Opioid Safety Awareness 101: Getting Back to the Basics



Type of event:


The aim of this presentation is to share how one large academic medical center undertook a novel approach to raise opioid safety awareness to enrich healthcare workers’ knowledge, augment skills, and create a best practice environment for shared learning, education, and growth. A planned 3.5-hour opioid awareness event was implemented as an intervention to boost healthcare workers’ mindfulness related to their own safety as well as that of their patients. Participants were able to engage in meaningful learning experiences about controlled substances, including opioids, by hearing workflow chain of custody presentations from frontline staff and participating in interactive learning stations. This event included best practices on opioid safety such as waste disposal management, regulatory mandates, hospital education modules/tools/resources, the pharmacy’s role in opioid safety, the use of portable communication devices to locate a waste witness, employee wellness options, nursing practice enrichment, pain management documentation, the impact of nursing informatics in the electronic health record, innovative robotic technology, and patient safety themes that appealed to health care workers and enhanced their knowledge.

Presented by Speakers

Photo of Sharron Coffie

Sharron Coffie MSN, RN, CNS

Director, Opioid Safety, Health System Quality and Operational Excellence, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas

Sharron Coffie is the Director of Opioid Safety, in the Quality and Operational Excellence department at UT Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Center, Dallas, Texas since February 2019 and has oversight of the diversion prevention and detection program. She is the co-chair of the IHFDA Policy Committee, a member of the IHFDA Education Committee and has delivered national podium presentations on diversion at IHFDA, NADDI and ANCC Magnet. She describes her work with safe handling of controlled substances as being rewarding, meaningful, and collaborative both within her team and throughout the organization.

Sharron received her BSN from St. Louis University, St. Louis, Mo. and MSN from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society.

She has held many clinical and operations positions over her 40+ years in healthcare and achieved the ANCC Board Certification as an advanced practice clinical nurse specialist in cardiology. She loved recent leadership roles such as the health system manager over all the cardiovascular clinics and 12-lead EKG at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, WI, and her time as the Ambulatory Assistant Director of Nursing at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Sharron has received several awards during her career including the DFW Great 100 Nurses, Dallas D- Magazine Excellence in Nursing, UW-Milwaukee College of Nursing 50 Distinguished Nursing Alumni, the National Association of CNSs CNS Preceptor of the Year, Milwaukee M-Magazine Healthcare Hero, and many others.

Photo of Summera Zaheer

Summera Zaheer

Senior Project Manager, Opioid Safety Team, Quality and Operational Excellence UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas

Summera currently serves as a Senior Project Manager on the Opioid Safety Team (OST) and is a member of the Controlled Substance Investigation Team (CSIT).

She joined UT Southwestern in February 2022. Since then, she has made notable contributions and impact on the OST and across the health system. She launched the Inaugural Opioid Safety Awareness Event in March 2023 which was attended by over 200 guests. Summera is leading the initiative to launch the second OSA Event in March 2024.

Summera received both her Master of Health Administration and Bachelor of Science Health Administration from Rutgers University, New Jersey. Summera is passionate about quality improvement; she is Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certified and has received her Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.