Nurses have substance abuse problems at a rate similar to the general population. However, for nurses, substance abuse presents a significant problem, since drug or alcohol use can compromise your workplace and jeopardize patient safety.
The State of Florida takes this problem very seriously, with laws, penalties, reporting requirements and a rigorous treatment program dedicated solely to nurses. According to Florida’s Nurse Practice Act, use of alcohol or drugs that affect a nurse’s ability to practice nursing with reasonable skill and safety to patients is grounds for denial of a nursing license or disciplinary action. In the worst cases, when patients are harmed because of unprofessional and dangerous behavior, nurses can also face criminal charges.
Nurses who are not safe to practice because of substance abuse issues need a rigorous monitoring program like the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN) to help them get back on track. However, others with only a single impairment incident, such as a DUI offense, a positive drug screen, or other incident, may not benefit from such a regimented program. This blog post is intended to help nurses accused of substance abuse understand that they do have options and that they can fight to save their license and their career.
In addition, a long-term monitoring agreement with IPN Florida can be expensive and difficult to maintain, and it can still result in action taken against your nursing license.
Get Advice from an Experienced Florida Nursing License Defense Attorney
Nurses have access to numerous prescription drugs and work long, difficult hours, so accusations of substance abuse are not uncommon, even when there is no apparent evidence of addiction or impairment. If a supervisor or co-worker reported that you showed signs of intoxication on the job, or if you have been notified of an investigation, it is important to get advice from an experienced Florida nursing license defense attorney before trying to defend yourself or making any decisions about treatment and career options.
If you have been referred to Florida IPN or think you might be because of a DUI conviction, positive drug or alcohol test, accusations of drug use or drug diversion, or any other reason, contact an experienced license defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Jonathan Rose has the experience and expertise you need to prepare a strong defense and negotiate options other than IPN and Board action against your license. He will put his in-depth knowledge of the rules and regulations enforced by the Florida Board of Nursing and IPN to work for you.
Consider Your Options before Reporting to Florida IPN
For some nurses, IPN Florida is required, but for others, it is voluntary. Employers or the Florida Board of Nursing (BON) often suggest IPN as a way to avoid licensing action, and many nurses erroneously believe that if they do not report to IPN, they will face formal licensing action. Even if your employer tells you that entering the program is the only way you can avoid discipline, it is very important to speak with an attorney who has experience defending substance abuse allegations before you enter IPN or any other program.
While there are times that IPN may be beneficial for a nurse who does in fact struggle with alcohol or drug abuse, it is not always the right option – especially for those who do not have addiction problems. Non-impaired nurses obtain little to no benefit from the time, expense, and work limitations IPN imposes on them, and since they will be seen as “impaired,” their future employment opportunities could be limited. In addition, if they leave the program because of the high costs and time involved, they will be reported to the Department of Health as “non-compliant” and could face a formal action against their license.
It’s important to realize that in many cases, the IPN program is not your only option. There are less intrusive, less expensive private treatment options that can still enable you to keep your nursing license, and your attorney can help negotiate for these options. If, however, you and your attorney decide that Florida IPN is the best program for you, your attorney can possibly help negotiate an agreement that is less restrictive and less expensive than standard Florida IPN monitoring agreements.
The key is to consult with an experienced Florida nursing license defense attorney as soon as possible, preferably before you contact IPN Florida and before any licensing action begins. Attorney Jonathan Rose can help prepare your defense and negotiate an appropriate option before IPN Florida becomes mandatory.
Fight for Your Career
If you can show the Board that the reported incident was an isolated situation, that you are safe to practice nursing, that you do not need active supervision, and that a lengthy period of monitoring would not benefit you, then you are in a good position to keep your nursing license and your career without enduring the restrictions, expense, and long-term monitoring of the standard Florida IPN contract agreement.
Attorney Jonathan Rose will help you fight for your career. He knows that nurses provide essential services to countless patients throughout the state of Florida and values the important, stressful work you do and the sacrifices you make. He will fight aggressively to protect your reputation, assets, and career and help alleviate the stress of fighting complaints, accusations, and nurse licensing claims that are often unfounded.