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Position Statements

Professional Obligations Pertaining to Incompetence, Impairment, or Unethical Conduct of Licensees

 Categories:  Ethics and Professionalism   Adopted: Nov 1998  | Amended: Jul 2021  Print Friendly Version  |   Share this item

It is the position of the Board that licensees 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, licensees have a duty to report the matter to the institution best positioned to deal with the problem. For example, impaired licensees should be reported to the North Carolina Professionals Health Program. Incompetent licensees should be reported to the clinical authority empowered to take appropriate action. Licensees also may report such issues to the Board, and when there is no other institution reasonably able to deal with the problem, this may be the only way of discharging the duty to report.

The duty to act when confronted with an impaired or incompetent colleague is subordinate to a licensee’s duty to maintain a patient’s confidentiality. In other words, when an impaired or incompetent colleague is also a patient, the licensee should prioritize the duty to preserve the colleague/patient’s confidentiality when considering whether to report the colleague/patient.