Being confronted with allegations of substance abuse or a psychiatric disorder can lead to a cascade of events that can wreak havoc on a nurse’s career and even jeopardize a nurse's professional license. However, in many instances the nurse has a choice: accept a referral to participate in the Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses (TPAPN) or face being reported to the Texas Board of Nursing.
TPAPN is a voluntary, confidential program that consists of total abstinence monitored by compliance with treatment recommendations, specific return-to-work restrictions, self-help meetings, and random drug tests. It is available to nurses with substance abuse or dependency, and those who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders, major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder.
TPAPN has recently extended the length of required participation in the program from two years to three years for licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) and registered nurses (RNs) and from three years to five years for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). While this change was made in light of research indicating that the longer-term monitoring results in positive behavioral changes for recovery, it means a longer period of consequences—and a longer period of paying for the costs of treatment and drug screenings—for a participating nurse.
Other recent changes to the program have been made to make the consequences less onerous for participants. These changes include the ability to potentially continue nursing practice upon entering the program, the possibility of working night shifts, and shorter period of delay in returning to work for a nurse who has a short-term prescription for a controlled substance that is due to a medical condition.
If you are a nurse who is facing allegations of substance abuse or dependency or a psychiatric disorder, you do not need to face your options alone. Contact Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law, an experienced Texas nursing license defense attorney who will help you weigh your options and reach a successful conclusion.