The most effective thing to do would have been to tell the colleague immediately and firmly that the cannula fastener of their device would not be appropriate, brought the patient at greater risk of harm, and needed to be re-done in a sterile environment. However, the case does not allow for this sort of communication: as often in real world, the action is complete before I can even think to react.
The question, ethically, at this point becomes: what should be done about this colleague’s behavior? Obviously, if they are using this “special method” and are proud of it, they are going to do it again. The question of ethics here, then, becomes one of whistle-blowing on a colleague. The Mrs. D case shows that it is perhaps most important in whistle-blowing to know the difference between a mountain and a molehill. Generally, everyone is much happier without whistle-blowing. There is no internal division or political nastiness as more people find out about the note of dissent, or even take it up and start crusades of their own. The workplace continues to operate smoothly and efficiently, and cohesion is even heightened by the successful handling of the situations in which it is decided that the problem was actually a molehill. No one has been reprimanded, fired, or has formed any sort of vendetta or grudge. Professional communication within the workplace continues on in a friendly and expedient manner, and ethical commitment returns to normal: “a public commitment to ethics serves at least two functions: it addresses the concerns of the public and it reinforces a bottom-line-justified interest in ethical behavior on the part of the officers” (Newton and Ford, 2002, p. 31).
In the case of Mrs. D, the problem is not a molehill. What my colleague has done here is risked the life of a client. And it is my personal and professional responsibility to keep the workplace a safe and functional environment in which harm is