Addicted clinicians need support from C-level execs

Many clinicians, who have easy access to the medication, abuse drugs and are addicted to opioids. But hospital leaders can help these staff members overcome their addiction by building organization-wide awareness, offering education and developing clear protocols. 

Part of the problem is that too many in the C-suite see clinician opioid addiction as a matter for lower-level staff to deal with, David Harlow, chief pharmacy officer at Martin Health System in Stuart, Florida, tells Hospitals & Health Networks.

“I think, for a lot of organizations, this is an afterthought. “It’s something they see as a drudgery that is touted by pharmacy, but really it’s an organizational imperative,” he told H&HN, but “once you start looking at how the government views this issue, it has the same gravity as the Joint Commission, as CMS, as anything else. This is a big, big deal.”   

To properly handle clinician addiction, hospitals must impose surveillance on their narcotics supplies and conduct regular audits, Kim New, a drug diversion expert, told the publication. She also suggests that hospital leaders develop formal protocols to report any drug diversion.

While prompt reporting and staff education are among the most important steps for hospital leaders to take, it’s also vital that they also show compassion, according to Bradley Hall, M.D., president of the Federation of State Physician Health Programs.