After long negotiations, we were able to convince the Department of Nursing to settle the case with a reprimand, a small fine, and eight hours of continuing education classes.
Our client, an EMT, decided to take a personal day and called off work. The employer called the EMT in the next day for a meeting with HR to discuss the unscheduled absence and for calling out of work. Although the EMT was off work that day as well, the EMT nonetheless went in to meet with HR. On the day of the meeting, the employer forced the EMT to get a urinalysis and a breathalyzer test. The EMT, not wanting to upset the employer more, agreed to be drug tested. The uranalysis result was negative, but the breathalyzer result was “non-zero,” so the employer reported the EMT to the Department of Health for “being impaired.”
While an employer can report a provider for being impaired, the Department of Health (DOH) needs to prove there is probable cause to formally charge somebody under the theory that they are impaired. Here, we argued that this case is not purview of the DOH because the EMT was not actually working as a health care provider at the time. Impairment allegations require that the DOH prove that the provider is “unable to practice”: if there is no “practice,” then the statute does not apply. The EMT in this case was off work both days in question, and the employer administered the drug test when the EMT was not practicing.
The case was dismissed without a finding of probable cause without any consequences on the EMT’s license.
This information is a sample of our past results. Prospective clients may not obtain the same or similar results. Every case is different and each case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits. The circumstances of your case may differ from the results provided. The information provided has not been reviewed or approved by the State Bar.
We were able to quickly gather enough favorable testimony and evidence supporting the RN’s case regarding his reasons for refusing the drug screen, and evidence of diversion was actually just a documentation error.
Our RN client was able to explain the high-usage Pyxis report due to his position as a charge nurse and preceptor in the ICU, and there was no evidence of drug use.
We were able to provide an explanation on why the drug screening was “out of range,” and the substance abuse evaluation confirmed there was no abuse or drug diversion of narcotics.
Is it better for doctors, nurses and others licensed health care professionals with impairment or diversion issues to wait until the COVID-19 quarantine is lifted before they enroll in IPN or PRN?
For nurses and other health care professionals accused of drug diversion, the most crucial thing to do is to fight the allegations as early as possible, in order to prevent formal action and discipline.