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Falsely Accused of Drug Diversion

Nurse Beth   (293 Views 2 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

334 Likes; 10 Followers; 81 Articles; 224,791 Visitors; 1,688 Posts


Dear Nurse Beth,

I worked in an ER as an LPN from 2000-2007, graduated RN and began my RN career at the same ER in 2007 until I was terminated in 2009.

I was brought to a conference room after a night shift in 2009. I was given a stack of charts and was told that I had failed to chart giving narcotics and failed to waste narcotics in the pyxis system, I was stunned as I could not believe the accusations. Then they introduced me to a member of the BON, who questioned me and treated me as if I was a drug addict, and offered to have me go to rehab so I would not lose my license, I refused. I was then sent for a urine drug screen and breathalyzer. My breathalyzer and UDS were negative.

I was ultimately terminated for “documenting issues”. A few weeks later I received a letter from the BON stating basically that they did not find any reason to discipline me and that my license was in good standing! So I chalked it up to a learning experience and got another job, in fact, I have had NO issues in finding employment and about 7 years after being terminated I was RE-HIRED into the same hospital system that had terminated me in 2009!

In 2016 I moved to another state and got an RN job at a Drs office. Recently I applied and interviewed at an ER local to me here in Pa, the interview went fantastic and I was very excited. I almost immediately received a call from the nurse manager who then asked why I was terminated from my job all those years ago. I was completely honest even revealing that the BON was present but they did not discipline me and pointed out that I was rehired into the same health system years later.

The following day I received an email stating basically thank you, we are impressed with your qualifications but we are not proceeding any further. I was heartbroken as I really wanted this position! So I moved on and applied for another ER position in a nearby town (in the same health system as the one in my town) and again received an email saying that they were not interested (I did not even get an interview). I’m wondering if maybe I was “flagged” in their system as do not hire because of my prior termination in 2009.

Would it be worth emailing HR to plead my case? Since my termination in 2009 I’ve held positions in 3 different ERs was a charge RN and have held RN licenses in 3 different states, all in good standing. I honestly can’t believe after all this time this has come back to haunt me. I’m sorry this is so long but I wanted you to have the full story. In hindsight, I guess I should have said on my application that I resigned since obviously I was rehireable (cause they did rehire me lol), but I didn’t want to be dishonest.

Dear Falsely Accused,

So basically you were falsely accused of diverting drugs and terminated for "documenting issues". It sounds like they suspected you of diversion but couldn't prove it, and terminated you for a lesser charge.

Fast forward to your recent interview in a different health care system. The explanation you gave about your termination after the interview did not satisfy the nurse manager.  Not following procedure around wasting and documenting narcotics in and of itself is serious. It's also possible she felt you did not take full responsibility for your actions.

Yes, you may well be "flagged" in their system as a "Do not hire". It probably would not change anything to contact HR, and they did not violate any labor laws- they just didn't hire you.

Moving forward, you could just list dates of employment unless the application forces an answer, such as "Were you ever terminated?" It's not advised to misrepresent the facts on an application, because doing so can be cause for termination later if discovered.

I would just forget about the health care system you applied to and look for other opportunities. Good luck to you.

Best wishes, 

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!


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TriciaJ has 35 years experience as a RN and works as a Retired.

1,096 Likes; 5 Followers; 30,758 Visitors; 2,770 Posts

Falsely Accused:  I'm wondering if you didn't get on the wrong side of someone in your previous job.  That's where all the bogus charges came from.  You were cleared of everything, yet it's all coming back and keeping you from getting hired.

When prospective employers are doing reference checks, who are they calling?  Someone is black-balling you; it might be someone you least suspect.  Think real hard about the names you put down for references.  Unless you haven't been completely forthcoming, then there's something shady going on.

Good luck.

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