversion have been reported in North Carolina.
DPH has been working with medical, law enforcement and other partners to increase awareness about drug diversion and help health care facilities prevent, detect, and respond to it drug diversion.