Substance Use in Registered Nurses: Where Legal, Medical, and Personal Collide


      Registered Nurses (RNs) who are reported by their employer, or interface with the criminal justice system due to substance use, will typically appear before a board of nursing. In some states, this appearance becomes a legal record with documentation available to the public.


      The purpose of this study is to qualitatively analyze the court documents of RNs whose licenses were placed on probationary, suspended, or revoked statuses by the Indiana State Board of Nursing (ISBN).


      A descriptive content analysis was conducted on 236 court documents associated with 51 RNs. The study presents the typical paths of RNs appearing before the ISBN.


      From the qualitative data, five themes emerged: (a) critical junctures experienced by RNs during the disciplinary process; (b) emerging groups who appear before the ISBN; (c) individual contexts versus standardized discipline; (d) deliberate diversion, deceit, and deception; and (e) significant threat to public safety and quality health care.


      Understanding regulatory oversight of substance use in RNs in Indiana offers potential directions for targeted interventions. These include identifying periods of vulnerability and understanding the dynamics of appearances before the ISBN across time.


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      Karen J. Foli, PhD, RN, FAAN, is Associate Professor and Director, PhD in Nursing Program, at Purdue University School of Nursing, West Lafayette, Indiana.


      Blake Reddick, BSN, is Graduate Student, Purdue University School of Nursing.


      Lingsong Zhang, PhD, is Associate Professor, Department of Statistics, and Faculty Affiliate Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, Purdue University.


      Nancy Edwards, PhD, ANP-BC, FAANP, is Professor, Director Adult-Gerontology Program, Purdue University School of Nursing.

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          As is standard in scholarly publishing, NCSBN’s Journal of Nursing Regulation (JNR) requires its authors to disclose any potential conflicts of interest (COI). Although COI information has always been collected by our staff in order to support editors’ review of the paper, it was not our standard practice to publish COI statements in each article. In this issue, JNR is retrospectively publishing the COI statements, which were collected with the below papers at submission, in order to make potential COI’s transparent to readers, as well as editors.
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