It behooves every hospital corpsman to thoroughly understand the responsibility concerning the custody and handling of controlled substances and other drugs and to be familiar with the regulations and laws pertaining to them.
Although MANMED, chapter 21, specifically assigns custodial responsibility for controlled substances, alcohol, and dangerous drugs to a commissioned officer and more specific control to the Nursing Service, you, as a hospital corpsman, are held responsible for:
1. All controlled substances and other drugs entrusted to you.
2. Their proper administration: the right drug at the right time to the right patient in the right way.
3. Their proper security. All controlled substances and other drugs are to be kept under lock and key. Neither keys nor drugs are ever entrusted to a patient.
Hospital Corps personnel are held accountable for all quantities of drugs entrusted to them. Exercise great care to prevent the loss or unauthorized use of drugs. No drug will be administered without proper authority. In addition, U.S. Navy Regulations distinctly forbids the introduction, possession, use, sale, or other transfer of marijuana, narcotic substances, or other controlled substances.
Although all drugs are to be treated with respect, certain groups require special handling and security measures. Controlled substances are those drugs listed in the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, and alcohol. Schedules of controlled substances are established by this act. Products may migrate between schedules and new products may be added. These changes will be promulgated by the Navy Materiel Support Command in the Medical and Dental Materiel Bulletin.
Controlled drugs are controlled substances, plus any additional drug product designated for control by an appropriate military authority.
Accountable controlled substances and drugs are all items listed on schedules I, II, narcotic schedule III medications, non-narcotic schedule III medications, schedule IV and V, or other legend drugs that appropriate authority in the chain of command deem necessary for accountability procedures. The schedules of drugs will be discussed later.
Poisonous drugs, chemicals, and similar substances are classified as dangerous drugs. Drugs of a powerful nature that may be mistaken for other drugs because of their appearance will be kept in containers of distinctive color, size, or shape in a special section wherever drugs are stored. In addition, the following specific safeguards will be enforced:
1. All dangerous poisons are to be indicated by appropriate poison labels.
2. Caustic acids such as glacial acetic, sulfuric, nitric, concentrated hydrochloric, or oxalic acids will be stored in appropriate containers and not issued to wards or outpatients.
3. Methyl alcohol (METHANOL) (for use by medical activities) will be accounted for and issued by the supply division in the same manner as other controlled substances. Methanol will not be stored, used, or dispensed by the pharmacy, ward, or outpatient treatment facility.
For all intents and purposes, MANMED, chapter 21, directs precise measures to be taken to ensure the proper control and custody of controlled substances, controlled drugs, and accountable controlled substances and drugs. The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Controlled Act of 1970 established five schedules dependent upon a drugs potential for abuse, medical usefulness, and degree of dependency, if abused. The following schedules are provided:
1. Schedule I substancesMaximum abuse potential with little or no accepted medical usefulness (i.e., heroin, marijuana, LSD).
2. Schedule II substances-High abuse potential and accepted medical usefulness; abuse leads to severe psychological or physical dependence (i.e., morphine, meperidine, amphetamines, pentobarbital). Prescriptions for any of these substances MAY NOT be refilled.