Minnesota Bill Would Require Immediate Suspension for Nurses Failing a State Diversion Program

A Minnesota legislator introduced a bill this week that would require the immediate suspension of any licensed health professional failing to comply with a state program that monitors drug abuse and mental illness. The bill comes in the wake of numerous reports of healthcare professionals continuing to practice despite failing out of a diversion program.

Minnesota’s Health Professionals Services Program is intended for regulated healthcare professionals who are unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety by reason of illness, use of alcohol, drugs, chemicals, or any other materials, or as a result of any mental, physical, or psychological condition.  The diversion program permits participants to continue to practice their profession provided the participants enroll in the state monitoring program.

Last year, numerous reports surfaced of healthcare professionals in the state who continued to practice despite failing out of a state monitoring program.  According to a recent article, the State Nursing Board even expressed concern that some program participants were skipping or failing drug tests without consequence.

The bill would require an immediate suspension of any participant who is in non-compliance with the program guidelines, including failing a drug test.  The suspension would be in effect for a maximum of 60 days while the appropriate licensing board conducts a prompt investigation.  According to the bill’s chief sponsor, it is one of several bills she plans to introduce to address “problem nurses” who abuse drugs/alcohol and/or steal drugs from their workplaces. 

With state legislatures across the nation returning to session, employers in the healthcare industry should be aware of proposed legislation that might affect their employees.  To assist in this process, Littler’s Healthcare Blog will continue to monitor this and any other healthcare-related bills and report on any that become enacted.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.