Drug diversion is a serious allegation that could lead to loss of employment, action against your nursing license, and possibly even criminal charges. If you have been accused of diverting drugs from a Pyxis or other automated medication dispensing system, it is important to get help from an experienced Florida nursing license defense attorney as soon as possible.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss how a Florida nursing license defense attorney can help protect your license and your career. Based on our years of experience helping nurses and other health care professionals defend their licenses, we know that the sooner you get good legal representation, the better your chances are for resolving the issue in your favor. However, an experienced Florida drug diversion defense attorney for nurses can help protect your rights and your career at every stage of a drug diversion case, from initial accusations to Board hearings, IPN referrals, and court trials.
Helping Nurses Following Initial Accusations of Drug Diversion
Drug diversion, generally defined as “diverting” a controlled substance from its original purpose, can occur in any health care environment where medications are dispensed. However, when a drug is pulled but does not reach its charted location or patient, nurses are often the ones accused. Colleagues, managers, and/or patients may make the accusation, and the employer is compelled to act.
If you suspect or have been notified that you have been accused of drug diversion, now is the time for you to act – cautiously and wisely, with the help of an experienced Florida nursing license defense attorney. It may seem too early for legal intervention, but decisions about how to respond to any suspicions or allegations are critical and should not be made without considering all possible ramifications.
Consulting with an experienced Florida nursing license defense attorney upon learning of drug diversion allegations can prevent a an investigation by the Department of Health from progressing to discipline against your license by the Board of Nursing.
Protecting Nurses When Responding to Investigators
If you are reported to the Department of Health for drug diversion, the Department will open an investigation into the allegation, and you will be notified that your license is under investigation for alleged violations of the Florida Nurse Practice Act. The letter will tell you to provide a copy of your curriculum vitae and to submit a response to the allegation.
At this point, it is very important to have a skilled nursing license defense attorney representing you. The investigation can proceed very quickly to the filing of a formal administrative complaint. However, if a skilled defense attorney responds to investigators on your behalf, he may be able to present a strong case to get the drug diversion allegations dismissed before the formal administrative complaint is filed. It is imperative to respond early and thoroughly because if you are successful in preventing the administrative complaint, the matter remains completely confidential. However, if the complaint is filed, the matter becomes public and can be found by anyone with internet access through the MQA provider portal.
In addition, filing your own response to a Florida Department of Health drug diversion investigation without help from an experienced Florida nursing license defense attorney can be very risky, since any statements you make can have far-reaching negative consequences. Anything and everything you say at this point can be used against you by the Department of Health’s prosecuting attorneys during a hearing and subsequently used against you in criminal charges.
Defending Nurses at Board Hearings and Administrative Hearings
If drug diversion allegations are not dismissed during the investigation, the investigator’s findings are sent to the Florida Board of Nursing to determine if a formal complaint will be issued. By having a skilled license defense attorney present the Board with a strong case right away, you improve your chances of dismissal or another favorable resolution without a formal complaint being filed.
Fighting Referrals to IPN
When the suspicion of drug diversion arises, it often leads to an assumption that the nurse has a substance abuse problem. In addition to the other aforementioned problems, you could also be faced with a referral to the Florida Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN).
Employers and the Department of Health attorneys often suggest IPN as a way to avoid licensing action, and many nurses erroneously believe that if they do not report to IPN, they will face formal licensing action. Even if your employer tells you that entering the program is the only way you can avoid discipline, it is very important to speak with an attorney who has experience defending substance abuse allegations before you enter IPN or any other program.
In many cases, IPN is not your only option. There are less intrusive, less expensive private treatment programs that can still allow you to keep your nursing license, and your attorney can help negotiate for these options. On the other hand, if you and your lawyer believe Florida IPN is the best program for you, he can possibly help negotiate an agreement that is less restrictive and less expensive than standard Florida IPN monitoring agreements.
Defending Nurses in Court
Allegations of drug diversion can lead to criminal charges if state or federal authorities are contacted by state licensing investigators or prosecutors. The DEA Office of Diversion Control, Florida Drug Enforcement Strike Force, and/or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement could become involved in the case, and depending on the specific circumstances, you could be charged in state or federal court.
Hopefully, the drug diversion allegations are resolved favorably before criminal charges are filed. However, if you do face criminal charges, you must have a Florida defense attorney who is experienced in health care law, nursing license defense, and both state and federal criminal law defending you and fighting for your rights.
For high-powered, successful defense at every stage of a drug diversion case, contact Attorney Jonathan Rose at 407-894-4555 or submit the “Tell Us What Happened” form on our website. He will put his years of experiencing defending nurses to work fighting aggressively to protect your reputation, assets, career and future.