The US is in the middle of an opioid overdose epidemic. Overdoses involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids, have been the cause of death of about 450,000 people from 1999 to 2018 in the country. Moreover, EMS providers and EDs have both seen a substantial growth, by nearly 33 percent from April to May of this year, in opioid overdoses since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic. This increment has affected all regions and nearly all demographic groups. From April through July 2020, Emergency Medical Service responses for opioid overdose were 22 percent higher than the same period last year, in Michigan alone.
Opiates and opioids are classified as controlled substances – Schedule II. Controlled substances are normally defined as medications that are easily abusable. They are categorized into five schedules, based on whether they have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, their relative abuse potential, and likelihood of causing dependence when abused.
According to The Federal Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, the five schedules are:
- 1. Schedule I - High abuse potential with no accepted medical use. Medications within this schedule may not be prescribed, dispensed, or administered.
- 2. Schedule II - High abuse potential with severe psychological or physical dependence; however, these medications have an accepted medical use and may be prescribed, dispensed, or administered.
- 3. Schedule III - Intermediate abuse potential (ie, less than Schedule II but more than Schedule IV medications)
- 4. Schedule IV - Abuse potential less than Schedule II but more than Schedule V medications.
- 5. Schedule V - Medications with the least potential for abuse among the controlled substances.
Substance abuse affects not only patients, but many of the medical staff as well—often tragically. As a result, it’s imperative to track the use of these drugs, with the aim of guaranteeing their appropriate and safe administration, and to prevent their potential diversion.
A way to do this effectively, correctly and rapidly is by using an innovative controlled substance tracking software. Oftentimes, the tracking and reporting in hospitals is still managed in paper which makes it almost impossible to accurately follow the history of the controlled substances because of the incomplete, inaccurate, and illegible logs.
Medical directors need to consider a software solution with the below tracking and monitoring capabilities:
- It is recommended that it is a web-based solution that uses biometric fingerprint recognition to improve reliability and speed.
- Successfully replaces paper-controlled substance logbooks. Stores the National Drug Code(NDC), expiration date, and lot number for each controlled substance.
- Allows for easy management of the receipt, movement, administration and final disposition of each individual drug. Records details of every single transaction.
- Reviews the chain of custody and transaction history for each controlled substance. Tracks narcotics boxes, expiration dates, and current inventory.
- Allows for easy audits and reporting to ensure accuracy and compliance with policies.
- Facilitates the process of being compliant with Joint Commission, CMS, the DEA, and state Boards of Pharmacy policies.
Being able to access all historical documentation of every item in the drug inventory, prevent diversion, and help you meet your goals for compliance with state regulation, provides you with complete coverage against all controlled substance challenges. This in turn means more confidence, security, and peace of mind for hospital administrators, staff, and patients.