Validation of a system to detect scheduled drug diversion by anesthesia care providers

Anesth Analg. 2011 Jul;113(1):160-4. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0b013e31821c0fce. Epub 2011 Apr 25.


Background: We recently described a method to identify drug diversion in the operating room (OR) from automated drug dispensing carts by anesthesia care providers, based on a retrospective outlier analysis of atypical transactions. Such transactions included those occurring on patients after their exit from the OR and on patients whose drugs were not dispensed at the location where the case was performed. In this report, we demonstrate prospectively the utility of our methodology to detect diversion by unsuspected individuals.

Methods: Each month, all transactions involving scheduled drugs by anesthesia care providers are downloaded from the pharmacy database and matched to case records from the anesthesia information management system. The frequency of atypical transactions is determined for each provider, normalized by the number of days they worked in the OR. For individuals who are >2 SDs above the mean for the month for any of the screening queries, a manual examination of their drug transaction logs is performed. Anesthesia records for such providers are examined manually to help determine the likelihood that diversion is taking place, and evidence of escalating activity is considered. Actions taken depend on an assessment of the strength of the evidence that diversion has been occurring.

Results: Two unsuspected individuals were identified prospectively as diverting drugs. Two individuals identified as abusing drugs recreationally outside the workplace showed no evidence of drug diversion through examination of the screening reports and transaction logs, and their rehabilitation treatment teams concurred that there was a very low probability of diversion. A final individual who demonstrated suspicious activity by the screening process was determined to have been careless in documentation practices, rather than diverting.

Conclusions: The drug diversion screening methodology previously developed is valid for the prospective detection of unsuspected individuals diverting drugs from the OR. The system also provides material useful in the evaluation of possible diversion by anesthesia providers determined to be abusing drugs outside the workplace.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia / standards*
  • Anesthetics / standards
  • Drug and Narcotic Control* / methods
  • Health Personnel / standards*
  • Humans
  • Medication Systems, Hospital / standards*
  • Operating Rooms / standards*
  • Prospective Studies


  • Anesthetics