April 15, 2019

Physical Security and Drug Abuse: Protecting Prescription Drugs

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, more than 2 million people misused prescription opioids from 2016 to 2017. In the late 1990’s, healthcare providers began to prescribe opioids in greater numbers due to pharmaceutical companies reassurance that patients would not become addicted.

Taking prescriptions in a way not intended by a physician can lead to an addiction. An addiction can lead to robbery or internal theft by an employee. Trying to support their addiction.

Developing a solid individualized security plan begins with a security assessment of the pharmacy, hospital, physician’s office, distribution center or warehouse where drugs are dispersed or stored.

The goal is to limit access and establish strong site security measures. So, where should security start to provide complete protection for prescription medication?

Access control: Access control is the first line of defense. Creating access control protocols can limit who has access to pharmacies, cabinets or areas of a facility where desired drugs are distributed and stored. Audit trails can be retrieved from an access control system to see who entered an area in the event of a crime. Rather than using a password or pass code, biometric security measures like fingerprint readers allow for unique authentication methods that cannot be replicated or shared with outsiders. As a side note, by using biometrics internal help can be deterred in the event of a theft. Employees cannot share biometrics like they can a pass code or access card.

Video surveillance: High resolution video cameras with artificial intelligence or AI utilize computer software programs to analyze the images from video surveillance cameras in order to recognize humans, vehicles or objects. Camera software can be programmed to send alerts when foreign objects are detected or recognized in a video, such as a gun. Cameras should be installed at dispensing areas, cabinets, drug safes, entrances and exits at the mere site of them is a highly effective deterrent against theft. It is extremely important to protect the privacy of customers, by keeping cameras away from prescriptions and prescription bottles with patient and medication names.

Dual authentication: Place limitations on who has access where drugs are stored or prepared. Implement several layers of security such as dual authentication to include biometric access control along with a pass code to authenticate the employee.

Data storage: Data, such as video surveillance should be stored in locked cabinets, off site or in the cloud. If you lose access to your building, the data can be retrieved remotely with ease. Data should be encrypted when it leaves your server, on the offsite server, and when it is restored back to your server.

Drug safes and locked cabinets: Secure safes and drug cabinets either through standard lock-and-key fingerprint or access control methods.

Security system: Include a monitored alarm system, panic notification, motion detectors and door alarms. Panic buttons should be installed at the counter or staff should have the ability to use mobile devices they carry with them. Alarm codes should be kept on a need to know basis, never shared and changed frequently. Signage stating security system is in place will help deter.

Train staff to be alert: By simply greeting customers, employees can observe any unusual behavior and a thief might feel less inclined to commit a crime.

As security experts, we can provide you with the knowledge needed to increase safety and security in and around your pharmacy, hospital or facility. By developing strong site security focused on safeguarding prescription medicine, employees, drugs and assets can be protected. Call One Source Security today for a free assessment of your facility, 800-570-6478.


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