Legislation targets all drug-addicted healthcare workers, not just nurses

NASHVILLE, TN (WJHL) – Two local lawmakers have officially filed legislation meant to protect patients from all drug-addicted healthcare workers, not just nurses.

The bill, filed Thursday by Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-District 3) and Rep. John Holsclaw (R-District 4), would require the State of Tennessee to take emergency action against any licensed healthcare practitioner who fails a drug test and can’t show a lawful prescription and legitimate medical reason for using the drug. That emergency action would result in the temporary suspension of his or her license pending an investigation, according to the proposal.

“I want this to be as simple as possible,” Sen. Crowe said. “Simple means you fail this test and you go into this process and you can’t practice. We don’t want them working until this is all figured out.”

The filing of the legislation follows our Community Watchdog investigation into state disciplinary delays. Our investigation uncovered a state failure that allowed drug-addicted nurses to keep their licenses, find new jobs and put more patients at risk while waiting on state disciplinary action.

“We want immediate suspension of their license; no time delay,” Rep. Holsclaw said. “It’s the right thing to do. If you save one life this is well worth it.”

The Tennessee Nurses Association continues to monitor the legislation.

“As an association we are very concerned about patient safety and the growing problem of addiction among both healthcare providers and the population at large,” Tennessee Nurses Association Executive Director Sharon Adkins said. “We’re also very cognizant of the need for due process for individual practitioners. We have been working with Sen. Crowe on this bill. The work is not done yet. We are still continuing to work with the attorneys and will continue to work with him and monitor the bill. We were pleased that it listed all healthcare practitioners rather than just nursing, because we think this is certaInly an issue among healthcare providers.”

Lawmakers plan on working with each profession to make sure every person impacted is guaranteed their due process rights.

Copyright WJHL 2017. All rights reserved.

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