HELPING REDUCE RISK OF DRUG DIVERSION WITH NARCLOCK: COST EFFECTIVE NARCOTICS STORAGE WITH AUDIT TRAILS

NarcLock Press Release Photo

TEC Solutions, a New York City-based security consulting firm specializing in wireless applications, offers EMS agencies a cost-effective solution for reducing exposure to drug diversion with narcotics storage: NarcLock. Using programmable smart keys and locks, agencies can manage access to narcotics stored in lock boxes, safes, cases, vaults, and more. Detailed audit trails are stored in both the key and lock every time access is attempted, increasing accountability and decreasing the risk of drug tampering.

Unlike similar products on the market, there is no wiring or battery required for NarcLock safes so agencies do not have to worry about getting locked out of safe due to battery dying or power outage. With no wiring, NarcLock smart locks can also be retrofitted into an agency’s existing lock boxes, saving them the cost of buying new boxes; this was a big selling point for Windsor Volunteer Ambulance. “While researching for narcotics solutions we were discouraged by pricing until we came across NarcLock in a magazine ad. The system not only fit our budget, but we were able to keep our own lock boxes which was convenient,” says Windsor. As an added bonus, the wireless locks are available in 400 different versions so agencies can expand the system to secure and track access to anything from medical cabinets to office doors. Nature Coast EMS initially used system for securing narcotics but started expanding system to other applications. “NarcLock is very adaptable and easy to grow. Once the system was installed at our new facility, we expanded it to include all nine of our EMS facilities in the county,” says Nature Coast.

TEC Solutions emphasizes the importance of tailoring NarcLock to fit the security needs of each agency. The company recently started offering agencies a customized NarcLock procedure to ensure each system is used effectively. “We’ve learned that in order for a narcotics security system, or any security system for that matter to be really useful, we can’t just sell hardware and move on. We have to collaborate with an agency to build a system that fits their needs. This goes for staff as well as management. It is a must to always involve the staff in process as they’re the ones that will actually be dealing with system regularly,” says TEC Solutions.

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Drug Diversion in Agencies Continues to Be an Issue, Even among High-Ranking Personnel

Drug Diversion in Agencies Continues to Be an Issue, Even among High-Ranking Personnel

A Florida lieutenant was arrested on charges of grand theft of a controlled substance on August 26, 2016. Lt. Jason Bender of Seminole County Sheriff’s Office was accused of knowingly obtaining and using controlled substances belonging to the Office, with intent to appropriate the controlled substances to his own use.

Unfortunately, these incidents are becoming more and more common. This particular case however, shows how serious the issue is becoming as it involves a higher-ranking official within the department. The biggest takeaway from the arrest is that everyone handling or accessing narcotics within an organization must be monitored. Agencies must begin implementing strategies that hold personnel in their organizations accountable, low and high-ranking officials alike.

While there is no fool-proof strategy to prevent drug diversion, the worst thing an agency can do is be reactive. By taking a reactive stance, agencies risk the consequences associated with internal narcotics theft such as fines, investigations, civil liability, and loss of license. There are many systems out there that can help combat drug diversion; it’s just a matter of finding the one that works best for your agency.

To learn about possible solutions for your agency, click here. 

Limiting Exposure to Narcotics Theft

Limiting Exposure to Narcotics Theft

Widespread Problem 

Between January and August 2013, there were 13,885 instances of drug theft reported by hospitals, pharmacies, EMS agencies, and other health care organizations in the United
States. These 13,885 instances translated into almost 10 million individual units being stolen. A large portion of these reported incidents are categorized as “Employee Pilferage” and “Lost in Transit.”

Narcotic theft graph

Effect on Agencies

It is no secret that controlled substance diversion is a growing epidemic. It seems that every time you turn on the news you hear about narcotics theft within an EMS agency. The consistent occurrences of reported theft paired with the increased media coverage have caused the DEA to pass strict mandates on controlled substance storage. The pressure being applied by the general public has caused the DEA to hastily release mandates that incorporate vague language. This has left EMS agencies in a challenging position as they struggle to interpret and comply with new requirements. As controlled substances theft becomes a more prominent issue, the penalties EMS agencies face if they violate new requirements can be severe. Non-compliant agencies can:

  • Be limited on dispensing certain controlled substances en route to local hospitals
  • Face fines
  • Have their registration suspended
  • Be subjected to multiple investigations
  • Take a huge hit to their integrity
  • Be put under a microscope to prevent further violations

Be Proactive, Minimize Risk

With all the ramifications that are associated with violating these mandates, strong policies on safeguarding, securing and accounting for all controlled substances stored and used are an absolute must. The traditional methods no longer suffice. Implementing an effective plan or system will reduce the risk of controlled substance theft. It is important to understand that there is never going to be a foolproof strategy that will completely eliminate the threat of narcotics theft. However, this should not stop agencies from implementing a solution that minimizes risk. One effective solution is using controlled substance storage units (i.e. lockers, lock boxes) equipped with access control capabilities. These units immediately increase security and provide access monitoring. There are multiple options available that all have different benefits. When researching these possible options, consider the following factors:

  • What is my budget?
  • How secure do I want it?
  • Will it be easy for agents to use?
  • Can system scale and be easily implemented in multiple EMS vehicles?
  • Is there enough room on ambulances to install system?

On top of asking these questions, it is important to get everyone in the agency to be on board and buy into the solution. You don’t want to invest in something that isn’t going to be used properly. So when making a decision, it would not hurt to get feedback and opinions of coworkers.

Affordable Alternative

Many of the options available in today’s market are expensive and require heavy installation. Unfortunately, many EMS organizations are volunteer or simply do not have the funds available to incorporate a $15,000-$20,000 security system for controlled substances. Even lacking available funds, these agencies are still held to the same standards as for-profit EMS organizations. So they are tasked with the difficulty of finding a balance between affordability and reliability when searching for a system. Enter NarcLock. NarcLock is gaining traction within the EMS community as an affordable and secure option. It is a wireless security system that allows agencies to monitor and control access to controlled substances. The wireless feature gives EMS agencies the flexibility to implement NarcLock system in ambulances, lock boxes, containers, filing cabinets, medicine storage compartments, and other sensitive areas. Some of the benefits include:

  • Fraction of the cost of similar systems
  • Easily retrofit system using your existing lock hardware 
  • No bulky equipment, minimizing the amount of space needed to install
  • Electronic audit reports detailing access attempts to controlled substances
  • Control access by granting access to individual agents during specific schedules
  • No wiring or power needed for operation so system works during power outages

Whether or not NarcLock is the right choice, EMS agencies must plan ahead and have a strategy in place regulating how controlled substances are stored and who handles them, as well as required documentation of access activity.

 Contact us today to learn more about our wide range of narcotics storage solutions