Accused Of Drug Diversion Or Stealing Drugs? Here’s What To DoMedical Defense
Controlled substance abuse and addiction is a devastating condition for those who suffer from it and for their loved ones. Drug diversion by nurses and other healthcare professionals is often linked to the stresses of the workplace, long shifts, fatigue, and insomnia combined with relatively easy access to controlled substances.
Thus, when healthcare professionals become involved with the diversion of controlled substances in the workplace, most employers are quick to act – sometimes too quick. If you are a Texas healthcare professional, and if you are accused of drug diversion, you must contact an experienced Dallas medical license defense attorney.
The diversion or theft of controlled substances is typically committed for personal use, to supply another user, or for financial gain. Drug diversion can happen anywhere controlled substances are stored, including clinics, pharmacies, and hospitals. In the most egregious cases, drug diversion has even included taking a pain patch directly from a patient’s body or searching through medical and hazardous wastes for drug traces and residue.
WHY IS DRUG DIVERSION SO DEVASTATING?
When a healthcare professional is involved in drug diversion, it hurts patients, employers, and colleagues. Patients may suffer pain or declining health if they do not receive the full, prescribed amount of their medication as ordered by their doctors.
It’s even been reported that some healthcare workers have injected themselves with drug injections prepared for patients, taking part of the medication and leaving only a portion for the patient. Moreover, when healthcare professionals work under the influence of controlled substances, every patient in the facility receives less care and is more at risk.
Employers often report nurses and other health care professionals for alleged drug diversion and/or a failure to document the dispensing of medications related to the use of the Pyxis system or another narcotic delivery system. The employer, typically a hospital, relies on the Pyxis printout to document the dispensing of medications. Due to a variety of errors that can happen for a variety of reasons – and especially in a setting as large as a modern hospital – the Pyxis system or MAR (medication administration record) may not always accurately reflect medications dispensed, administered, wasted, or destroyed.
IF YOU ARE ACCUSED OF DRUG DIVERSION, HOW SHOULD YOU RESPOND?
If you are a licensed healthcare professional in the state of Texas, and if your employer meets with you or threatens to report you regarding a drug diversion accusation, do not agree to contact IPN or PRN until you first consult with an experienced Dallas medical license defense attorney. Even if you did divert medication, you are entitled to a proper defense, but employer referrals to IPN (the Intervention Project for Nurses) or PRN (the Professionals Resource Network) based on false accusations can cause serious consequences for everyone involved.
If you are asked to provide a drug screen, you should understand that if you refuse, your medical license will probably be subject to a summary suspension or an emergency suspension order. An experienced licensing lawyer can help you make sure that the facts have been thoroughly reviewed and that an appropriate defense is offered on your behalf.
Often, a false accusation of drug diversion may be linked to a breakdown of hospital procedures or a computer system malfunction. Often the problem is not diversion – instead, it’s improper procedures and documentation.
If you are a medical professional in the state of Texas, and if you are accused of the diversion of controlled substances, do not write or sign any written or printed statement or document without first consulting a licensing attorney. If the police are called, do not offer any written or any verbal statement before you’re allowed to speak with an attorney. You’ve worked hard for years to obtain your license, but if you don’t respond appropriately to an accusation of drug diversion, everything you’ve worked for could quickly be lost.
The point should be made that IPN and PRN are superior programs for professionals who genuinely need help to keep a medical license. IPN and PRN provide valuable services evaluating and monitoring struggling healthcare professionals, helping them recover from their substance abuse issues, and helping them eventually return to work when they are ready and able. Nevertheless, many individuals who do not need the help end up getting referred to IPN or PRN for invalid reasons.
HOW CAN A FALSE ACCUSATION HARM YOU?
An unjustified referral can have a serious, negative, long-term impact on a professional’s medical license. When someone is falsely accused of drug diversion or some other professional misconduct, it can take a great deal of time and effort to prove that the accusation is false. Licensees who believe that they are being wrongly referred to IPN or PRN should always consult with a professional licensing attorney before agreeing to be evaluated by IPN or PRN.
IPN and PRN programs require a licensee go through a complicated process involving intake, evaluation, and monitoring. The IPN and PRN programs are lengthy and arduous, so unethical employers have been known to use IPN and PRN referrals as a retaliation tool against employees even when there is little or no reason for a referral. IPN and PRN do not investigate to determine if an employer’s referral is valid; if a referral is invalid, it’s up to you to contact a professional licensing attorney and “clear” your own name and record.
Many reasons for referral have nothing to do with substance abuse. Illegible handwriting, inaccurate documentation, missed deadlines, and absences or illness have been some of the inappropriate reasons that employers have sometimes used in the past for referral to IPN and PRN. Some licensees have also faced false accusations of drug diversion, on-the-job negligence, or other misconduct – accusations made by patients, families of patients, and workplace rivals – that result in a referral to IPN or PRN.
Everyone knows that healthcare professionals are people who work for years in the classroom and then dedicate the rest of their lives to helping others, so when legal trouble arises, the impact can often be personally catastrophic. Don’t let a false accusation – or a single bad judgment – ruin your medical career. If you are a healthcare professional who is accused of drug diversion, get the legal advice and help you need without delay.