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Duty to Provide Care


​Nurses have an obligation to provide safe, competent and ethical care to their clients, in accordance with BCCNP’s Standards of Practice and relevant legislation.

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 FAQs

Sometimes I’m concerned about my safety when my practice takes me into certain environments. What can I do to keep myself safe?

If you think providing care would put you at risk, you may withdraw from providing care or refuse to provide care. Think about your legal, professional, and contractual responsibilities and use an ethical decision-making process to help you make the decision.  The Duty to Provide Care practice standard provides more information and guidance about your legal and professional obligations to clients.

It's important to work with the client, co-workers, and your employer to develop a plan that allows for client care and for your safety.  

For example:

  • Make sure the environment is safe by having the client remove any offending material or persons before your visit.
  • Negotiate a treatment plan with the client that states the terms under which care will be provided.
  • Arrange for another nurse to partner with you when doing home visits.
  • Make sure you have a way to call for help in an emergency (i.e. cell phone)​.
  • Have the client come to the clinic for treatment. ​
My client rarely keeps his appointments. When he does he is rude and verbally abusive to staff and other clients. Do we have a duty to provide care to this client?

Nurses have a professional and legal duty to provide clients with safe, competent and ethical care, and the client has a right to receive care. Do not allow your personal judgments about a client, or the client's lifestyle, to compromise the client's care by withdrawing care or refusing to provide care.

While you cannot abandon your clients, do not put yourself or clients in situations where giving care might be a danger to personal safety - violence; communicable disease; physical, verbal, or sexual abuse.

An ethical decision-making process may help to outline the things affecting your ability to provide care. Talk to your colleagues and employer and develop a care plan that will meet the client's needs.

One option is to work with the client on a treatment plan that allows him to receive care and for you to remain safe. Another option is to consult with other health professionals about the care of this client or refer the client to another health care provider better suited to manage his care. By approaching the situation this way, you would not be abandoning the client.

Refer to the Duty to Provide Care practice standard for more information.

 Resources