North Carolina Board of Nursing

Discipline & Compliance

Employer Complaints

Just Culture Overview

Just Culture Concepts

  • Focus on evaluating the behavioral choices made by an individual, not on the outcome of the event; 
  • Require leadership commitment and modeling; 
  • Distinguish among normal human error, unintentional risk-taking behavior, intentional risk-taking behavior, and reckless behavior; 
  • Foster a learning environment that encourages reporting (including self-reports) of all near misses, mistakes, errors, adverse events, and system weaknesses; 
  • Lends itself to continuous improvement of work processes and systems to ensure the highest level of client and staff safety; 
  • Encourage the use of non-disciplinary actions whenever appropriate (including coaching, counseling, training, and education); 
  • Hold individuals accountable for their own performance in accordance with their job responsibilities; and, 
  • Does not expect individuals to assume accountability for system flaws over which they had no control.

Terms, Definitions and Examples

Human Error (Not reportable to NCBON)


  • Nurse inadvertently, unintentionally did something other than intended or other than what should have been done; 
  • A slip; 
  • A lapse; or 
  • An honest mistake. 
  • Isolated event, not a pattern of behavior.

(Repetitive human error or pattern of behavior requires further evaluation.)


  • Single medication event/error (wrong dose, wrong route, wrong patient, or wrong time) 
  • Failure to implement a treatment order due to oversight 

Responses to Behavior

  • Consoling or coaching

At-Risk Behavior (NCBON Practice Consultant to be contacted for consultation)


  • Behavioral choice that increases risk where risk may not be recognized or is mistakenly believed to be justified; 
  • Nurse does not appreciate risk; 
  • Unintentional risk taking; and 
  • Nurse’s performance or conduct does not pose a continuing practice risk to clients or others. 

(Repetitive at-risk behavior or pattern of behavior requires further evaluation.)


  • Exceeding scope of practice 
  • Pre-documentation 
  • Minor deviations from established procedure 
  • Nurse knowingly deviates from a standard due to a lack of understanding of risk to client, organization, self, or others

Responses to Behavior

Coaching or counseling

  • (If behavior not a pattern of practice) to raise awareness of accepted procedures and potential risks for failure to comply 
  • remedial actions taken may include education, training, and assignment of activities appropriate to knowledge and skill 
  • nurse may be informed failure to change is not an option 
  • if nurse does not accept coaching, may result in disciplinary action

Board action

  • non-disciplinary remediation 
  • disciplinary action if indicated

Reckless Behavior (Mandatory report to Board required.)


  • Nurse consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk; 
  • Nurse's action or inaction is intentional and purposeful; or 
  • Nurse puts own self/personal interest above that of client, organization or others


  • Nurse abandons patients by leaving workplace before reporting to another appropriately licensed nurse. Nurse leaves workplace before completing all assigned patient/client care (including documentation) for a non-urgent reason. 
  • Nurse does not intervene to protect a patient because nurse is not assigned to patient 
  • Nurse makes serious medication error, when realized tells no one, and when questioned denies any knowledge of reason for change in client condition 
  • Nurse falsifies documentation to conceal an error

Response to Behavior

  • Report to Board for investigation 
  • Disciplinary action by Board

Additional Definitions

Consoling – affording comfort or solace; restoring confidence and relieving anxiety.

Coaching – supportive discussion with an employee on the need to engage in safe behavioral choices.

Counseling – a first step in disciplinary action; putting an employee on notice that performance is unacceptable.