Can a nurse use prescribed narcotics and work at the same time?

By | 2015-09-21T15:35:53-04:00 September 25th, 2015|0 Comments

Dear Nancy,

Can an RN use prescribed narcotics and work at the same time? Also, if you are referred to a required substance abuse program, can a nurse decline these services and still keep a nursing license? I’m also interested to know if a nurse can sue the person who reported this narcotic use and is slandering someone without just cause.



Dear Jeanne,

Your questions are important ones. They need to be directed to a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who works with nurses in professional disciplinary proceedings who can respond to them and represent you in a case before the state board of nursing.

Insofar as suing the individual who reported you to the board of nursing, that question is also one to discuss with your attorney. Generally speaking, if the report was made in good faith, most times such a reporting is not actionable. Be certain to inform your attorney of all of the facts (as you know them) surrounding the report to the board, so the attorney can evaluate it carefully.

Although it sounds that you may have been falsely accused of having a substance abuse problem when you have been prescribed a narcotic for a specific medical problem, if you do have a substance abuse problem — whether with prescribed controlled substances or not — carefully evaluate your situation and seek treatment. Analyzing the need of the narcotic for your medical condition might be a part of that treatment so you can resume a life, both professionally and personally, that is as substance-free as possible.



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About the Author:

Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN
Our legal information columnist Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and concentrates her solo law practice in health law and legal representation, consultation and education for healthcare professionals, school of nursing faculty and healthcare delivery facilities. Brent has conducted many seminars on legal issues in nursing and healthcare delivery across the country and has published extensively in the area of law and nursing practice. She brings more than 30 years of experience to her role of legal information columnist. Her posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice. Individuals who need advice on a specific incident or work situation should contact a nurse attorney or attorney in their state. Visit The American Association of Nurse Attorneys website to search its attorney referral database by state.

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