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New Texas Nurse Reporting Rules

Austin Texas: The recent Legislative Session, has significantly expanded reporting requirements relating to peer assistance. As of September 1, 2007, a person or entity required to report a nurse, when the nurse is impaired or suspected of being impaired by chemical dependency, mental illness or diminished mental capacity, has a mandatory duty to report the nurse to the BON if it is believed that the impaired nurse committed a practice violation.

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Under the Nursing Practice Act (NPA), duty to report provisions extend to: nursing peer review committees, employers, state agencies, nursing education programs and the Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses (TPAPN).

Previously, a person or entity, who was required to report a nurse because the nurse was impaired or suspected of being impaired by chemical dependency or mental illness, was permitted to report the nurse to an approved peer assistance program, i.e., TPAPN, instead of the BON. They could also request review by a nursing peer review committee.

TPAPN must now inform parties referring nurses of their obligation to report an impaired or suspected impaired nurse that may have violated the NPA to the BON. TPAPN also forwards referrals to the BON.

Depending upon the severity and chronicity of events, the nurse may be:

a) allowed the opportunity to participate in TPAPN and the BON is notified of any future non-participation or noncompliance;
b) allowed the opportunity to participate in TPAPN while BON investigates; or
c) permitted to participate in TPAPN and BON investigation and possible licensure discipline will ensue.

(TPAPN) has also implimented a new program that promotes an alternative pathway for impaired nurses. The new program – called the Extended Evaluation Program or EEP – was developed by TPAPN at the request of and in cooperation with the Texas Board of Nursing (BON).

The EEP is primarily intended for nurses who have a one-time positive drug test without any other practice issues and who fail to receive a substance abuse or substance dependency diagnosis.

This new program is an extended evaluation program, helping to screen those who truly do not have a problem with these substances and for those who are in need of more structure and support, i.e., TPAPN.

Essential features of the EEP include:

• $250 enrollment fee
• Signing necessary consents for exchange of communication
• Minimum 12 months of participation
• Must work a minimum of 6 months in nursing during participation
• 12 months continuous abstinence from all illicit substances, controlled substances, i.e., Rx drugs and alcohol
• Agreement to undergo 12 months of random drug testing
• Agree to pay for the necessary drug testing
If you are interested in obtaining more information about the EEP call 1-800-288-5528 or email tpapn@texasnurses.org.

To obtain more information about TPAPN or to make a referral call 1-800-288-5528 or on the web: www.tpapn.org.

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