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What rights do nurses have when facing discipline over addiction?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2022 | Medical Practices |

Nursing is an incredibly demanding profession. You have to attend school for years to get a license in most cases and have very demanding daily responsibilities at work. A small mistake could mean adverse medical consequences for your patience or financial liability for your employer.

Unless you work at a doctor’s office that is only open during business hours, you likely need to work the occasional holiday and weekend in addition to putting in exceptionally long shifts or being on call even when you are with your family. The pressure of your job or the physical toll it takes on your body may result in my choice to start self-medicating. Developing a habit of using certain substances can lead to an arrest.

If a nurse gets caught in possession of controlled substances and faces drug charges, what rights does that professional have?

The right for people to assume they are innocent

A nurse accused of misconduct, unless those accusations come from their employer, should not face any career consequences until they receive fair consideration in the courts. Anyone accused of a criminal offense is innocent until proven guilty, and that protection extends to medical professionals as well as to those accused of violent criminal offenses.

The right to defend against charges and licensing penalties

Nurses accused of a criminal offense can go to court to defend themselves. However, if they plead guilty to the criminal offense they still have rights.

The Florida Board of Nursing has to give those accused of misconduct an opportunity to defend their reputations and their licenses. Just like you can have an attorney represent you in court, so too can you have legal representation when defending your professional reputation and licensing in front of professional authorities.

The right to request pretrial diversion

One of the ways that a nurse accused of a substance abuse offense could avoid a criminal record and licensing consequences might be to pursue adjudication in the Florida drug courts. Unlike traditional criminal court proceedings, drug court proceedings focused on rehabilitation instead of punishment.

If someone completes all of the requirements set by the courts, they can avoid a criminal record and criminal penalties. Pursuing drug court proceedings instead of criminal proceedings could be one way for nursing professionals facing criminal charges to protect their profession.

Learning more about your rights as a nursing professional facing drug charges can help you move on from this difficult situation with minimal consequences.