Make Compliance and Ethics Training a Top Priority
Healthcare is one of the nation’s most tightly regulated industries. Because patient safety is a priority, federal and state regulators pay a great deal of attention to the actions of physicians, PAs, nurses, laboratory technicians and other professionals.
Therefore, hospitals, clinics, physician groups and other employers need to make compliance and ethics training a priority for everyone within the organization. A violation of HIPAA guidelines, OSHA safety standards or state licensing regulations can have very serious financial and operational consequences to the organization. If the federal government launches an investigation of your organization or a plaintiff files a lawsuit, you are sure to asked some serious questions, such as “Have you implemented a compliance and training program and can you document your actions?”
To reduce these legal and regulatory risks, you should review your compliance and ethics policies on a regular basis to be sure they reflect the current environment. But you also need to put those policies into practice. Here are several tips to consider:
Hold brief educational sessions several times a year on topics like ethically challenging situations or a recent legal case.
Include compliance-related messages in your organization’s newsletter or regular emails to employees and physicians.
Add an ethics component to your health and wellness program, such as volunteering to teach young students about the importance of doing the right thing.
One source for practical advice is the Health Care Compliance Association, a nonprofit that provides training, certification and other programs for healthcare organizations. In addition, All Medical Personnel has a national compliance program designed to ensure that new staffers meet all federal, state and local requirements.
In any case, an effective ethical and compliance training program requires a commitment from the highest levels of the organization. That means looking at compliance as a positive asset, rather than a cost of doing business. As the HCCA says, “Health care compliance programs are ultimately judged by how they affect the delivery of health care to the patients, residents, and clients served by the health care industry. The services we provide require the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, and competence.