Professional obligation to report incompetence, impairment and unethical conduct*

Potential Ethical Issues

Adopted: Wed, 2010-04-21

Back to Position Statements

Reviewed 2014-11-13 - no changes

It is the position of the North Carolina Board of Podiatry Examiners that podiatrists have a professional obligation to act when confronted with an impaired or incompetent colleague or one who has engaged in unethical conduct.

When appropriate, an offer of personal assistance to the colleague may be the most compassionate and effective intervention. When this would not be appropriate or sufficient to address the problem, podiatrists have a duty to report the matter to the institution best positioned to deal with the problem. For example, impaired podiatrists and podiatrist assistants should be reported to the Impaired Physicians Committee of the NC Foot and Ankle Society. Incompetent podiatrists should be reported to the clinical authority empowered to take appropriate action. Podiatrists also may report to the North Carolina Board of Podiatry Examiners, and when there is no other institution reasonably likely to be able to deal with the problem, this will be the only way of discharging the duty to report.

This duty is subordinate to the duty to maintain patient confidences. In other words, when the colleague is a patient or when matters concerning a colleague are brought to the podiatrist's attention by a patient, the podiatrist must give appropriate consideration to preserving the patient's confidences in deciding whether to report the colleague.

*See also Position Statements on Prescriptions & Controlled Substances