Nurse is focus of misconduct accusation

A nurse who worked at rehabilitation facilities in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach is being accused by state authorities of professional misconduct.

The California attorney general's office filed the formal accusation against Jill Suzanne Shelton, a registered nurse since 1992, through the state Board of Registered Nursing.

Shelton, 43, is accused of illegally obtaining, prescribing and dispensing medications used to treat narcotic dependence, allowing unauthorized staff to provide healthcare services to patients and improperly disposing of controlled substances, according to the complaint filed July 9.

She could not be reached for comment through Sure Haven, the Costa Mesa drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for women where she now works as a registered nurse.

If the state wins the case, Shelton could have her nursing license revoked, according to the accusation.

The complaint states that in 2010, Shelton allegedly used a doctor's federally issued certification to order the drugs Subutex and Suboxone from pharmacies in bulk quantities for use at the Pat Moore Foundation in Costa Mesa and Morningside Recovery in Newport Beach, where she provided healthcare services to patients.

Subutex and Suboxone are drugs used to treat narcotic dependence.

According to the state's accusation, the doctor, a specialist in internal medicine, said he would advise Shelton on clinical issues related only to internal medicine because he had never practiced addiction medicine.

Only qualified physicians can obtain permission to treat narcotic dependence with Subutex, Suboxone and other drugs, according to the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000.

Shelton requested that the doctor obtain federally issued certification, which allowed him to treat narcotic dependence with drugs like Subutex and Suboxone, in 2010 and provide her with a copy. He gave her the certification with the intention that it would be used temporarily.

Shelton "was aware of the requirements for the prescribing and dispensing of Subutex and Suboxone. In 2006, [she] took an 8-hour Suboxone class and was trained in the use of Subutex and Suboxone by a physician," according to the accusation.

Shelton continued to use the certification without the doctor's permission, according to the accusation.

Mary Helen Beatificato, chief executive of Morningside, said Shelton hasn't been with the company since 2011. Shelton was a consultant who performed nurse practitioner services for the company, Beatificato said.

"We never had any issues with her," she said. "It's been two and half years since she's been with us."

Morningside made headlines recently after announcing plans to move out of Newport Beach, ending a years-long lawsuit with the city.

Representatives from the Pat Moore Foundation could not be reached for comment.

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