The term “whistle-blowing” first surfaced in the late years of the twentieth century. The concept is simple: when an employee sees their company or colleagues partaking in deliberate wrongdoing that concerns public interest, they “blow the whistle” by reporting the misdeed to an authorized person or organization. The issues that can cause whistle-blowing may include criminal activity, sexual or any other harassment, intentional misinformation, or discriminating behavior.
A steady rise in whistle-blowing accidents since the first appearance of the concept shows that the traditional companies’ policies and terms of partnership may prove to be more and more ineffective as the industries progress. Health services organizations appear to be one of the most problematic in the matter, as, for example, nurses often blow the whistle in fear of endangering their patient’s wellbeing. Darr (2011) states that “a wide variety of administrative, ethical issues arise as health services managers do their jobs” (p. 163). This includes collecting and maintaining confidential information about the organization while simultaneously being responsible for the patient and their interests. The line between duty and responsibility is too fine, and it can often cause an ethical dilemma for the employee.
While it is indeed important to support whistle-blowing in the work field, there is also a need to protect the whistle-blowers from the consequences of their actions. Personal outcomes of highlighting the wrongdoings are usually negative and plenty. Gagnon and Perron (2017) give an example of those outcomes: “when nurses blow the whistle, they tend to experience negative professional consequences, disciplinary actions, barriers to career advancement, alienation from their peers, harassment, intimidation, discrimination, bullying and threats” (p. 386).
Of course, positive consequences occur as well, including private or public thank and support, but they are mostly diminished. Furthermore, a negative reaction towards a whistle-blower may result in increased stress, physical disturbances, mental health disorders, and grave repercussions on their families. Overall, it can be said that the organizations that address the issues of whistle-blowing should ensure more support to the employees and protect their safety, as well as physical and mental health.
Darr, K. (2011). Ethical issues regarding organization and staff. In Ethics in Health Services Management, Fifth Edition (pp. 163–197). Health Professions Press, Inc.
Gagnon, M., & Perron, A. (2019). Whistleblowing: A concept analysis. Nursing & Health Sciences, 22(2), 381–389. Web.