Case Result: RN's License Restored After Proof of A False Positive Drug Test

Professional:
Registered Nurse (RN)

Primary issue:
A RN was working when a routine pharmacy audit revealed a couple of inconsistencies. The RN was asked to submit to a reasonable suspicion urine test and complied to avoid termination. To their surprise, the drug test was positive for opioids. The RN denied using opiates and did not have a prescription. Due to the positive test, they were reported to the Florida Department of Health (FLDOH). FLDOH began investigating them for impairment and possible drug diversion. The investigation revealed no actual discrepancies; however, the matter of the positive test was still at issue. Consequently, FLDOH issued an Orders Compelling Examination (OCE) which forced our client to go to an evaluator for an assessment of their ability to practice with reasonable skill and safety.

Argument:
The RN presented their scheduled evaluation and completed hair, blood, and urine testing. The labs were negative for all controlled substances. The evaluator concluded that the evidence did not support findings of opiate abuse/misuse. In fact, they stated that the negative hair test directly contradicted the positive urine test taken at work, meaning that the original sample was indeed a false positive drug test. Despite this, monitoring was recommended to ensure full abstinence from any potentially impairing substances. We objected to the recommendation, arguing there was no evidence of diversion and that the issue was clearly caused by a false positive drug test. Despite that, FLDOH filed a formal Administrative Complaint. Chapman Law Group filed a Petition for Reconsideration and argued the case needed to be re-presented to the Probable Cause Panel for dismissal due to lack of evidence. We argued on behalf of the RN that the evaluator’s recommendation was not supported by science or law.

Result:
The Board suspended the nurse’s license for one year and imposed a fine that was 10% of what the statute authorized. Although the probable cause panel initially recommended revocation, the outcome was significantly less severe.

If You Are Facing A Similar Issue:
If you are a licensed healthcare professional and you are asked to submit to a reasonable suspicion drug test, you should know that testing positive for a drug without a valid script is a Practice Act violation that will lead to IPN referral (PRN for Doctors) and FLDOH investigation. If you have reason to believe you will test positive, or if you test positive, you should immediately contact us. The right kind of defense can save you from a formal complaint and needing to attend a monitoring program.

Areas of Law:
Department of Health Investigations
Nursing License Defense Law
Orders Compelling Examinations
Administrative Complaints

Attorney:
Sara A. Bazzigaluppi

Disclaimer:
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.

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