Keeping control of controlled substances

Article

Every practitioner who orders, dispenses, prescribes, or administers a controlled substance must be registered with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and sometimes with a state agency that regulates such activity, says Philip Seibert, CVT, a consultant with Veterinary Practice Consultants in Calhoun, Tenn., and editor of The Veterinary Safety & Health Digest. What's more, you must keep such substances in a "securely locked, substantially constructed cabinet or safe," according to Title 21 CFR 1301.75. So what exactly does that mean?

Every practitioner who orders, dispenses, prescribes, or administers a controlled substance must be registered with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and sometimes with a state agency that regulates such activity, says Philip Seibert, CVT, a consultant with Veterinary Practice Consultants in Calhoun, Tenn., and editor of The Veterinary Safety & Health Digest. What's more, you must keep such substances in a "securely locked, substantially constructed cabinet or safe," according to Title 21 CFR 1301.75. So what exactly does that mean?

You can rule out some storage solutions because they can be easily picked up and removed, says Seibert. For example, you don't want to use fire safes or portable lock boxes, unless they're securely affixed to an immovable object such as a cabinet or wall or locked inside an immovable safe or cabinet when not in use. Lightweight filing cabinets are no good either. Here are some guidelines you should abide by when using a cabinet or drawer for controlled drug storage, Seibert says:

• It must be sturdy enough to be a reasonable deterrent.

• The hinges should be internal to the door or at least a style that can't be easily removed.

• All sides of the cabinet and drawer must be enclosed so that access can't be gained by removing the drawer above or opening the cabinet to the side of the locked one.

When it comes to locks, Seibert says a combination-style lock is a better choice than one that uses a key. "You should change the combination on a regular basis and when someone with knowledge of the combination leaves," he says. If you chose to use a key, then be careful about who has access to it. A "hidden" key that everyone knows about isn't considered "controlled."

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