(WEHT) – The Indiana State Board of Nursing has agreed to a settlement with the Department of Justice (DOJ). The settlement is meant to resolve claims that the nursing board violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to the DOJ, the settlement agrees to allow nurses with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) to remain on their medications while participating in the Indiana State Nursing Assistance Program. The medication must be prescribed by a licensed practitioner as a part of a medically necessary treatment plan along with recovery monitoring agreements like the assistance program.
“Indiana may not deny individuals life-saving medications, including medications that treat opioid use disorder, based on stereotypes and misinformation,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Requiring nurses to stop taking prescribed medication as a condition of maintaining a nursing license violates the ADA, and not only creates barriers to recovery, but inappropriately limits employment opportunities based on disability.”
The program is meant to help rehabilitate and monitor nurses with OUD and is required in order for their nursing license to be reinstated or stay active. Medicines like methadone and buprenorphine have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective to treat OUD to help diminish the effects of physical dependency on opioids.
Part of the settlement agreement states that the nursing board must revise its policies to ensure nurses taking OUD medication are not subject to discriminatory conditions and/ or terms. They must also pay $70,000 in damages to the complainant and report its compliance to the United States periodically.
“The opioid epidemic has greatly impacted professionals and families of all walks of life, and Indiana nurses have the right to seek medically approved treatment for opioid use disorder under federal law,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers for the Southern District of Indiana. “Following the Justice Department’s findings and the parties’ settlement agreement, Indiana must now enact policies to ensure that Hoosier nurses will not be forced to choose between their recovery and their livelihoods.”