In the healthcare industry, caregivers deal with people from different backgrounds, ethnic, and regions, and thus there is a need to uphold the spirit of professionalism and inclusivity. It is also necessary to make decisions and policies that appreciate the diverse demands and expectations of these clients. An ethical code of conduct is the guidelines that help employees at all levels including management to perform their responsibility honestly and with integrity (Joly, 2015). At the heart of an ethical code of conduct lays the desired way in which employees should handle different challenges, the acceptable approach, and the basic traits that need to be evident in any form of engagement. It is this aspect of a code of conduct that makes organizations relevant in the healthcare sector. There is a need to appreciate that healthcare is a sensitive sector, where the level of professionalism has to be maintained at the highest level all the time. Moreover, there is also important to ensure that people are served equally without favoring some people in the line of treatment and neglecting people with health disparities (Eyal, 2013). Similarly, when it comes to management, any decision taken heavily affects the quality and accessibility of various health services to the public. Besides, those in governance and management are also responsible for creating a good environment for the junior employees necessary for motivating them, thus availing the patients (Allen, 2013). An ethical code of conduct comes into play to ensure that even an organization’s agent behaves in a manner that upholds the interests of the organization. It also ensures that all the rules set by the organization are clear to every employee so that they could align their efforts with the values and beliefs of the organization. Another benefit of an ethical code of conduct for an organization is a backbone that helps in shaping the desired culture of the organization. An ethical code of conduct is, therefore, a safety net for many organizations since it creates a platform for employees to perform their roles in a manner that safeguards the interest of the organization and its functioning.
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The aim of this paper is formulating a code of ethics that will ensure that those in the governance, management, and professional staff in a behavioral health center stay in line with the primary intention of providing support for those suffering from substance abuse and mental health disorders. People suffering from substance abuse and mental disorders are one of the most vulnerable patients for caregivers (American Medical Association [AMA], 2015). While dealing with vulnerable patients, the main task is for healthcare providers to ensure that all employees help patients maintain a high level of caution. The responsibility of the management and those in the governing positions is the provision of a healing environment that has necessary resources needed for the treatment process. To see if all the necessary steps are taken into consideration, there is a need to have an in-house ethical code of conduct that binds the actions of the workforce. Since an ethical code of conduct plays a crucial role in any healthcare facility, the study at hand is aimed at coming up with a tailor-made code of conduct for Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare as well as ensuring that all its employees live up to its values in their line of duty.
Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare is a private facility that was founded in 1948. Despite being a private entity, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare is a non-profit community health facility built due to the need to help the community to be among the healthiest in the nation. The hospital serves in 17 counties in North Florida and South Georgia. The facility comprises an acute care hospital with a capacity of 772 beds (Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, 2016), a psychiatric hospital, and three residency programs to name but a few. It is necessary to mention that Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare provides rehabilitation services for patients with substance abuse and mental health disorders in Southeastern Alabama, North Florida, and South Georgia (Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare 1, 2016). They offer their behavioral change services to both children and adults. Therefore, in appreciation of delicate cases that Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare handles at its Behavioral Health Center, a good ethical code of conduct will be helpful for the organization to pursue its goal of “transforming care, advancing health and improving lives.”
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Organization Structure of the Facility
Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare is run through a five structured hierarchy form of leadership (vertical chain of command) as demonstrated below.
Duties and Responsibilities
The major role played by the management team is the supervision of the financial, administrative and quality performance of healthcare avenues. Moreover, the responsibility of the management is to provide the right platform where the hospital and the community can share ideas on the direction that the healthcare provider should follow (Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, 2013). Any action taken by Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare is highly reflective of the community’s ambitions and aspiration of the hospital. Besides, management makes the final decision on projects that the hospital takes in line of improving its capacity to provide high-quality care. It is also the responsibility of the management to ensure that hospital facilities are renovated in a sequenced manner, which helps the hospital to be proactively ready for the adoption of new levels of technology (Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, 2013). Another crucial role played by the management team is sourcing for the required resources due to the fact that the hospital is a non-profit making entity. Overall, the responsibility of the management is to ensure that all the players within the hospital are working in a complementary way in the line with enhancing service delivery.
These are the backbone of the hospital’s continued success in all its engagements. In the context of mental health and substance abuse, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare relies on psychiatrists who are specifically trained to handle high-end conditions of mental disorders and effects and challenges of substance abuse (Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare 1, 2016). In terms of mental health, the professional staff involved in provision of services includes psychiatrists, nurses, therapists and counselors. Their role is to work out a tailor-made and personalized treatment plan for cases such as treatment-resistant depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. The staff works together as a team with the aim to check the condition of a patient and establish the right diagnosis. Afterwards, it is also their responsibility to correlate various specialties and services that help them to deliver a workable treatment plan that is also consistent with the patient’s relatives (Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare 1, 2016). When it comes to substance abuse, the staff is expected to handle addiction and co-occurring disorders (Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare 2, 2016). The staff is expected to provide the skilled help for detoxification, individual and family oriented counseling and pain management.
Two Possible Ethical Dilemmas
Conflict of Interest
The main dilemma for the management and other healthcare professionals is it to ensure that the interests of the hospital and the patients supersede their own. Many times employees are faced with a situation where they can benefit if they follow a path contrary to the ambitions of their organization (Perry, 2014). A good example is the need to ensure that the therapeutic boundary is maintained where a caregiver should provide the necessary help without expecting any form of a benefit from patients. Similarly, the management should make decisions and take actions that uphold the values of the organization even if it means doing contrary to luring into self-fulfillment in the form of personal gains.
Confidentially and Informed Consent
There is a line between making the patient’s treatment process open to the relevant members and the need to uphold patient-client confidentiality. Moreover, another challenge is in the form of making the right call as a professional and involving the patient in the treatment process (Perry, 2014). Sometimes in case of substance abuse, there is the need to ensure that, even though the input of the patient might not be useful during detoxification, it should be incorporated into the treatment process. Similarly, the management should ensure that any feedback regarding patients’ data availed as a response to any inquiry is kept confidential and can only be used to improve the capacity of the hospital to provide quality care (Perry, 2014). Moreover, those involved in the treatment process for mental health and substance abuse cases might come across patient’s personal information that needs to be kept confidential as demanded by the patient (AMA, 2015). This request should be upheld even if there is a demand of the management or family members to disclose it. In other words, as long as the patient in not incapacitated, any information about his/her treatment process should be kept private, known only to the caregivers and the patient, unless the contrary is allowed by the patient.
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Corresponding Ethical Standards
When providing the right help to mental health and substance abuse patients, there is a need to ensure that Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare guarantees professionals help and creates the right therapeutic environment that will complement the healing process. In meeting these two basic demands, both the management and the rest of the employees need to uphold a high level of professionalism. This will ensure that these vulnerable patients are secured whenever they are in Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, which is highly needed when handling patients who might be incapacitated in terms of making the most appropriate decision when it comes to one’s health (Allen, 2013). In response to these demands, the ethical code of conduct below will be highly influenced by the need to keep all the hospital’s workers in check in the decision-making process and upholding the spirit of quality service delivery. This will be a highly valuable input for the hospital in safeguarding its brand as a center of quality, positive change, and above all a life-changing avenue for patients and their families.
The key aim is to ensure that people governing the hospital offer the necessary support, which will put Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare’s Behavioral Center on the right path through proving the right leadership. There is, therefore, a need to steer the hospital in line with ensuring that the right support is availed to the right agent in the hospital in good time. To make this a reality, the following should be upheld by those in the governing positions.
· Ensure that they acquire and abide by the values of the hospital in making a decision and taking action on behalf of the hospital.
· Ensure that the spirit of caring and inclusivity is upheld in all their endeavors.
· Come up with leadership training for managers in line with the spirit of making them better managers while handling different cases.
· Ensure that all opportunities in hospitals are accessible to the management team.
· Ensure that there is a consistent and open way of delegating responsibilities in various departments.
· Uphold a high level of integrity while dealing with interests of the hospital financially and in other aspects.
· Ensure that they protect the interest of the patient first before personal ones.
· Ensure that they are in the forefront when it comes to building a culture, which helps all the employees improve their capabilities in playing their role better.
· Ensure that there is an air-tight procedure that ensures that the patients’ rights are protected during their stay in the hospital.
The aim of the ethical code of conduct is to ensure that the daily running of the hospital is safeguarded in line with ensuring that the therapeutic environment is availed throughout the hospital. Therefore, the management should ensure that all the relevant help is availed diligently throughout the treatment process. Therefore, the following need to be upheld.
· Ensure a high level of integrity in line of duty.
· Ensure that the patients’ rights are upheld throughout the treatment process.
· Ensure that delegation of responsibility is based purely on capacity.
· Ensure that there is a rewarding system that is realistic and in cohesion with the ambitions of the hospital.
· Ensure that there is a high level of professionalism in the decision-making process.
· Ensure that the decision-making process is inclusive and evidence-based.
· Eliminate the element of conflict of interest while making decisions on behalf of employees, patients and the hospital at large.
· Maintain a proactive way of handling issues with the hospital.
The key goal is to make sure that the patients are in good hands during their stay in Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. The demand of the professional staff is to abide by the set guidelines when engaging with patients and other employees. Moreover, the demand for the staff is to ensure that they are aware of the potential demands and the best approach while handling the case. Thus, the professional staff needs to abide by the following rules.
· Maintain the right relationship with the patients.
· Uphold the patient-caregiver contact time in any engagement.
· Provide the patient with the right information.
· Utilize the evidence-based approach while providing care through constant familiarization with the current pool of relevant knowledge.
· Ensure that there is no element of bias while treating the patients.
· Protect the welfare of the patients regarding their health and any other corresponding demands.
· Maintain patients’ dignity during the treatment process through improving one’s cultural competence.
· Apply due diligence before taking any treatment action in order to safeguard the patients
Ways to Implement the Ethical Code of Conduct and Ensure Compliance
It is necessary to ensure that all the above-mentioned demands are upheld with or without supervision. Moreover, it is essential to ensure that all the parties are fully aware of the demands regarding their relevance and applicability. Therefore, in order to better prepare them for not only adopting the demands but also owning them, the following strategies will be utilized.
The intention will be to help all the parties get involved in terms of addressing all the parameters touched by the ethical code of conduct. This will be in the form of having an exchange with different parties to expound better on the demand and the corresponding level of expectation in terms of adherence. Moreover, the empowerment strategy is aimed at availing complimentary help to employees to help them better conform to the desired behavior.
This is a strategy that will be utilized to help employees understand what is expected of them in different situations under the guidance of the code of conduct. Hence, there will be the use of demonstration exercises, where tools such as dramatization will be utilized to help the employees capture the context and relevance of every demand under the ethical code of conduct. The principal intention will be to enhance the employees’ ability to understand different premises when a certain demand of the code of conduct can be applied.
There will also be a randomly written evaluation to capture the level of understanding among different parties in the organization. Moreover, the randomness of the exercise will be in line with ensuring that the feedback is inclusive, thus shedding light on different avenues that need to be improved.
Consequences If There Is a Violation of the Code of Ethics
Due to the sensitivity of the responsibility at hand, absolute adherence to the ethical code of conduct is what is demanded. Therefore, to ensure that this eventuality is attained, all the parties involved in the running of the hospital will be required to sign a code of conduct agreement as a way of confirming they abide by the relevant specifications. Therefore, acting contrary to the demands of the code of conduct will lead to three levels of warnings.
This will be a polite notification to a party about an area where a mistake was done. This type of warning will be utilized at the first incidence.
This is a notification that will be accompanied with a little fine aimed at discouraging such behavior. This warning will be used if a particular party violates the demands for the second time.
Dismissal or Demotion
This is the third and final action, where a person can either be dismissed or demoted depending on the seriousness of offense. A significant fine will also be applicable in either of the cases.
The ethical code of conduct is a very helpful tool that avails any organization in building the right culture that empowers parties involved with the best way of serving the organization. It is evident that the ethical code of conduct provides a platform where the interest of an organization is upheld through improved employees’ behavior. Moreover, the ethical code of conduct is also aimed at creating the right environment for the clients and safeguarding sustainability of the organization. If formulated and utilized well, the ethical code of conduct provides a safe net to organizations through availing the right platform for the employees to undertake their roles in a manner that is in line with the interest of the organization, thus protecting the continuity of an organization. Therefore, there is a need to ensure that the formulation of the code of conduct is accompanied by a diligent way of implementation and reprimand to guarantee adherence to all the formulated rules. All in all, the ethical code of conduct needs to be sensitive to various demands within an organization and parties involved to ensure that it exhibits a high level of relevance.