I Failed a Drug Test: Will I Lose My Nursing License?

Regular or random drug testing of nurses is a common practice in the state of California. However, California is also a place where, due to the recent legalization of marijuana, the repercussions of failing a drug test can be a source of confusion for nurses. If you recently tested positive for an illegal drug, you likely have many questions about how it will impact your license and your career. Below, we’ll discuss the realities of failed drug tests for California nurses and give you tips on when to seek help from a board of nursing attorney.

When a Drug Test May be Ordered

It is a reality that in the state of California, a drug test may be ordered at nearly any time in a nurse’s career. Typically, nurses are tested for drugs prior to being hired for a new position. In addition, nurses suspected of doing their jobs while impaired may be tested. Sometimes drug tests even arise unexpectedly in response to patient complaints.

Another scenario that may prompt unexpected drug testing is when a nurse is injured at work, in which case they will be tested to ensure that their injuries did not occur because they used illegal substances. Finally, if a nurse makes a mistake or jeopardizes a patient’s health, a drug test is often ordered.

In addition to the many situations that may prompt drug tests, some organizations require random or regular drug screenings on a monthly or yearly basis, depending on the organization’s preferences. Needless to say, nurses need to be prepared in the event that they are asked to take a drug test, which means avoiding all use of illegal and recreational drugs.

What Happens if I Test Positive for Drugs?

When a nurse fails a drug test, it must be reported to the California Board of Registered Nurses by their employer. Keep in mind that although recreational marijuana use has been legalized in California, the California Supreme Court has ruled that organizations can still fire any employee who tests positive for the drug, even if a doctor recommended medical marijuana to them. If you find yourself in this situation, it is best to hire an attorney to go over your licensing agency’s reporting requirements.

Once the Board receives notice of a positive drug test, it has several steps it can take. For instance, the Board can investigate further or file an Accusation to suspend or revoke your license. Different factors, like the drug you tested positive for, whether you were working and/or under the influence, and whether you had a prescription may affect how the Board approaches the matter.  In some cases, the Board may send you a letter offering for you to enter Board Diversion. This is a drug and alcohol (and mental health) rehabilitation program, about which you should consult your medical providers and an attorney. Enrolling in the program can affect your licensure, whether or not a case is filed against you, and may have other lasting impacts on your life, career, and finances.

If you are a nurse who recently failed a drug test and need legal help, Scott J Harris has the knowledge and experience to assist you in getting the best possible outcome for your case. Get in touch at 323-794-070 or fill out our form for a free consultation.

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This blog is meant to be informational. It is not meant to be all-encompassing legal advice. If you are facing a situation involving your professional license, seek counsel from a licensed attorney.