Healthcare professionals often find themselves in precarious situations while performing job responsibilities. All professions come with some occupational risks, but nurses and physicians have one particular responsibility that few other professionals experience. That is the dispensation of pain medications to patients that are under strict control of the U.S. government. There are several federal agencies that have rules and regulations regarding the use of controlled substances in the health care profession, but the most important of these could be the Drug Enforcement Administration that investigates all potential abuses with respect to unlawful dispensing of controlled medications. Not only can civil cases arise from claims of improper dispensation, but the federal government can also levy charges against medical professionals who dispense medications.
The first step for any nursing professional when being charged with improper dispensation is securing effective and experienced legal counsel to represent them through the adjudication process. Many times the evidence is circumstantial and based on complaints from patient families who think there may be nefarious activity involved in the treatment of their loved ones. However, more often than not, the information supplied to the federal enforcement agencies comes from the employing facility. While these are handled similarly to all other potential criminal matters, there are only so many methods in which drug dispensation can be violated. Most nursing facilities have a strict protocol when patients are given controlled medications. In addition, all evidence being used as the basis for a charge must be obtained legally and have a valid application to what is being alleged. Having an experienced legal professional that focuses their practice on defending nurses and physicians is vital because the elements of drug charges against medical professionals are relatively unique considering other types of drug charges.
Drug Diversion as a Case Remedy
All criminal cases are settled in a similar fashion. Prosecutors typically do not want a case going to trial before a jury because the court does not have sentencing control. Conversely, prosecutors also never want to dismiss a case once charges have been filed, which means the process almost always includes plea bargaining. The best possible outcome in this scenario is a drug diversion agreement that allows the medical professional to possibly continue working for a designated period of time under a strict evaluation regimen or pass a regular drug screening during the time frame. Once the agreement is made between defense legal counsel and the court, nurses who complete the diversion period successfully will have their charges dropped and the case is settled at that point with respect to criminal prosecution. The next step after a successful diversion period is records expungement, which always takes comprehensive legal representation.
An Investment in Your Future
Retaining solid legal counsel during a drug charge for medical professionals is imperative. Many nurses actually face losing their license even for a general outside criminal drug charge, and a diversion agreement can result in maintaining a nursing or physyican’s license when the case can be diverted and expunged as though it never happened. The real goal is to avoid conviction. While many nurses will understand their need for personal indemnity insurance, others may not. Insurance policies typically provide financial resources for legal representation as well as liability, and maintaining this protection is an investment in the future as well as personal freedom.
The outcome of a drug charge for medical professionals can leave many aspects of life in jeopardy, and it is always vital to defend against any charges. And, this is especially true when they stem from job responsibilities that are being portrayed inaccurately to the legal system. Always retain an experienced law firm that focuses their practice on providing counsel for healthcare professionals. Your future can depend on it.