The Florida Board of Nursing Intervention Project for Nurses (“IPN”) is designed to maintain public health and safety through a program which closely monitors nurses who are unsafe to practice because of drugs and alcohol usage and/or some psychological, psychiatric and physical conditions. The goals of the program are:
- Give an opportunity to retain nurses in the nursing profession
- To give affected nurses a program to be rehabilitated in a non-punitive, therapeutic and confidential process.
- To provide a confidential consultations for Nurse Managers and cost effective alternative to the traditional disciplinary process.
- To have the nurse immediately withdraw from practice till the IPN is assured that he/she can safely return to nursing practice.
- To provide for an early intervention and thus reduce the time between the nurse acknowledging the problem and hi/her entering a recovery program.
- To create a statewide resource network for referring nurses to the appropriate services.
Impairment is that condition which manifests from the use of mind/mood altering substances, distorted thought processes existing in the psychologically impaired or physical conditions which prevent the nurses from practicing safe patient care.
It is characterized by the nurse’s inability at carrying out their professional duties and responsibilities in reasonable manner which is consistent with nursing standards. This guide however focuses only on impairment created by chemical dependency.
Problems related with chemical dependency cannot be resolved without any effective intervention or treatment. Co-workers tend to feel helpless and frustrated while staff morale deteriorates while the chemically impaired nurse is more impaired.
With the progress of chemical dependency, the potential for compromising patient care increases. Consequently, decision making, cognitive functioning, judgment, reaction time and the capacity to handle stress all get increasingly affected.
- Who can make a report to the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN)?
Anyone who suspects a nurse’s impaired ability at providing safe nursing care can report the nurse to IPN or/and the Department of Health (“DOH”). According to Florida’s Mandatory Reporting Law, licensed nurses have to report any suspected practice impairment to IPN and/or DOH.
- Does participating in the IPN protect a nurse’s license from disciplining by Florida Board of Nursing?
The inability to practice safe nursing due to alcohol, drugs, chemicals, some mental condition or possessing or distributing controlled drugs for reasons other than legitimate purposes violates the Nurse Practice Act and can result in the Florida Board of Nursing taking disciplinary action against a nurse’s license.
If nurses reported only to IPN agree to participate in IPN and successfully complete it, the file is closed and held in confidence without taking any disciplinary action. If the nurses reported only to IPN do not agree to participate and do not successfully complete IPN, information in IPN’s possession is forwarded to the DOH which may lead to disciplinary action if deemed appropriate. Sometimes, the nurse is reported to both IPN and DOH wherein the disciplinary process is started and may lead to disciplinary action.
- Can nurses participating in the IPN still practice nursing?
Initially during the evaluation phase and any resulting treatment, the nurse may have to refrain from nursing practice and resume practice only after receiving authorization by IPN. This approval is based on recommendations from approved treatment providers in consultation with IPN staff. Generally, practice limitations are needed during the early phase of return to practice.
- Why should nurses choose to participate in IPN?
The staff at IPN can help the nurse receive the right treatment and provide continuing care and support. IPN participation is an alternative to disciplinary action by the Florida Board of Nursing for nurses who have violated the Nurse Practice Act.
An IPN representative will be present for nurses who are already involved in the DOH disciplinary process. It is when the nurse’s case is heard before the Florida Board of Nursing, that IPN will confirm that the nurse is engaged in the recovery process.
- Will nurses get evaluated and treated by IPN?
While IPN does not evaluate and treat the nurse, it does provide referrals to board-approved psychiatrist, addictionists and/or other treatment professionals who are located through the State of Florida. All referrals are made to providers who are located geographically closest to the nurse’s place of residence.
- What are the IPN participation costs/fees?
Unlike some other professional alternatives to discipline programs, IPN does not charge any participation fees. The nurse only has to pay for all required evaluation and treatment costs. Nurses who have to submit to random drug testing have to pay for all laboratory tests which are performed.