Recently I have had a flurry of cases where Texas nurses are accused of violating their Agreed Board Orders or their Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses (TPAPN) contracts due to positive Ethylglucuronide (EtG) tests in the 300 to 500 ng/ml range. In each case the Nurse denied consuming alcohol and corroborating evidence suggested they were sober; nevertheless, TPAPN expelled them from participation and a subsequent BNE investigation ensued against their nursing license.
This is clearly contrary to the admissibility of EtG testing in Court or as valid scientific evidence for the Board of Nurse Examiners to consider regarding these individuals knowing or intentional use of ethyl alcohol (ETOH). Please see my blog post: “What is EtG”. Moreover, it is a clear abuse of the power of both TPAPN and the BNE as they have decided their interpretations and determinations regarding EtG testing validity and use are superior to that of the Courts, SAMSHA and the scientific community at large.
Properly utilized, EtG testing can be an excellent screening tool to confront someone about a positive test. Oftentimes the initial confrontation will yield to an admission of a return to active drinking. However, when denied and all circumstances suggest that sobriety is in tact the EtG test in this range is insufficient in and of itself to prove alcohol consumption.
The BNE, however, is actively pursuing these cases in an effort to exact a surrender or active suspension of each nurse’s license. Moreover, one Client came to me after they had submitted to Board Staff’s request to undergo a forensic psychological evaluation and polygraph test. Although the test(s) yielded abstinence, Board Staff maintains other evidence developed during the psychological testing yielded information which shows the individual is otherwise unfit to possess a license to practice professional nursing in the State of Texas. The result –Formal Charges.
The bottom line is nurses who have been subjected to a BNE or TPAPN test for EtG and have tested positive should contact an attorney immediately for advice. Statements made to TPAPN or a Board investigator will be used by Board Staff against the licensee to pursue misconduct. Moreover, the inevitable request for a polygraph test is forthcoming and should be suitably denied. Please see my post titled – "The Polygraph Test: Just Say No to the BNE".