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General Laws

Section 80F. (a) The board shall establish a rehabilitation program designed to assist nurses, whose competency has been impaired because of substance abuse disorders, to return to practice. Such program shall be designed in such a manner so that the public health and safety will not be endangered.

(b) The rehabilitation program shall: (1) serve as a voluntary alternative to traditional disciplinary actions; (2) establish criteria for the acceptance, denial, or termination of registered nurses and licensed practical nurses in said program; and (3) establish an outreach program to help identify registered and licensed practical nurses who are substance abusers and to educate them about said rehabilitation program.

Only those registered nurses and licensed practical nurses who have requested rehabilitation and supervision shall participate in said program.

(c) The board shall appoint one or more rehabilitation evaluation committees consisting of nine members, two of whom shall be registered nurses with demonstrated experience in the field of substance use disorders or psychiatric mental health nursing; two of whom shall be licensed practical nurses with demonstrated experience in the field of substance use disorders or psychiatric mental health nursing; one of whom shall be a registered nurse employed as a nursing service administrator; one of whom shall be a registered or licensed practical nurse who has recovered from drug or alcohol addiction and has been drug and alcohol free for a minimum of two years; and three of whom shall be representatives of the public who are knowledgeable about the field of substance abuse or mental health. Each committee shall elect a chairperson and a vice chairperson. The members of the committee shall serve for such terms as the board shall determine but in no case shall such term exceed four years. All members of the committee who are nurses shall hold licenses as nurses in the commonwealth for the duration of their terms. No board member may serve on a committee.

(d) The board shall employ nurse specialists with demonstrated professional expertise in the field of substance abuse disorders to serve as supervisors of participants in the rehabilitation program. Such supervisors shall serve as a liaison among the board, the committee, approved treatment programs and providers, and licensees. All information obtained by a supervisor pursuant to this section shall be exempt from disclosure and shall be confidential subject to the provisions of subsections (f) and (g).

(e) All rehabilitation evaluation committee findings shall be submitted to the board as recommendations and shall be subject to final approval of the board. Each committee shall have the following duties and responsibilities:

(1) To evaluate, according to the guidelines prescribed by the board, those registered nurses or licensed practical nurses who request participation in the program and to consider the recommendations of the nurse specialist supervisor in the admission of the registered nurse or licensed practical nurse to the rehabilitation program.

(2) To review and designate those treatment facilities and services to which rehabilitation program participants may be referred.

(3) To receive and review information concerning a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse participating in the program.

(4) To consider in the case of each rehabilitation program participant whether the nurse may with safety continue or resume the practice of nursing.

(5) To call meetings as necessary to consider the requests of registered nurses or licensed practical nurses to participate in the rehabilitation program, and to consider reports regarding rehabilitation program participants.

(6) To prepare reports to be submitted to the board.

(7) To set forth in writing for each rehabilitation program participant an individualized rehabilitation program with requirements for supervision and surveillance.

(8) To provide information to nurses requesting participation in the program.

(f) Each registered nurse or licensed practical nurse who requests participation in a rehabilitation program shall agree to cooperate with the rehabilitation program recommended by a rehabilitation evaluation committee and approved by the board. Any failure to comply with the provisions of a rehabilitation program may result in termination of the participant from the rehabilitation program. The name and license number of a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse terminated for failure to comply with the provisions of a rehabilitation program shall be reported to the board.

(g) After a committee in its discretion has determined that a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse has been rehabilitated and the rehabilitation program is completed, the board shall seal all records pertaining to the nurse’s participation in the rehabilitation program. No record shall be sealed sooner than five years from the nurse’s date of entry into the rehabilitation program. All board and committee records and records of a proceeding pertaining to the rehabilitation of a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse in the rehabilitation program shall be kept confidential and are not subject to discovery.

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