COVID-19 Conceals True Impact of Clinical Drug Diversion as Incidents Left Undiscovered

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The Protenus Drug Diversion Digest details a steep drop in publicly reported incidents due to healthcare's resource-constrained environment throughout 2020.

BALTIMORE – June 8, 2021 – (

Protenus, the nation’s leading healthcare compliance analytics firm, announced new research that details the effects of clinical drug diversion on healthcare organizations, providers, and patients. The ongoing pandemic was likely a contributing factor as hospital compliance professionals across the country were furloughed or reassigned to patient-care units as COVID surged, preventing close monitoring for suspicious activity. 

When comparing 2020 data to that of 2019, the number of publicly reported incidents decreased by almost 61%. This is a stark underrepresentation of what is actually occurring across the healthcare industry, as COVID-19 created tremendously stressful working conditions for healthcare professionals, which has been known to exacerbate known drivers of drug diversion and misuse. 

The research, published in the 2021 Drug Diversion Digest, is the only report of its kind to compile and analyze publicly available data on clinical drug diversion incidents involving healthcare workers. As found in the full report, at least one opioid was involved in 82% of incidents reported, with the most common including fentanyl, hydrocodone, and oxycodone.

To request the 2021 Drug Diversion Digest, please visit:

Drug diversion is the transfer of a controlled substance from a lawful to an unlawful channel of distribution or use. Examples of this include a medical technician stealing pills from a nursing home or a nurse only administering partial doses, pocketing some for themselves. In other instances, clinicians or other staff have tampered with vials or syringes that contain controlled substances for their own use, potentially exposing patients to infectious disease or failing to adequately treat their pain, a situation reported throughout 2020.  

With this information, healthcare organizations can understand what must be done to prevent diversion in their systems, while identifying and supporting members of their workforce with substance abuse disorders and protecting patients from the harm diversion can create. 

About Protenus

Protenus uses artificial intelligence to reduce risk and save resources for the nation’s leading health systems, detecting and preventing compliance violations such as breaches to patient privacy and incidents of clinical drug diversion. Compliance analytics provide healthcare leaders full insight into how health data is being used and alerts privacy, pharmacy, and compliance teams to inappropriate activity. Protenus helps our partner hospitals make decisions about how to better protect their data, their patients, and their institutions. For two consecutive years, Protenus was named one of Forbes’ Best Startup Employers and one of CBInsights Digital Health 150. Protenus was also named the 2020 KLAS Category Leader in Patient Privacy Monitoring. In 2019, Protenus was named one of The Best Places to Work in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare and one of the Best Places to Work in Baltimore by the Baltimore Business Journal and the Baltimore Sun. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter @Protenus.

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COVID-19 Conceals True Impact of Clinical Drug Diversion as Incidents Left Undiscovered