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When Can Nurses Face Discipline for Drug Diversion?

 Posted on October 31,2023 in Nursing License Defense

Untitled---2023-10-31T120428.964.jpgNurses play a crucial role in the healthcare system, providing care and support to patients. However, like any profession, there are rules and regulations that nurses must follow. Failure to meet the accepted standards of care, unethical or unprofessional behavior, or criminal charges may result in discipline by the Illinois Board of Nursing. The use of controlled substances is one issue that may result in serious consequences for a nurse, especially if they are accused of drug diversion. In these cases, nurses can work with an attorney to determine their options for defending against discipline to their professional licenses while also addressing other related issues related to controlled substances.

What Is Drug Diversion?

Drug diversion refers to the illegal distribution or misuse of prescription drugs. This can include stealing medications from patients or healthcare facilities, using medications intended for patients for personal use, or selling prescription drugs on the black market. 

Drug diversion is taken very seriously due to its potential impact on patient safety and public health. Nurses who engage in drug diversion not only put their own careers at risk, but they also jeopardize the well-being of their patients.

The Consequences of Drug Diversion

A nurse who is suspected of drug diversion may face investigations by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). If the Board of Nursing learns about these issues, it may also perform an investigation to determine whether a nurse has behaved unprofessionally or violated the law. If a nurse is found guilty of drug diversion, they may face severe disciplinary actions, including:

  • Suspension or revocation of their nursing license

  • Loss of a DEA controlled substance registration

  • Fines and monetary penalties

  • Criminal charges

  • Possible imprisonment

The specific consequences will depend on the severity of the offense and whether a nurse has received complaints, been investigated in the past, or was previously disciplined for issues related to controlled substances or other unethical practices. The Illinois Board of Nursing has strict guidelines when it comes to disciplining nurses involved in drug diversion cases. In some cases, a nurse may be subject to a temporary suspension or a probationary period in which they receive treatment for substance abuse. In others, a nurse’s license may be permanently revoked.

Issues That Can Lead to Accusations of Drug Diversion

Nurses often have access to medication storage areas within healthcare facilities, and they may be responsible for handling controlled substances and administering drugs to patients. Some nurses may also be able to prescribe medications. Some issues that could lead a nurse to be investigated for drug diversion include:

  • Discrepancies in medication records: Nurses may be accused of altering or falsifying records in order to cover up the theft or misuse of controlled substances.

  • Unexplained wastage of medications: If a nurse consistently reports high amounts of wasted medications, this could be seen as a sign that they are diverting drugs for personal use or sale.

  • Patient complaints: Patients who experience uncontrolled pain or inadequate symptom management despite receiving prescribed medications may raise concerns about possible drug diversion by the nursing staff.

  • Suspicious behavior: Nurses who exhibit unusual behaviors such as frequent disappearances during shifts, excessive trips to the medication storage area, or sudden financial difficulties may be accused of engaging in drug diversion activities.

Nurses who receive complaints or are accused of improper behavior will need to be able to explain their actions. Doing so may require the assistance of an attorney who can provide guidance on how to respond to investigations by the Illinois Board of Nursing or the DEA and how to demonstrate that no illegal activity has occurred.

Contact Our Chicago Nursing License Defense Lawyer

If you are a nurse who is facing disciplinary action or criminal investigations related to accusations of drug diversion allegations, it is crucial to seek legal representation immediately. At The Law Offices of Joseph J. Bogdan, Inc., our experienced Illinois nurse license defense attorney can make sure your rights will be protected throughout investigations and disciplinary proceedings while advising you on the best steps to take to minimize the effects on your license and your career. Contact us at 630-310-1267 for a free consultation. 

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