The U.S. Department of Justice has found the Indiana State Board of Nursing violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by discriminating against nurses with Opioid Use Disorder. The Justice Department says the nursing board disregarded the rights of nurses who are prescribed medication for OUD, such as methadone, by preventing them from participating in the Indiana State Nursing Assistance Program.
The program assists in rehabilitating and monitoring nurses with substance use disorders. It is often required for these nurses to maintain an active license or have one reinstated.
The department opened an investigation in response to a complaint from a nurse alleging that she was denied participation in the State Nursing Assistance Program because she takes prescribed medication for OUD. The investigation corroborated that the Nursing Board prohibits program participants from using OUD medication and that tapering the nurse off her medication would come with a significant risk of relapse and harm.
“Recovery and monitoring programs must allow individuals to use proven medications that support their recovery, including prescribed medications that treat Opioid Use Disorder,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Refusing to allow individuals to participate in a required support program because of their disabilities violates the ADA and makes it harder for individuals to secure and maintain jobs and livelihoods.”
The DOJ says the nursing board must work with the Justice Department to resolve the civil rights violations identified during its investigation.