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What is the Intervention Project for Nurses?

What is the Intervention Project for Nurses? | Treatment Center for Nurses with Addiction

Nurses are an important part of the medical profession and are invaluable to the many patients that they help.  Addiction is a problem faced by many professionals, including nurses.  Since addiction can interfere with work, and possibly create an unsafe environment for nurses, the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN)  was created in Florida in 1983 through legislative action. Their program provides close monitoring of nurses in Florida that have abused alcohol or drugs.  

The Mission of IPN

IPN’s mission is to ensure public health by providing intervention and close monitoring to nurses that have abused drugs or alcohol, or have a mental or physical condition that could impair their treatment of patients.  They have several objectives:

  • Protect Public Health. Their main purpose is to protect the public health by providing intervention and rehabilitation to nurses that have abused drug or alcohol, since its abuse could potentially inhibit safe practice. Addiction affects all areas of a person’s life, and it is no different in the nursing profession.  A nurse that is under the influence of drugs or alcohol presents a safety hazard to the patients under his/her care.  By providing resources and treatment, IPN can help protect the public health.  

  • Provide Rehabilitation. Nurses that abuse drugs or alcohol need to seek addiction treatment.  IPN helps nurses seek appropriate treatment and monitors that treatment to ensure that it is successful before the nurse is able to return to work.  

  • Increase Retention. IPN hopes that treatment and monitoring will help nurses return to their field and continue to help patients.  It would be unfortunate for trained professionals to be unable to practice due to addiction.  With proper treatment, it is the hope that these professionals can stay in their chosen career.  

  • Facilitate Early Intervention. The sooner treatment begins, the better.  IPN hopes to make it easier for nurses to seek treatment, and hopefully get help before the addiction causes problems in their work.  

  • Prevent the Nurse from Practicing. It is incredibly important to protect the public by keeping professionals from practicing when they have a drug or alcohol problem.  For this reason, IPN requires the nurses to stop practicing until it is proven that he/she can safely work.  

  • Alternative Disciplinary Process. The traditional disciplinary process can be costly and time consuming.  With early intervention and monitoring, IPN hopes to provide a less expensive process that will allow the nurse to return to practice, while also protecting public safety.  If the nurse is referred to IPN and completes the program successfully, no discipline may need to be given by the Department of Health (DOH).

  • Create a Statewide Resource Network. IPN has created a network of providers where nurses can seek treatment.  They work with treatment centers and facilities to provide credentials to facilities that meet their quality standards.  

  • Provide Confidential Consultations. They provide a resource where nurses can receive a confidential consultation and seek treatment.  These confidential consultations allow nurses privacy in learning their options and hopefully encourage more nurses to seek help.  

IPN Credentials

IPN does not provide treatment.  Rather, IPN refers nurses to credentialed treatment centers or facilities.  IPN reviews the facilities and ensures that they meet their standards before certifying them as credentialed treatment facilities.  These facilities must continue to maintain the high standards set by IPN in order to retain their credentials.  They must also notify IPN if any nurses in their care leave treatment against medical advice.  

Reporting Nurse Impairment

Under Florida law, all licensed nurses are required to report suspected impairment to IPN or the DOH.  This is important because drugs and alcohol can impair a nurse’s ability to provide care.  

  • Signs of Impairment. Signs of impairment include: missing days of work, decreased competence in patient care, change of appearance, change in behavior, change in emotions.  While impairment may look different in each person, it is important to report any signs of impairment since the safety of patients is at risk.  

  • Reporting Impairment. Impairment can be reported to the IPN and/or the DOH.  If impairment is only reported to IPN then it may be possible that disciplinary action will not have to be taken.  The benefit of working with the IPN is that all treatment is confidential and not reported to the DOH.  The nurse can seek help, patients can be kept safe, and nurses can work once they have been treated and evaluated as able to return to work.  If reported to the DOH, the disciplinary process may continue to go on, but the IPN can work as an advocated and show that treatment is taking place.

  • Disciplinary Action. Each case will be evaluated separately, and depending on the situation and whether treatment has been sought, disciplinary action may or may not be taken.  The DOH will review each case and determine the appropriate action.  IPN can help nurses involved in a DOH hearing by advocating for them and showing that they have entered treatment.  

Signs of Impairment in the Workplace

Sometimes nurses may have access to controlled substances while at work, and this puts those that have a drug problem at risk.  The following are signs to watch for:
  • Repeatedly volunteers to be the medication nurse.

  • Signs out more controlled substances than co-workers.

  • Often reports spilled medications or waste.

  • Does not obtain signatures.

  • Discrepancies in end of shit medication counts.

  • Evidence of medications that have been tampered with.

  • Going off alone after obtaining medications.

  • Increased patient complaints of unrelieved pain.

  • Defensive when questions about medication.

Addiction Treatment for Nurses

Anyone that suffers from addiction should seek treatment immediately.  Addiction can have detrimental impact on life and a career.  Time and time again, addiction has caused problems at home and at work.  In some professions, a mistake at work caused by addiction can have serious consequences.  Nurses often work in stressful environments where a mistake can mean the difference between life and death.  It is important for a nurse with an addiction to seek treatment immediately.  IPN’s mission to to protect the public health by helping nurses get the treatment they need.  With appropriate treatment, nurses can successfully return to the work they love, and help the patients that need their care.  If you are a nurse with an addiction problem, contact IPN for support and treatment options.  


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