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Acting on concerns about practice

What's your responsibility?

What behaviours are of concern?

Concerns may be related to unethical conduct, incompetent practice or impaired practice. Unethical conduct is behaviour which violates ethical standards and expectations of professional behaviour. Incompetence is a pattern of behaviour that demonstrates a lack of ability to meet the Standards of Practice. Impaired practice may be a physical or mental ailment, an emotional disturbance or a substance abuse issue that impairs ability to practice.

A person demonstrating unsafe practice or unprofessional conduct may have no idea of wrong doing. They may rationalize that what they are doing is all right, or they may try to cover up something that puts client safety and wellbeing at risk.

Ask yourself:

  • How have clients been harmed or put at risk? 
  • How is the person failing to provide competent, ethical care? 
  • Is there a pattern of behaviour?

Use the "Taking Action" worksheet to help organize your thoughts.

What can you do to take action?

Decide if you want to discuss your concerns with the person involved. This can be a difficult decision. Ask yourself: 

  • What would you want done if you were the person in question? 
  • What is your relationship with the person (e.g., reporting relationship, co-worker, personal relationship)? 
  • Can you create an opportunity to privately discuss your concerns? 
  • Can you discuss your concerns objectively? 
  • What is the likelihood of the person being receptive to your concerns?

If you discuss your concerns with the person and the matter is resolved, it may not be necessary for you to take further action. If your concerns are not addressed or if you decide it would not be helpful to talk with the person involved:

  • Talk to your manager; 
  • Consult resource people in your workplace; or 
  • Contact CRNBC Practice Support for a consultation. 

Share information about the situation only with those who require it.

How do you document your concerns?

Within the workplace

  • Treat all documentation as confidential. (Do NOT photocopy charts, client records, or other confidential documentation.) 
  • Provide specific details. Give the date, time, place, who was involved (use initials for names), what happened, how it affected client care, what standards were not met.
  • Request written acknowledgement that your information has been received and assurance that the problem will be investigated and action taken. 
  • Sign your name. Anonymous reporting is less credible.

Recognize that details of internal investigations are confidential. Be patient. These problems often take time to investigate and resolve.

To a regulatory body

Your manager may need to report to the appropriate health regulatory body if the behaviour continues. You may need to report to the appropriate regulatory body if your concerns have not been dealt with and clients are at risk. The Duty to Report Practice Standard outlines this process. Inform your manager of your plan.

Reporting to the appropriate regulatory body is required when there is a reason to believe that there is a risk to clients if the person continues to practise. B.C.’s health regulatory bodies each have a process for dealing with complaints about the health care professionals they regulate. Visit the BC Health Regulators website for more information.

Issues related to unregulated care providers are dealt with solely in the workplace.

Complaints about registered nurses or nurse practitioners

Contact the CRNBC Nursing Concerns Coordinator

  • 604.736.7331, ext. 202
  • Toll-free 1.800.565.6505 ext. 202

 Need help?

For further information on the Standards of Practice or professional practice matters, contact us:

  • Telephone 604.736.7331 ext. 332
  • Toll-free in Canada 1.800.565.6505
  • Email
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