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Failure to report poor care as a breach of moral and professional expectation.

Ion, Robin; Olivier, Stephen; Darbyshire, Philip


Robin Ion

Stephen Olivier

Philip Darbyshire


Cases of poor care have been documented across the world. Contrary to professional requirements, evidence indicates that these sometimes go unaddressed. For patients, the outcomes of this inaction are invariably negative. Previous work has either focused on why poor care occurs and what might be done to prevent it, or on the reasons why those who are witness to it find it difficult to raise their concerns. Here, we build on this work but specifically foreground the responsibilities of registrants and students who witness poor care. Acknowledging the challenges associated with raising concerns, we make the case that failure to address poor care is a breach of moral expectation, professional requirement and, sometimes, legal frameworks. We argue that reporting will be more likely to take place if those who wish to enter the profession have a realistic view of the challenges they may encounter. When nurses are provided with robust and applied education on ethics, when 'real-world' cases and exemplars are used in practice and when steps are taken to develop and encourage individual moral courage, we may begin to see positive change. Ultimately however, significant change is only likely to take place where practice cultures invite and welcome feedback, promote critical reflection, and where strong, clear leadership support is shown by those in positions of influence across organisations.


ION, R., OLIVIER, S. and DARBYSHIRE, P. 2019. Failure to report poor care as a breach of moral and professional expectation. Nursing inquiry [online], 26(3), article number e12299. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 12, 2019
Online Publication Date Jun 4, 2019
Publication Date Jul 31, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 19, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jan 19, 2022
Journal Nursing inquiry
Print ISSN 1320-7881
Electronic ISSN 1440-1800
Publisher Wiley Open Access
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Issue 3
Article Number e12299
Keywords Healthcare services; Healthcare ethics; Medical ethics; Morality and healthcare; Morality and medicine; Patient safety
Public URL


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