The Justice Department found that the Indiana State Board of Nursing (Nursing Board) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by prohibiting nurses who take medication to Treat Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) from participating in the Indiana State Nursing Assistance Program. The program assists in rehabilitating and monitoring nurses with substance use disorders, and is often required for these nurses to maintain an active license or have one reinstated. The letter of findings asks the Nursing Board to work with the Justice Department to resolve the civil rights violations identified during the course of its investigation.
The department opened an investigation in response to a complaint from a nurse alleging that she was denied participation in the State Nursing Assistance Program because she takes prescribed medication for OUD. The investigation corroborated that the Nursing Board prohibits program participants from using OUD medication and that tapering the nurse off her medication would come with a significant risk of relapse and harm.
Methadone and buprenorphine (including brand names Subutex and Suboxone) are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat OUD. According to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), methadone and buprenorphine help diminish the effects of physical dependency on opioids. When taken as prescribed, these medications are safe and effective.
Under Title II of the ADA, the department provided the Nursing Board with written notice of the supporting facts for these findings and the remedial measures necessary to address them. For more information on the ADA, please call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov. For more information on the Civil Rights Division, please visit www.justice.gov/crt. The letter can be viewed here.