What should I do if I receive a letter demanding a response and appearance before the Minnesota Board of Nursing?
Call Forshier Law, LLC. immediately. Timing is critical as responses are usually due within ten days. Do not delay! This is a serious issue and may affect your ability to practice nursing, your livelihood.
Should I admit to my employer that I diverted?
While it may seem like the right thing to do, it could pose a big problem later. Cases of diversion must be reported to local law enforcement and also the DEA. Nurses are often held criminally accountable for diversion. This will most likely be a felony with very serious consequences. You have the right to remain silent. This will be your best response until you speak with a criminal attorney. **Make sure your criminal attorney is aware that some felony convictions will impact your ability to work. This is a complex statute in addition to your license issue.
But I did not divert. Will I lose my license?
No. This is a tough spot to be in for any nurse. Because now you have to prove to the Board a negative, that you did not divert, despite the serious allegations against you from your employer. If you are brought in with this allegation, offer a drug test. Often the employer will not take you up on your offer because after all, you could be selling the drugs. In this case, go in and get a toxicology screen done asap. Call your doctor and have them order it for you. A negative toxicology screen will be a part of proving your case at the Board.
Common Causes of the Allegation of Diversion
- Discrepancies in your controlled substance administration and the amount wasted.
- Failing to scan controlled substances. Be sure to alert management if you have scanner problems and keep a copy of the email.
- Failure to document a pain assessment prior to administering medications and after as mandated by policy.
- Administering controlled substances where the patient did not previously need them. Be sure to document a note to support your administration. Often we see, “You gave morphine and this patient had previously only required hydrocodone; or You were the only nurse that administered narcotics.”
- Frequently giving these medications for other staff. If you are the buddy nurse, sign in as such and put in a nursing note.
- Handing off something you have pulled from the medication administration system (“MAS”). It will show you pulled it out but did not administer it. You are responsible for anything you pull out. Best practice is ‘if you pull it you push it.’
- Always make sure you have a witness for your waste and always actually watch when you are the witness.
- Waste before administering if you know your dose. If you are titrating, be sure to waste in close proximity to the last administration. If there is no other nurse around, call the pharmacy or your supervisor to waste. Do not put it off. You may forget and that looks bad.
- Administer the medication as soon as possible after removing from the MAS. Many facilities have policies on the timeframe it must be given after administration.
- Do not put medications in your pockets.
- Do not pull out for more than 1 patient at a time.
- Know and follow your facility policies and procedures related to all controlled substances.
Do I need a lawyer?
While it is not mandatory to be represented by an attorney, it is highly recommended. You will be interrogated by staff of the Board of Nursing, which is an entity overseen by the Minnesota Attorney General’s office. An Assistant Attorney General will be present at the hearing. With so much at stake we recommend our low cost, flat fee legal representation. The Minnesota Board of Nursing exists to protect the public, not you, the nurse.
For a very reasonable flat fee Forshier Law, L.L.C. will:
- Explain the entire process
- Meet with you in person (I will travel within 20 miles of the Twin Cities) or by phone
- Send in your response documents after full discussion with you. (Note the response is usually due in 10-14 days so do not delay.)
- Meet with you for 1-2 hours prior to the hearing at the Board of Nursing
- The flat fee includes: phone calls, travel, copying, postage, pre-hearing conferences and the hearing at the Board of Nursing