Skip Navigation or Skip to Content

Posted May 12th, 2014 in Legal Insights

Minnesota Buckling Down on Nurses with Substance Abuse Problems

Will nurses with addiction problems step forward for help despite the potential of greater job ramifications or conceal their problems? This question looms large in Minnesota as the State Legislature is on the verge of allowing new, harsher penalties by the Board of Nursing for handling nurses with substance abuse problems, a reaction to a series of investigative reports revealing that many nurses had been allowed to remain in a caregiving role after failing out of the state’s monitoring program. Under the pending legislation, nurses who fail out of the monitoring program can be suspended for up to 60 days, and have their nursing license revoked. These new provisions will have a chilling effect on nurses who otherwise would’ve come forward voluntarily, says Nilan Johnson Lewis healthcare attorney Careen Martin, who works with health insurers and hospital networks. “This will make Minnesota one of the more strict states in terms of willingness to deal with healthcare professionals with dependency problems, which can be a big issue due to the easy access these professionals have to drugs and medications,” says Martin. “By and large, most participants in the state’s Health Services Professional Program come forward voluntarily. Now that anything but success in the program could mean losing their license, even for administrative reasons such as missing a single test, I think we’ll see a sharp drop in the number of those enrolled.” Veena Iyer, a labor and employment attorney also with Nilan Johnson Lewis adds that this will change the equation for healthcare employers. “The risk for employing a nurse who is chemically dependent will go up, so I think we’ll see less tolerance by employers on this issue going forward.” Contact Careen Martin at or 612-305-7691 or Veena Iyer at or (612) 305-7695.

Scroll to the top of the web page anchor link.