Barb works in a private group home. Jamie, a competent 20 year-old resident with cerebral palsy, has been staying with his parents for the past week. When he returns in the evening with his mother, Barb notices that he seems nervous and quieter than usual. The support worker, while helping him get ready for bed, notices bruises on his arms and legs. His mother explains he fell at home. Concerned, the support worker alerts Barb. After assessing Jamie and talking with him privately, Barb believes he may have been physically abused. Barb knows she must make sure Jamie is safe and get him any needed medical assessment and treatment.
Since Jamie is a vulnerable adult, she believes he is at risk of harm. She wonders what her professional, legal and ethical responsibilities are.
Barb is unsure of her responsibility and can’t find any policy. She shares the situation with her manager. (Professional Standard 3.1)
Barb learns that while there is no legal requirement to disclose, the Adult Guardianship Act, Part 3, allows her to disclose this without Jamie’s consent. Under the Act, anyone with information indicating an adult is abused and unable to get assistance may report this to a designated agency. (Privacy and Confidentiality principle 1)
Situations like this are complex. Nursing actions will depend on several factors including:
Ethical decision-making requires accurate information, consultation, and judgment. The Privacy and Confidentiality Practice Standard provides direction for nurses when faced with complex situations. For further information or discussion, contact CRNBC Practice Support.
For further information on the Standards of Practice or professional practice matters, contact us:
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