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Does Nurse License Get Suspended for Diversion?

If you are a nurse who has been accused of drug diversion, you are probably wondering, “can my nurse license get suspended for diversion?” Your nurse license may be suspended when there is a finding (usually after a hearing) that you committed drug diversion. In order to ensure you have an adequate defense to allegations of drug diversion, you need to contact a nursing license defense attorney immediately. Your nurse license and your future earning capacity is at stake.

What is drug diversion?

Drug diversion, usually committed by medical professionals, is the misappropriation of prescription medication without legal authorization. Examples of drug diversion are a physician issuing prescriptions without medical necessity, a nurse stealing medication from patients and instead giving these patients placebos, such as water, or a nurse using false documentation to acquire medication, such as medication not actually administered to the patient but used by the nurse. Drug diversion may be committed by medical professionals for financial purposes (i.e., re-selling the medicine for gain) or for their own personal chemical dependencies.

Complaints about drug diversion

Anyone can make a complaint against a nurse for drug diversion: a patient, an employer, or a co-worker. For this reason, an allegation for drug diversion, in itself, will not result to the suspension of your license. It is only when the Office of Professional Discipline in New York finds, after hearing, that you have indeed committed drug diversion can suspension of your nurse license be imposed as a possible penalty for professional misconduct. A good nursing defense lawyer may be able to get a censure, reprimand, or stayed suspension as your penalties instead of suspension. These penalties will allow you to continue practicing and working as a nurse.

Professional Assistance Program in New York for nurses

If your reason for drug diversion is chemical dependency, someone might urge you to voluntarily surrender your license and receive treatment with the Professional Assistance Program. Do not do this. It should be considered only as a last resort. When you participate in this program, you will not be able to work because you need to immediately surrender your license. In addition, you will be subjected to strict monitoring and regulations for the next five years, which could hurt you future employment prospects.

False accusations of drug diversion

Anyone can accuse a nurse of drug diversion. Even an anonymous complaint can lead to an investigation. Most allegations of drug diversion are false. Some co-workers accuse their co-worker nurses of drug diversion without legal or factual basis, possibly because of politics in the hospital. At times, colleagues will submit an allegation of drug diversion when they see a decline in job performance, long absences, tardiness, or excessive errors in work, even when the reasons for these circumstances are not due to drug diversion.

When you have been accused of drug diversion, you need to consult with a nursing license defense attorney immediately. Even if you are innocent, do not face the investigation alone. An administrative allegation of drug diversion can lead to a criminal charge of diversion of prescription medications, which can range from a misdemeanor to a class C felony, depending on the value of the benefit:

  • Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medications in the 4th Degree – NY PL 178.10
  • Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medications in the 3rd Degree – NY PL 178.15
  • Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medications in the 2nd Degree – NY PL 178.20
  • Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medications in the 1st Degree – NY PL 178.25

Defenses to drug diversion

There can be several defenses to an accusation for drug diversion. There could be something wrong with automated medication dispensing machine. It could have been a result of improper administrative practices by the health care provider. There might be an error in the computer database or a breakdown in clinical procedures. Or it could simply be improper documentation: you forgot to document the administration of the medication. Your nursing license defense attorney will work with you in a criminal or administrative investigation of drug diversion to ensure your license is not suspended.

What to do when you are accused of drug diversion

When you have been accused of drug diversion, it is important that you consult with a nursing license defense attorney immediately. Do not attempt to navigate the investigation on your own. Do not attend the investigation without the presence of an attorney. Do not say anything that can be used against you. Sometimes, an innocent answer you give can be twisted and used against you. Your nursing license defense lawyer will know how to protect your rights.

If you are a nurse currently facing issues of drug diversion, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.