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Someone reported me saying I take illegal drugs and am a risk to patients. I passed a drug test. Do I have any recourse here?

Monday June 10, 2013
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Dear Nancy,

Someone reported me to the company that I work for saying I take illegal drugs and am a risk to patients. I voluntarily submitted to a drug screen and passed, because I am not on drugs. Now someone has contacted the state board of nursing making the same accusations. I cannot prove who is making these accusations. Do I have any recourse or do I have to prove my innocence?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Alexander,

The best way for you to prove these accusations are untrue is to retain a nurse attorney or attorney to represent you in the board proceedings. Accusations are just that, but if they keep coming up and creating problems for you, then you must prove them to be false. You were successful at your place of employment, but your license is now at stake. This is a serious issue that must be resolved.

The board may want you to be evaluated by a physician or advanced practice nurse that is certified or specializes in addiction medicine in order to obtain a professional opinion about whether or not you are using drugs. Since your position is that you are not using them, this evaluation, if required by the board or suggested by your attorney, can clear you of these false statements. Remember, it is your license, thus your livelihood and reputation that are at stake here.

If it is determined who is making these false accusations, your attorney may suggest filing a suit for defamation against this person. Remember that defamation is saying or writing something to another person about you that is false and damages your reputation. This is especially true when the false rumors affect you as a practicing professional. Your attorney can discuss this option with you, if it exists.


Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.