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Code of Ethics

for Registered Nurses


Appendix B. Applying the Code in Selected


Responding Ethically to Incompetent, Non-Compassionate, Unsafe

or Unethical Care

Nurses question, intervene, report and address unsafe, non-compassionate,

unethical or incompetent practice or conditions that interfere with their ability

to provide safe, compassionate, competent and ethical care; and they support

those who do the same. (A4)

Nurses are honest and take all necessary actions to prevent or minimize patient

safety incidents. They learn from near misses and work with others to reduce

the potential for future risks and preventable harms. (A5)

Nurses intervene, and report when necessary,


when others fail to respect

the dignity of a person they are caring for or a colleague (including students),

recognizing that to be silent and passive is to condone the behaviour. They speak

up, facilitate conversation and adjudicate disputes, as appropriate/required. (D4)

Nurses, as members of a self-regulating profession, practise according to the

values and responsibilities in the


and in keeping with the professional

standards, laws and regulations supporting ethical practice. (G1)

Nurses are attentive to signs that a colleague is unable, for whatever reason,

to perform their duties. In such a case, nurses will take the necessary steps to

protect the safety of persons receiving care. (G6)

If a nurse encounters a situation where harm is underway or there is a clear risk of

imminent harm, the nurse takes immediate steps to protect the safety and dignity of

the persons receiving care. Some examples of appropriate immediate steps in cases of

actual or imminent harm could include, but are not limited to, speaking up if a potential

error in drug calculations is detected, questioning an unclear order, intervening to

prevent unsafe restraint practices, protecting patients when a colleague’s performance

appears to be impaired for any reason (see CRNNS, 2017) or intervening in a serious

breach of confidentiality involving people with sexually transmitted infections. Nurses

are aware of provincial and territorial legislation and nursing practice standards that

may include direction regarding disclosure and reporting and provide further clarity on

whether there is a clear risk of imminent harm.


See footnote 6.