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Handbook of Operating Procedures

Substance Abuse

Policy Number: 173

Subject:

Substance Abuse

Scope:

Employees, students and trainees (including residents and fellows)

Date Reviewed:
September 2018
Responsible Office:
Human Resources; Office of the Executive Vice-President & Chief Academic Officer
Responsible Executive:
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer; Executive Vice President & Chief Academic Officer

I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston ("university") is committed to maintaining an environment free from substance abuse in accordance with applicable federal and state laws. The university expects impaired employees, students and trainees to seek help voluntarily and to assume responsibility for their professional and personal conduct. In any case where an employee, student or trainee causes harm to or appears to endanger the safety of himself or herself or others, he or she will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with university policy.

Medical residents, dental school residents in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and clinical fellows employed by The University of Texas Medical Foundation should also refer to the Resident Impairment Policy found in The University of Texas Medical Foundation Graduate Medical Education Resident Handbook

Employees, students and trainees are prohibited from:

  • Unauthorized purchasing, manufacturing, distributing, possessing, selling, storing or use of an illegal drug or controlled substance, while they are working, on the premises or property owned or controlled by the university, on university business, participating in university activities or in vehicles used for university business. Controlled substances may be used in research settings, provided the principal investigator has acquired the appropriate licensing and follows the requirements in the Chemical Hygiene Plan. Further information can be found in HOOP 90, Safe Use of Potentially Hazardous Materials in the Laboratory and HOOP 79, Purchase of Drugs, Pharmaceuticals and Controlled Substances;
  • Using alcohol in a manner that adversely affects job performance or the safety of other trainees, employees, visitors, or patients. This includes the authorized use of alcohol at official university functions (see HOOP 12, Official Function Expenditures (Entertainment)), on university business, participating in university activities, or on premises or property owned or controlled by the university, that may adversely affect the safety of any other person.  Use, possession and distribution of alcohol while on the premises of the university or at events sponsored by the university is governed by HOOP 9, Alcoholic Beverages;
  • Using prescription or over-the-counter medications without heed to warnings about impact on performance or safety;
  • Distributing drugs or controlled substances obtained pursuant to a prescription, except by a duly licensed and certified person, while on duty or on the premises or property owned or controlled by the university; and
  • Using alcohol, an illegal drug or a controlled substance while not on duty that adversely affects job performance or may adversely affect the health and safety of trainees, employees, visitors, or patients.

II. PROCEDURE

A. Referral and Treatment

1. Self-referral

University employees, students and trainees are encouraged to obtain assistance for the treatment of chemical dependence. Such assistance may be provided through UTHealth's Office of Employee Assistance Programs, Student Health and Counseling Services, the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, private physicians or community agencies with expertise in treating chemical dependence.

2. Observed Impairment

In accordance with HOOP 218, Fitness for Duty/Fitness for Participation (Employees), co-workers or others whose observations lead them to question an employee's fitness for duty, must report their observations to the applicable supervisor. The supervisor will take action in accordance with HOOP 218, Fitness for Duty/Fitness for Participation (Employees).

Students or others whose observations lead them to question a student's fitness for participation in university activities, must report their observations to the applicable school's Student Affairs office or other dean’s designee. The applicable Associate/Assistant Dean for Student Affairs or other dean’s designee will take action in accordance with HOOP 163, Fitness for Participation (Students).

Additionally, the dean may have other mechanisms for prevention, evaluation, referral, and monitoring of students for whom there is a reasonable suspicion of impairment due to substance abuse. Deans' offices may be contacted for more information.

As noted above, medical residents, dental school residents in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and clinical fellows employed by The University of Texas Medical Foundation should refer to the Resident Impairment Policy.

B. Education

Annually, the Office of Employee Assistance Programs will make available to all employees and trainees educational materials which include standards of conduct, a description of the various laws regarding alcohol and drugs, a description of the health risks of drug and alcohol abuse, a description of counseling and treatment programs available, and a copy of this policy.  Student Health and Counseling Services will make the same information available to students.

C. Reporting of Criminal Matters and Impairment

1. Reporting Requirements for Students
a. Drug-Related Criminal Convictions

Students convicted under a criminal statute for a drug-related offense are required to notify their dean or the dean's designated representative not later than five days after such conviction.  Students convicted of substance-abuse-related crimes which occur on premises or property owned or controlled by the university will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, in accordance with HOOP 186, Student Conduct and Discipline

b. Other Criminal Matters

Students arrested for, charged with, or convicted of non-drug related offenses must report in accordance with HOOP 160, Criminal Background Checks and will be treated in accordance with HOOP 186, Student Conduct and Discipline.

2. Impaired Students
a. Impaired Student Nurses

If the Dean of the Cizik School of Nursing or his or her designee has reasonable cause to suspect that the ability of a professional nursing student to perform the services of the nursing profession would be, or would reasonably be expected to be, impaired by chemical dependency, the Dean must cause to be submitted a signed, written report to the Texas Board of Nursing (Board) identifying the student and providing any additional information required by the Board.

Any licensed nurse associated with the university as an employee or student, who has reasonable cause to suspect that the ability of a professional nursing student to perform the services of the nursing profession would be, or would reasonably be expected to be, impaired by chemical dependency must either:

  • submit a signed, written report to the Board identifying the student, and provide additional information required by the Board; or
  • report the student to the Dean of the Cizik School of Nursing or his or her designee.
b. Other Impaired Students

All other impaired students should be treated in accordance with HOOP 163, Fitness for Participation (Students).

3. Reporting Requirements for Employees and Fellows Employed by the University

Employees and fellows employed by the university convicted under a criminal statute for a drug-related offense occurring on property or premises owned or controlled by the university are required to notify Human Resources-Employee Relations not later than five calendar days after the conviction. Human Resources – Employee Relations must inform the Office of Institutional Compliance immediately after receiving notice of such conviction. For employees and fellows working on certain federally funded contracts and grants, the Office of Institutional Compliance is responsible for ensuring the contracting agency is notified within ten calendar days after receiving notice that an employee or fellow has been convicted of a drug-related criminal offense.

Employees or fellows employed by the university convicted of a felony offense related to use, possession, dispersion, distribution or manufacture of an illegal drug occurring on property or premises owned or controlled by the university will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination or dismissal.

All other arrests, criminal charges and convictions will be handled in accordance with HOOP 160, Criminal Background Checks and applicable disciplinary policies (HOOP 44, Faculty Reappointment and Non-Reappointment, HOOP 133, Faculty Termination, HOOP 153, Termination of Appointment: Administrative and Professional, HOOP 187, Discipline and Dismissal of Classified Employees).

4. Requirements for Residents and Clinical Fellows

Medical residents, dental school residents in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and clinical fellows employed by The University of Texas Medical Foundation should refer to the Resident Impairment Policy for information regarding impairment and reporting requirements. 

D. Biennial Review

The Office of Institutional Compliance will review the university's drug and alcohol abuse prevention program(s) every two years in accordance with applicable law and regulation.

III. CONTACTS

    • Human Resources (employees and fellows employed by the university with questions regarding this policy)
    • 713-500-3180
    • https://www.uth.edu/hr/department/employee-relations/
    • Applicable School Student Affairs Offices (for students with questions regarding this policy)
    • Student Health and Counseling Services
    • 713-500-5171
    • https://www.uth.edu/studenthealth/
    • Office of Employee Assistance Programs
    • 713-500-3327
    • https://inside.uth.edu/ut-counseling/index.htm