Healthcare organizations face ethical dilemmas daily and must ensure their employees provide the most appropriate care possible. Staffing shortages, healthcare access disparities, and emergency situations requiring triage of resources and equipment can happen anytime. It is critical for an organization to have strategies for promoting ethical behavior in healthcare compliance.
Strategies Healthcare Organizations Can Use to Promote Ethical Behavior in Compliance
Ensuring ethical practices in healthcare compliance is essential to corporate health and the integrity of your organization. Use the following strategies to promote ethical behavior in regulatory compliance.
- Practice effective communication. A healthcare organization can only expect employees to maintain a standard that has been documented and communicated. Setting formal requirements through concise, up-to-date policies is the framework behind ethical behavior and decision-making.
- Have an established code of ethics. Aligning your code of ethics to your mission statement will help establish a culture of ethics throughout your healthcare organization and community.
- Create a safe environment for reporting errors. Encouraging employees to bring any concerns regarding ethical practices, deviation from policies or procedures, or patient safety issues to a central department in your organization will ensure their reporting will remain entirely confidential and that the problem reported will be investigated and appropriately addressed.
- Demonstrate appreciation. Employee recognition programs like the Daisy Award for Nursing Ethics engage your staff in a meaningful way, recognizing nurses who show high integrity, clinical care, and compassionate, ethical practice.
Challenges Healthcare Organizations Face When Implementing Ethical Behavior in Compliance
When implementing a culture of ethical behavior in healthcare compliance, an organization can face various challenges.
- Healthcare regulations and ethics education: Staying current with regulations and employee training can be challenging. Healthcare organizations often encounter issues with ethical behavior in patient treatment, research, and end-of-life decisions. Implementing a solid education curriculum and training software can assist an organization in teaching clinical and non-clinical staff ethical standards. Schedule a demo today to see how MCN Healthcare’s learning management system can help your organization.!
- Emphasis on cost-cutting measures: Increasingly, healthcare organizations are putting pressure on their administration and clinical staff to lower costs. Clinical staff must do everything necessary for their patient’s health and welfare, yet they feel immense pressure to save on costs. Involve staff in cost comparisons when possible.
- Fear of reprisal: It is not uncommon for the staff in a healthcare organization to see something concerning yet decline to report it. There may have been a culture in the past of shunning, stunting the career of an employee, or other negative consequences for reporting concerns. An ethical culture would use a no-fault reporting process to recognize and immediately rectify problems before they become costly mistakes.
How Can Healthcare Organizations Create an Ethical Compliance Culture?
To establish a culture of ethical compliance with the right tools and processes, healthcare organizations must first develop a clear and concise written code of ethics. The code needs to encompass all areas of the healthcare organization. Fostering an environment of collaboration and buy-in is also essential, as everyone in your organizational structure must be on board with implementing the code of ethics. The involvement of all departments and specialties in developing an ethical culture in your organization is imperative to its success.
Carrying out organization-wide training is another significant step. Clinical and non-clinical employees need to undergo the same specialized training based on a clear education plan. To design a good training program, tailor the curriculum to each type of position in your healthcare organization.
Creating a confidential reporting system for concerns regarding ethics code violations is also imperative. Employees need to view reporting concerns as an asset to the organization. Knowing of a potential issue from the start can help organizations get ahead of the problem and possibly avoid future regulatory fines and save a patient.
Ensure consistent monitoring of their effectiveness and compliance. A robust system for monitoring your regulatory policies and procedures helps adjust the approach to your organization’s needs.
How Can Healthcare Organizations Measure the Effectiveness of Their Ethical Compliance Strategies?
Measuring your ethical compliance strategies will reveal their effectiveness and give you the insight to adjust policies where needed.
- Schedule regular audits. Consistent audits of your ethical compliance policies will reveal the strength of compliance within your organization.
- Use policy management software. You can use software to review and update policies; run reports and ensure staff competency for new or revised policies and procedures. Schedule a demo today to see how MCN Healthcare’s Policy Management Software can help improve your policies and procedures workflows and searchability.
- Conduct employee surveys. These surveys will provide important feedback on how your organizational community perceives your ethical compliance policies and culture.
- Follow social media. Do you monitor social media mentions of your organization? In today’s climate, this is a significant tool for learning the public view of your healthcare organization. Watching posts or comments about experiences at your organization can help identify areas that need improvement.
By taking these steps, healthcare organizations can identify areas to improve their compliance programs and efficiently address possible violations.
Resources Available to Help Healthcare Organizations Promote Ethical Behavior
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has many policies, procedures, and legislation on ethical standards in healthcare. One example of federal legislation in healthcare is The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). This act gives access to emergency services to all who present to the emergency room regardless of their insurance coverage or ability to pay.
The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General has numerous references and links to legislation on decisions made in cases brought before the Inspector General’s office.
Nursing World has an area dedicated to the Code of Ethics for Nurses.
The National Institutes of Health has vast information on healthcare, including an ethics program.
Ethical Behavior Is Vital to Health Care
Ensuring you incorporate ethics into the daily work environment of your facility may feel like a daunting task; but you can create a culture of ethical care by implementing a written code of ethics, encouraging open communication in a no-fault environment, providing staff education, ensuring policies and procedures are up-to-date and accessible to all staff, and recognizing employees for excellence.
American College of Healthcare Executives. (n.d.). Creating an Ethical Culture Within the Healthcare Organization. ACHE. Retrieved July 16, 2023, from https://www.ache.org/about-ache/our-story/our-commitments/ethics/ache-code-of-ethics/creating-an-ethical-culture-within-the-healthcare-organization
American Nurses Association. (n.d.). View the Code of Ethics for Nurses. Retrieved July 16, 2023, from https://www.nursingworld.org/practice-policy/nursing-excellence/ethics/code-of-ethics-for-nurses/
Castel, E.S., Ginsburg, L.R., Zaheer, S., & Tamim, H. (2015). Understanding nurses’ and physicians’ fear of repercussions for reporting errors: clinician characteristics, organization demographics, or leadership factors? BMC Health Services Research, 15, 326. doi: 10.1186/s12913-015-0987-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4542128/
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022, December 5). Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA). Retrieved July 16, 2023, from https://www.cms.gov/regulations-and-guidance/legislation/emtala
The Daisy Foundation. (n.d.). The Daisy Award for Nursing Ethics. Retrieved July 16, 2023, from https://www.daisyfoundation.org/nursing-ethics
National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Ethics Topics. https://ethics.od.nih.gov/topics
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Compliance. Retrieved July 16, 2023, from https://oig.hhs.gov/compliance/