Indiana News

Feds find Indiana program discriminated against nurses taking opioid meds

Mihaela Anghel, a Romanian nurse, gets the first COVID-19 vaccine administered in the country in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020. Anghel is the nurse who registered and processed Romania's first official COVID-19 patient, on Feb. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Justice Department has found that the Indiana State Board of Nursing violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Nursing Board prevented nurses who take medication to treat opioid use disorder from participating in the Indiana State Nursing Assistance Program, the Justice Department says.

A nurse made a complaint stating that she was allegedly denied participation in the State Nursing Assistance Program for taking prescribed medicine for the disorder.

“Opioid Use Disorder is a difficult disease that impacts people in every occupation. Patients must not be forced to choose between medically approved treatments and their livelihoods,” U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers for the Southern District of Indiana said in a statement issued Friday. “We will work closely with our partners in the Civil Rights Division to ensure that the Americans with Disabilities Act is appropriately enforced.”

“Recovery and monitoring programs must allow individuals to use proven medications that support their recovery, including prescribed medications that treat Opioid Use Disorder,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “Refusing to allow individuals to participate in a required support program because of their disabilities violates the ADA and makes it harder for individuals to secure and maintain jobs and livelihoods. Removing discriminatory barriers to employment is an important priority of the Civil Rights Division.”

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse says in a statement that medications for opioid use disorder are safe when taken as prescribed.

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 ada.gov.