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Institutional diversion: A well-kept secret

John J. Burke ( is President and Co-founder of International Health Facility Diversion Association in Bethel, OH.

The incidence of healthcare facility drug diversion in the United States has long been a fundamental problem that has not been properly addressed over the past decades, although there appears to be some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel on this critical issue. At the heart of the issue has been the reluctance by healthcare facilities to properly report these crimes.

First, I want to make sure that I define what I mean when I say drug diversion. There are multi-paragraph explanations on the definition, but I have always chosen to confine myself to a simple explanation: Any criminal act involving a prescription drug.

A wide range of criminal offenses fall into this category; however, this article will focus on the typical crimes that are committed when a healthcare professional illegally secures medication for their own use, meaning medication ordered for a patient that the healthcare professional takes out of the legal path for their own use. Virtually all these offenses are due to self-addiction, and only in very rare instances would these drugs be procured for resale.

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