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Addiction can endanger your medical career

Addiction to opioids, such as prescription painkillers, has reached epidemic levels in the United States. Florida hasn't escaped the nightmare, as people overdose or get arrested on drug charges on a daily basis.

The consequences of a drug conviction are quite serious. However, for people in the medical field, claims of addiction are even more dangerous.

In addition to the potential for health consequences and criminal charges, medical professionals dealing with addiction can also lose their careers. The Florida Board of Medicine, which governs medical doctors and physician assistants, as well as the Florida Board of Nursing, both take allegations of addiction and impairment quite seriously. Even anonymous claims by someone with a personal grudge could result in an investigation that damages your reputation or costs you your license.

Investigations focus on any histories with pain medication

From writing prescriptions for patients with questionable conditions to prescribing medication to personal friends or family members for personal use, there are many ways that doctors have abused the authority granted them by the state licensing board. Similarly, a nurse's position makes it easy to obtain and divert drugs intended for patients for the nurses' personal use.

Claims of addiction are serious and can have a long-term impact on your career, income and future. After the investigation into claims or complaints against you, you will have an opportunity to defend yourself before the board in an administrative hearing.

Sometimes there can be a perfectly reasonable explanation for actions that may seem unusual to someone who does not know the whole story. Other times, you may have already taken steps to put your addiction behind you. You have the right to defend your license and reputation from claims of addiction.

Impairment claims have serious consequences

If a patient, co-worker or other person alleges that you showed up to work while impaired, the Florida medical licensing board will take a harsh view of your bad decision. Mistakes made by medical professionals under the influence of drugs or alcohol can result in poor patient care, injuries, disabilities or even deaths.

Symptoms or behavior that appear to indicate impairment, such as shaking hands or issues with speech, may have legitimate origins. For example, low glucose levels or caffeine withdrawals at the end of a shift may paint a picture of impairment.

As with allegations of addiction, you have the right to defend yourself against claims of impairment at work. Knowing the basis for these claims, as well as the identity of the complainant, can help you create a successful defense for hearings with the relevant licensing boards.

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