The Opioid Crisis in Hospitals – What You May Not Know

The Opioid Crisis in Hospitals – What You May Not Know

Posted On Apr 02, 2018 02:20 AM

It’s no secret that the opioid crisis has taken hold across the country. We continually see news reports and stories that highlight its serious repercussions. Earlier this summer, the federal government even went so far as to declare this crisis a national emergency.

Headlines addressing this crisis on a national scale mostly shed light on the problems outside of the hospital—namely what happens after a patient receives a prescription for an opioid and becomes addicted.

What many neglect to report on is the prevalence of addiction that occurs within a health system’s own ecosystem. In recent years, healthcare providers suffering from opioid addictions have created countless patient safety issues, in some instances, even spreading potentially fatal blood-borne illnesses like Hepatitis C.

The Crisis in Hospitals

According to the Mayo Clinic, up to 15 percent of healthcare workers have addictions to drugs or alcohol, compared to 8 percent of the general population. Attributed to many factors, this alarmingly high number may result from stressful work environments and relatively easy, more regular access to controlled substances. Many healthcare workers develop and feed their addictions through drug diversion—the transfer of any legally prescribed, controlled substance from the individual for whom it was prescribed to another person for any illicit use—which threatens patient safety.