When prescription medicines are obtained or used illegally, it is called drug diversion. Addiction to prescription narcotics called opioids has reached epidemic proportions and is a major driver of drug diversion. This webpage focuses on diversion involving healthcare providers who steal controlled substances such as opioids for their own use. This can result in several types of patient harm including:
- Substandard care delivered by an impaired healthcare provider,
- Denial of essential pain medication or therapy, or
- Risks of infection (e.g., with hepatitis C virus or bacterial pathogens) if a provider tampers with injectable drugs.
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