In August 2013, I was terminated from employment for a positive drug test result. This was a voluntary test I took after concerns about a recent allergic reaction to an unknown cause. I disputed the results and continue to dispute the results, as a false positive. I was not notified of the results of the test, until 10 days post-test, at which time I was terminated. This prevented a confirmatory test possibility; and two weeks without pay, then termination prevented shipping and retesting of the sample.
I was notified by the nursing board there would be an investigation, but nothing showed up on my license during searches. I have continued to work at various places of employment, without incident, accidents or any positive drug tests. The nursing board has renewed my license two times since then. During the time, I have received letters from the board every 6-12 months saying the investigation was still ongoing (due to backlog). Since then I have been able to continue working.
In April 2014, I was notified by a potential employer that formal charges in March 2014 were noted on my license during license verification. I have since gained employment, but the investigation and charges have continued from the Board. I have just received a proposed order from the board that puts stipulations on my license for one year due to the boards determination of patient safety risks, specific re-education with board-certified/sponsored classes and drug testing all at my own expense. It also states a board member can show up at my place of employment at any time and request a random test. It requires employer notification, monitoring and reporting by a supervisory RN for one year. I have rejected the proposed order and continue to maintain my innocence, which means a public hearing before the board.
I really don’t have the money for an attorney. I have financial issues due to the termination and periods of unemployment over the past years. I am now in a charge nurse position at a LTC facility, and am in-line for a QA Nurse/ADON position. I believe the board is being punitive at this point to continue pursuing the matter. I have been punished enough for this alleged misconduct.
My questions are: Am I stupid to think I can defend myself during the public hearing? What possible options do I have to keep my license even with penalties against me?
Dear Nancy replies:
The situation with your former employer and board of nursing problems has been ongoing for some time. Although it seems strange the board would take this long to come to a formal resolution about your situation, you now must deal with a hearing. Despite the fact that you say you do not have money for an attorney, it appears hiring a nurse attorney or other attorney to represent you in this matter
It does not seem likely that you could represent yourself in this situation. Not only are there questions about how the drug test itself was handled and the false positive result, but also a formal hearing requires knowledge of all of the areas of the law, both procedural and substantive, which you can use to defend yourself. Because your very livelihood is at risk, retaining an attorney would be well worth
Speak openly with the attorney about your financial situation and concerns. Perhaps the attorney will propose a payment plan or another option to allow you to get the representation you need. A positive outcome will not be able to be guaranteed by the attorney, but your chances of reaching a more positive ending to this situation is greatly enhanced by having legal representation.