Reporting Incompetent, Unethical or Illegal Practices

The Code for Nurses with Interpretive Statements (ANA, 1985) states that nurses as client advocates act “to safeguard the client and the public when health care and safety are affected by incompetent, unethical, or illegal practice by any person.” Incompetent nursing practice is measured against nursing standards, unethical practice is evaluated by the Code for Nurses, and illegal practice is identified in terms of violations of the law.

Reporting Responsibilities and Guidelines
If a nurse is aware of inappropriate or questionable practice in the provision of health care, concern should be expressed to the person carrying out the questionable practice. If indicated, the practice should then be reported to the appropriate authority within the agency or larger system. There should be an established process for reporting and handling incompetent, unethical or illegal practice within each employment setting so that such reporting can go through official channels without causing fear or reprisal. Written documentation of the observed practices or behaviors must be available to the appropriate authorities. If the incompetent, unethical or illegal activity is not corrected within the employment setting and continues to jeopardize the client’s welfare and safety, the problem should be reported to other appropriate authorities such as the Missouri State Board of Nursing.

Responsibilities of the Missouri State Board of Nursing
The law provides fourteen grounds to deny license or discipline the license of an RN or LPN:

The Board’s disciplinary responsibilities include:

The State Board of Nursing must receive and process each complaint made to them. Any member of the public or profession, state or local official may make a complaint to the Board.

Complaints must be made in writing and mailed or delivered to the Executive Director of the Missouri State Board of Nursing. A complaint may be made based upon personal knowledge or upon information and belief, reciting information received from other sources. All complaints must fully identify the complainant by name and address. Forms are available from the Board by request.

Each complaint received shall be acknowledged in writing and the complaintant will be informed as to whether the complaint is being investigated and of any disciplinary action taken. The complaint and any information obtained as a result of the investigation of the complaint are not available for inspection by the general public.

The following actions may be taken by the Board:



For questions related to disciplinary matters, contact the State Board of Nursing. (see resource section)

American Nurses Association. (1985). Code for Nurses with Interpretive Statements. American Nurses Association Publishing Company.

American Nurses Association. (1994). Guidelines on Reporting Incompetent, Unethical, or Illegal Practices. American Nurses Association Publishing Company.

Chapter 335, RSMo-State of Missouri Nursing Practice Act.

Missouri State Board of Nursing. (1997). Discipline Information Packet.

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