Whistleblowing is the act of reporting an illegal, unethical or unsafe practice. In the healthcare field, whistleblowing is especially important because it can involve factors that put the wellbeing, health and even life of patients at risk.

The nursing code of ethics maintains that healthcare workers are required to report “unethical, illegal, unprofessional or unsafe practices to the appropriate authorities.” Still, whistleblowing can be incredibly difficult and even risky. Retaliation, though unlawful, can result in the loss of one’s job. That’s why it is essential to protect yourself when whistleblowing. Here are a few ways to do so:

  • Get an outside perspective
  • Make sure you have the facts before whistleblowing
  • If possible, talk to an attorney or your nursing association before reporting
  • Make sure you have enough documentation to prove the wrong action
  • Do everything you can in writing, rather than verbally
  • Document all interactions related to whistleblowing and keep copies
  • Remain objective
  • Keep calm

While you do have the responsibility to report inappropriate conduct, you should always be prepared before you officially blow the whistle. Do everything you can to be certain that the actions are unethical, illegal, unprofessional or unsafe. Be sure that you have looked at the situation objectively and have the necessary documentation to prove what is happening.

Finally, talk with a legal professional to ensure that you are following the proper steps and safeguarding yourself. While you do need to protect patients, you also need to protect yourself and your future.