by Drew Johnson
Jan 18, 2011 – With drug abuse, access matters. EMS providers often have direct access to powerful narcotics and this access, combined with a high-stress job, can lead some to find solace through chemicals. Products such as MedixSafe help prevent that from happening.
Unlike old systems of drug security — which often consist of no more than a locked cabinet — MedixSafe offers both security and accountability.
The safe — made of ten gauge powder-coated steel — requires dual access for entry, meaning one must use some combination of pin number, proximity card and fingerprint scan to open the safe. MedixSafe M1 comes with a keypad and proximity card. MedixSafe M2comes with a keypad and fingerprint scan.
Many old-style narcotic safes require only one of these — pin number or proximity card — for entry. This doesn’t work very well for obvious reasons: pin numbers can be copied and proximity cards can be stolen. MedixSafe’s dual entry system creates a much-needed extra level of security.
Each safe keeps a record of every single time someone opens it, leaving something the makers of MedixsSafe call an “audit trail” consisting of the user’s name, as well as time and date of entry. Managers periodically download the audit trail, which they can then easily check in the case of missing drugs.
This is a tremendous benefit for responders, says Glenn Heard, national sales manager for MedixSafe. “Technicians who’ve used this love it because it keeps them from being indiscriminately questioned. With this safe, you’re no longer automatically part of a lineup, unless your name is on the audit trail.”
The way things are now, if drugs go missing, everyone who came into contact with the drug storage compartment (often just a Plexiglas cabinet) gets questioned. The MedixSafe audit trail helps investigators limit their search to just those names on the audit trail.
It’s a much-needed solution to a persistent problem, according to John McGuire, a paramedic with the Jericho, New York and New York City fire departments. McGuire has been using the MedixSafe for more than 14 months and the main effect he’s seen is deterrence. “Everyone knows you can’t get into the Medixsafe without being detected,” he said.
McGuire said some departments have stopped stocking certain narcotic drugs in their ambulances because of pervasive abuse. These drugs, painkillers and tranquilizers mostly, have tremendous potential for treating patients before they arrive in hospital. Not having them in stock can be a big obstacle for responders.
“If someone ruptures their gallbladder or dislocates their shoulder, they’re going to be screaming their head off all the way to the hospital until a doctor can give them drugs,” McGuire said.