Drug Diversion Defense For NY Nurses

Drug diversion is a common problem in the healthcare industry and is the subject of aggressive government enforcement. It is also one of the most common reasons for professional discipline of nurses in New York, New Jersey, and around the country.

Particularly in New York, the Office of Professional Discipline (the OPD), registers several thousands drug diversion complaints against nurses each year. In our practice we have successfully helped scores of nurses accused of diversion of controlled substances.

At Joseph Potashnik and Associates we represent New York and New Jersey nurses accused of narcotics diversion on a daily basis. Over the years we have been able to bring numerous diversion cases to dismissal. Obviously, we can’t guarantee that your case will be dismissed, but we have many tools in our arsenal to save our clients’ licenses and career even in the most difficult cases.

What Is Drug Diversion

Drug diversion can take many forms, but in a nutshell, it is using drugs by healthcare workers for illicit purposes. Most drug diversion cases involving nurses happen in the outpatient setting and usually involve opioids. In a classical diversion scenario, nurses with drug issues find ways to steal medications for their own use. However, a nurse can also be accused of drug diversion when she administers controlled substances in violation of some rule or policy. For example, we had cases where attending physicians in very busy hospitals gave verbal orders for controlled substances, which were administered by nurses. If such an order is not later documented (because the doctor forgot to write it), the nurse could be charged with diversion.

Drug Diversion and Drug Abuse

Many nurses accused of diverting drugs do so for personal use because they have substance abuse issues. Obviously, this presents a great risk for patients, employers, and nurses involved. The licensing authorities are concerned with public safety and unless the situation is remedied, a summary license suspension will likely result. All states have instituted programs for nurses who need help. In New York, it is SPAN and in New Jersey it is RAMP. In some cases, participating in these programs could be very beneficial but sometimes caution should be required, so make sure to speak with an experience attorney before making any decisions.

How Drug Diversion Is Used For Work Place Retaliation & Other Illicit Reasons

Here is the hard truth: many of the OPD drug diversion complaints have nothing to do with drug diversion. After representing numerous nurses in New York and New Jersey, we have seen this scenario time and again workplace hostility and harassment that last for a long time, usually due to personal animosity between co-workers, which then results in a drug diversion/abuse allegation, employment termination, and a disciplinary complaint. Many of these cases are ultimately dismissed after an investigation due to lack of evidence but the damage to the accused nurse is tremendous, both mentally and financially. While there are many legitimate drug abuse and diversion cases, we recognize that things are not always are the way they look and aggressive defense strategies often pay off.

What Should A Nurse Do When Accused Of Drug Diversion Or Drug Abuse

Do not make any statements to anyone when you’re accused of diverting drugs. When confronted, our natural instinct is to immediately defend ourselves. Many nurses agree to take drug tests ¬†only to later find out that they were positive. Don’t do that. Testing positive for drugs doesn’t mean drug abuse or drug diversion, but it will give another reason to fire you and report it to the licensing authority.

Don’t rely on your union representatives. They are not attorneys and are not qualified to give you legal advice. When you are later in trouble, you will not bring your union reps with you to a disciplinary hearing, you will need a lawyer, so speak to one right away.

When summoned to a meeting with HR, do not attend before you speak with a lawyer.

Can A Nurse Lose A License Over A Drug Diversion Issue?

Absolutely. If there is solid evidence of drug diversion, a nurse in New York can face very serious consequences. This is why you need a experienced attorney to help you.

Our OPD lawyers have represented numerous nurses who were accused of drug diversion and drug abuse in New York. If you need to discuss your case with a competent nursing defense attorney, call us at any time at (212) 577 6677.