One Of California's Leading
Professional License
Defense Law Firms

Photo of attorneys Jeffrey Kravitz and Paul Chan

Allegations of substance abuse can affect medical licensing

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2023 | Professional License Defense |

Working in the medical industry can be a very stressful career choice. Particularly if people work at hospitals, they may work long and unpredictable shifts. Even those who work a standard business day at a medical office may find their jobs to be very demanding.

The mental toll that medical work takes on an individual can affect their overall mental health even when they are not at work. Some people address this issue by self-medicating. They start drinking or using drugs as a way to address high stress levels or a negative mood after work. Those who develop a substance abuse disorder while working in the medical profession in California could be at risk of losing their professional licensing if issues occur on the job.

Addiction can lead to preventable errors

Those struggling with a substance abuse disorder often take care to only consume their substance of choice in a private or secure setting. However, they may show up to work hungover the next day. As their dependence worsens, they may start coming to work while under the influence or consuming drugs or alcohol while on the clock. Those choices may eventually result in a poor outcome for a patient.

Employers and patients, as well as coworkers, could report substance abuse issues to state licensing boards, like the California Board of Registered Nursing, to prompt an investigation. An investigation into professional misconduct involving mind-altering substances could eventually cost someone their license.

Addiction can lead to drug diversion

Someone struggling with substance abuse issues might end up stealing from their employers or their patients. A nurse distributing opioids, sleep medication or muscle relaxants to a patient might reduce their dose or replace their medication with baby aspirin to take some of their pills home. Others might steal from their employers to help feed their addiction.

Both patients and employers may eventually realize that someone has begun taking medication from work for personal use. The impact such actions can have on patient care could be severe and would warrant an investigation, possibly followed by disciplinary action.

There are voluntary programs that can help licensed medical professionals in California gain control over a substance abuse disorder before it spirals out of control. Those facing penalties usually have the right to defend themselves in front of the appropriate licensing board, potentially with the help of a lawyer.

Ultimately, understanding the connection between personal habits and career consequences may help those working in licensed professions protect their future career opportunities.

FindLaw Network