Drug Diversion

If you have, or are suspected of diverting medication from your employer, “Drug Diversion” can mean 2 separate things. The first is following a criminal investigation and prosecution, you are offered Drug Diversion from the courts or what is known as a deferred judgment (CA Penal Code 1000). A deferred judgment means that if you complete the court-ordered drug diversion program, the charges against you will eventually go away, in a sense.

The second Drug Diversion is the Diversion program offered by the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) and facilitated by the private company, Maximus. Like criminal drug diversion, the BRN’s diversion program will allow you to keep your RN license, if you complete the program and the underlying actions against your license will remain “confidential”.

The two are not interchangeable. You cannot use one to satisfy the other. You must do both. You will have to pay the criminal piper and the BRN piper.

Diversion of medication from an employer does not always result in a criminal investigation, in fact, in our experience it is rare. What is not rare, is the BRN receiving notice that you have possibly diverted and offering their own Diversion Program. You can read more about the BRN’s Diversion Program pros and cons here.

There is a huge misconception in the nursing community that drug diversion, suspected or real, will result in revocation of the RN’s license UNLESS the RN enrolls in the BRN’s Diversion Program and that participation in Diversion keeps everything quiet. This is not always, nor is it most often, the case. Sure, Diversion is the ONLY way that your license remains unscathed, but its purported “confidentiality” is a bit of a misnomer. In order to be accepted into Diversion, the RN must admit to a dependency or mental health issue that precludes her (or him) from practicing safely. The RN’s license is immediately deactivated so the RN cannot work as a nurse. In order to be returned to active status, sometimes 6-12 months later, the RN must have recovered enough to be deemed safe to go back to work. Here’s the clincher: once the RN is “back to work” she is back under a very strict set of guidelines and requirements: she cannot work certain shifts, cannot be around meds and needs to be observed. So obviously whomever is employing this RN and babysitting them, is certainly going to KNOW that the nurse is in the Diversion Program.

The alternative to the Diversion Program is an investigation and eventually a potential accusation be filed against the RN’s license. This isn’t great either, since the accusation becomes public record and unless the case is dropped entirely (this happens in less than 1% of cases) the accusation will remain attached to the RN’s license indefinitely. Accusations call for revocation of the RN’s license, but our panel attorneys have successfully defended hundreds of RN’s with diversion accusations and are very successful in retaining our client’s licenses on a probationary status. This means the RN can keep working at his or her job, their license at no time is inactivated and there are no requirements precluding the nurse from working certain shifts or being around medication.

Should you find yourself in a predicament where you have diverted medication, or are suspected of diverting medication, please give me a call or fill out the contact form below. I will listen to the details of your situation and give you an honest review of what I believe you can expect in your specific case, based on hundreds of cases just like yours. Your initial call is always 100% confidential and always complimentary. Should you decide that you would like legal help, either with the BRN or a possible criminal issue, one of our experienced panel attorneys will be here to represent you. This may feel like the end of your career, but I promise, it doesn’t have to be. We have many clients just like you who are still licensed nurses, working in the career they love so much and we can help you, too


We can help you.

  • At this time, we only represent nurses and nursing students in California, Arizona, and Texas*

  • *For licenses in other states, please visit TAANA