CQC advises GPs to protect their ID after rise in identity theft
The CQC has advised GP practice staff to protect their passwords and identification badges used to access controlled drugs, after a rise in identity theft.
The advice came as part of updated guidance on the safe management of controlled drugs, with the watchdog saying the rise in identity theft occured 'sometimes to fraudulently obtain controlled drugs'.
The CQC first introduced arrangements for controlled drugs to GP inspections in 2013, after it found that the number of prescriptions had increased.
In the latest guidance, the CQC said: 'Healthcare professionals should keep their personal identification badges and passwords secure and report any losses as soon as possible to enable organisations to take the necessary action.'
It explained: 'The third recommendation highlights the importance of vigilance and security for healthcare professionals and of reporting any losses of personal identification mechanisms such as badges and passwords.
'This follows a rise in personal identity theft, sometimes to fraudulently obtain controlled drugs.'
Other recommendations include asking patients about their existing prescriptions and current medicines when prescribing controlled drugs, while staff have also been asked to consider putting monitoring and auditing arrangements in place for drugs in the lower schedules.
Last year the Home Office suggested that gabapentinoids should be kept in a safe and be reclassified as class C controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act, after figures revealed 111 deaths related to pregabalin in 2016 and 59 related to gabapentin, compared with just four and eight respectively in 2012.
CQC recommendations for safe management of controlled drugs:
- Prescribers should ask patients about their existing prescriptions and current medicines when prescribing controlled drugs. Where possible, prescribers should also inform the patient’s GP to make them aware of treatment to minimise the risk of overprescribing that could lead to harm.
- Commissioners of health and care services should include the governance and reporting of concerns around controlled drugs as part of the commissioning and contracting arrangements so that these are not overlooked.
- Healthcare professionals should keep their personal identification badges and passwords secure and report any losses as soon as possible to enable organisations to take the necessary action.
- Health and care staff should consider regular monitoring and auditing arrangements for controlled drugs in the lower schedules, such as Schedules 4 and 5, to identify and take swift action on diversion.