Social Workers' Management of Error: Ethical and Risk Management Issues
Social workers, like all professionals, sometimes make mistakes. For example, they may disclose clients’ confidential information inappropriately, fail to respond to clients’ reasonable requests in a timely manner, or engage in improper dual relationships with clients. Ideally, social workers who err would follow a protocol that honors the profession’s commitment to responsible and honest communication and minimizes the practical risks faced by social workers who might be named in lawsuits, licensing board complaints, and ethics complaints. This article explores the nature and forms of social work error and possible constructive responses to it that (a) protect clients, (b) minimize risk to social workers, (c) prevent future error, and (d) adhere to prevailing ethical standards in the profession.