In the past year, I have represented a dozen nurses and doctors who have been accused of being impaired on the job. Many of these clients have been on pain medication and anti-anxiety medication. Many healthcare professionals who suffer from chronic pain are being prescribed opiate medications. Often, depression and anxiety medication are prescribed as well. Because of concerns over the use of opiate medication leading to addiction, more and more pain management doctors are beginning to prescribe alternatives to opiates. Recently, I have seen many clients who are now being prescribed Neurontin (gabapentin) to manage their pain. Some clients are also being prescribed Amrix, a muscle relaxer.
Many healthcare professionals are being treated for anxiety with benzodiazepines such as valium or Xanax. Along with the use of benzos, we often see ambien being prescribed for sleep difficulties.
If you are on a benzodiazepine, in all instances, the evaluators for the Nursing Board will require that you stop using them.
If you are on any combination of opiate medication along with benzodiazepines, stimulants and/or ambien, there is a high likelihood that an evaluator for the Nursing or Medical Board will find that you are impaired and must enter treatment before you are allowed to return to work. This is why it is extremely important that if you are accused of being impaired on the job, you first contact a skilled healthcare licensing attorney who is familiar with the various types of pain medications and anti-anxiety medications and who is also experienced before the various Healthcare Boards and will know how to advise you. In many of these cases, we can work with you and your doctor to agree to a treatment plan which will allow you to continue to practice without interruption and without the need to enter the Voluntary Recovery Program (VRP).