Whistleblowing in the healthcare sector is such a controversial issue and for good reason. Not only does it affect the person you are reporting, but it also affects yourself, the one who is reporting. Some nurses hold their silence due to fear of retaliation and being ostracised.
However, this should not stop us from telling the truth and facing up to our responsibility as a nurse.
One definition of nursing that really stands out amongst others is that: “Nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimisation of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.”
Nurses have the duty to protect, promote and optimise the health of their patients. Witnessing a colleague’s mistake or deliberate action and not doing something about it goes against our obligation to safeguard our patients. It means condoning the act which ultimately makes us an accomplice and guilty by association.
Moreover, allowing our colleague’s action to go unnoticed will open the possibility of probable damage to other patients and hampering the development of our colleague’s skills and knowledge.
When we open up to our nurse manager about a colleague’s nursing error not only do we prevent the likelihood of serious injury or worse, we also assist our colleague, no matter how painful the process is. Healthcare is a shared responsibility. Therefore, turning a blind eye to the error of our colleague is considered negligence.
Nursing is advocating the care not only of an individual but their family, and community. By keeping quiet we fail to uphold everything that nursing stands for.
Being transparent and accountable is difficult for a nurse. Having the strength to speak up is a huge responsibility but something we have to do, to to protect our profession and the people we swore to protect when we took our oaths.
For more information regarding the guidelines of whistleblowing you can visit the NMC website here
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