Karen Marie Bankarski, a registered nurse from Whatcom County, was found to have repeatedly forged prescriptions in order to obtain narcotics. She was determined to have forged more than 40 prescriptions for opioid medications, which have been the major cause of overdose fatalities across the county recently. The Washington State Nursing Commission has imposed various sanctions on Bankarski for these violations and for testing positive for using narcotics.
The majority of her actions occurred while employed as a nurse at Skagit Regional Clinic in Mount Vernon. She had apparently used the prescription identification information of a physician who worked at the facility to forge the documents. She has since been placed on a monitoring program for substance abuse, suspended for work, and been placed on probation.
State Nursing Commission Sanctions
According to the Nursing Commission, Benkarski will remain on probation for a minimum of 60 months. She must complete various educational programs that relate to ethics and liability also. Since she was initially disciplined for these activities, she tested positive for opioids when she was subject to drug screening. She is currently prohibited from working in an environment where she could potentially have access to narcotics or prescription-related documents.
Recent Opioid Data
It is estimated that more than 80% of fatalities stemming from prescription opioids are preventable. Far too many individuals simply are not aware of the potentially lethal ramifications of abusing these medications. In the wake of the many such deaths across Washington, legislators have begun implementing measures they hope will prevent the fatalities. The Governor has since signed laws that relate to prescription regulation, monitoring requirements, and mandated treatment.
The new guidelines will require that medical providers more actively engage and assess those patients who are prescribed opioid medications. Far too many patients quickly find themselves addicted to these forms of medication. Physicians are also being educated regarding the drug naloxone, which can be used to save a person experiencing an overdose. Often this product will be co-prescribed to those who are being treated with opioids.
There are continuing efforts being made to find ways of treating pain among patients that reduce risks. The National Institute of Health says that those who are co-prescribed naloxone are 47% less likely to visit an emergency room.
Washington Law Regarding Obtaining Controlled Substances (RCW 69.50.403)
The law prohibits obtaining controlled substances in the following ways:
- Through means that involve “fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or subterfuge.”
- By altering or otherwise forging a prescription
- Through acts of concealing facts
- By presenting a false identity or misrepresenting themselves as a physician, pharmacist, etc.
- To intentionally mislabel anything that contains a controlled substance
Legal Representation for Drug-Related Offenses in Seattle
Widespread prescribing of opioid pain medication has often led to problems with dependence on these drugs. In too many cases, otherwise, law-abiding individuals have begun demonstrating criminal behavior that is having life-altering ramifications. Attorney Steve Karimi represents clients facing these and other criminal allegations throughout the greater King County region. Contact the office today for a confidential case evaluation at (206) 621-8777.