The abuse of controlled substances is a serious health problem nationally and in Colorado. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), unintentional overdose deaths from prescription opioids quadrupled since 1999. Studies suggest an estimated one in 10 healthcare practitioners will develop a problem with controlled substances (the same rate experienced by the general population), raising concerns for patient safety.
In response to this statewide crisis, the Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations is undertaking policy and strategic initiatives to address drug diversion by healthcare professionals and protect consumers in Colorado's healthcare system.
Initiative Kicks-Off with Webinar
The Division is working with hospitals in the state to raise awareness and educate hospital employees about reporting suspicious behavior. We are encouraging early information sharing for cases involving licensed healthcare practitioners. The Division hosted an informative webinar in June that highlighted the following:
- Overview of the regulatory boards and programs involved in the initiative,
- Overview of the enforcement process,
- How employers, health care providers, and consumers can file a complaint, and
- Current requirements and ongoing need for employer reporting,
More than 1400 people registered for the first webinar. The Division recognizes many were unable to join us. We hope the recording of the webinar and accompanying slides will be viewed at your convenience.
Increased Efforts to Encourage Reporting
We also want to encourage law enforcement and employers to report any drug diversion investigations to the Division. This will help build partnerships that will increase consumer protection. Please feel free to post the flyers below to educate colleagues about how to participate in this important initiative.
- "Let DPO Know" - Download flyer for Law Enforcement
- "Let DPO Know" - Download flyer for Healthcare Employers and Employees
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the Drug Diversion Policy Initiative
- How does DORA protect consumers from nurses and other healthcare professionals that are addicted to drugs?
The Boards and Programs housed in the Division of Professions and Occupations work to ensure that patients are treated safely and encourage any patient, family member, colleague or another person to file a complaint if they suspect a licensed healthcare practitioner violated the law or professional standards. You can submit a complaint online or as a hard copy, and our website has additional resources to further explain this process.
The Division of Professions and Occupations also is working with hospitals in the state to raise awareness and educate hospital employees about reporting suspicious behavior, and to encourage early information sharing for cases involving licensed healthcare practitioners.
The Division hosted a webinar in June, and more than 1,400 hospital employees and healthcare licensees registered for this event. Complaints from the public, including employers and co-workers, are essential to professional licensing enforcement. Last year the Division received 5,000 complaints and took 1,500 disciplinary actions.
- What other actions is DORA taking to respond to the increasing problem of drug diversion in the state?
Nursing Board announces enforcement priority/cautions nurses
Expedient Action for Drug Diversion: On July 26, 2016, the Colorado State Board of Nursing, housed in the Division, adopted Policy 20-27: Board Actions to Protect the Public from Drug Diversion by a Licensed Nurse. This Policy provides earlier notice to the public for cases involving drug diversion. The policy provides notice to nurses that the Board will take expedient action where suspected drug diversion by a licensee causes the potential for public harm.
The Board now has a tool that will help protect patients by immediately suspending a nurse's license until such time as his/her ability to practice safely can be assessed The policy expedites notice to the public of cases in which a nurse is terminated or forced to resign for suspected drug diversion. Nurses that fail to submit to a drug test ordered by their employer will also be subject to suspension.
Increased communication with hospitals and law enforcement
Expanding outreach to employers and co-workers on complaints: The Division of Professions and Occupations is working with hospitals in the state to raise awareness and educate hospital employees about reporting suspicious behavior, and to encourage early information sharing for cases involving licensed healthcare practitioners. The Division encourages employers to post our informative flyer to educate colleagues.
The Division also hosted a webinar training in June. Close to 1400 hospital employees and healthcare licensees registered for this event. Complaints from the public, including employers and co-workers, are essential to professional licensing enforcement. Last year the Division received 5,000 complaints and took 1,500 disciplinary actions.
Expanding early information sharing with law enforcement: The Division's team of investigators works closely with law enforcement when licensees are suspected of engaging in criminal activity. To expand early information sharing, a Division flyer is raising awareness with police, district attorneys and other law enforcement around the state about professional licensing laws, violations that may lead to an arrest, and the type of evidence necessary to remove a licensee from practice.
- Has DORA taken any enforcement actions recently? Where can the public get notice of those?
Press releases: www.colorado.gov/dora
Full Division Licensee List: Colorado Information Marketplace (CIM) Division of Professions and Occupations Data
Lookup by licensee name: Verify a Colorado Professional License
For additional questions or information, please contact:
- Questions from Law Enforcement - Kevin Huff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-894-7708.
- Other Questions - email@example.com.
- To file a complaint - visit askDORA.colorado.gov and click on "File a Complaint."