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Will I lose my medical/health care license over a drug addiction?

by | Jun 25, 2021 | Health Care Law

Working in health care is often emotionally and physically exhausting. If you are a doctor or nurse, you spent years completing your education and for doctors you had to put in long shifts during your residency. At some point, you may have suffered from serious back pain because of all the hours you worked and the stress involved. Then, unfortunately, you may have developed an addition to prescription opioids. You may still struggle with this addiction and are concerned it will cause you to lose your professional license.

What should you do if your addiction is discovered and you face losing your license over your addiction?

Addiction among medical/health care providers

First it is important to know that you are not alone. According to the Mayo Clinic Proceedings medical journal, between 10 and 12% of physicians will develop an addiction problem in their careers.  The Addiction Center in an article published on March 25, 2021 noted that 1 in 10 physicians will fall into drug/alcohol abuse and 20% of all nurses struggle with some form of addiction. Unfortunately, many doctors and nurses who develop an addiction fear seeking treatment for it. They feel a sigma around their addiction and worry that seeking treatment will cause them to lose their medical license.

However, most often doctors, nurses and other health care providers lose their professional licenses for not seeking treatment for their addiction and their addiction may eventually negatively impact their patient treatment. In fact, addiction problems is one of the most common reasons physicians, nurses and other health care providers lose their medical licenses.

When facing a board hearing over your license

If you are facing a medical, nurse or other health care board hearing about your license because of an addiction, you need to seek legal help. You will need an attorney who can help you present a solid defense to the board. You also will need an attorney who understands New Jersey health care laws and can negotiate for you if needed. Options exist to address the issues.

Any time you receive notice your medical, nursing or other professional license is in jeopardy, you need to take the situation very seriously. You cannot afford to make mistakes which could result in a revocation of license which also impacts your ability to work in your chosen profession in other jurisdictions. You want an advocate who can protect your best interests. The Weir Law Firm, LLC has extensive experience in health care law.

Sources: Keith H. Berge, MD, Marvin D. Seppala, MD and Agnes M. Schipper, JD (2009). Chemical Dependency and the Physician. Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Jeffrey Juergens, J.D., Substance Abuse in Health Care published in AddictionCenter.com (March 25, 2021).