Accountability in the Health Care Industry

Accountability inside the health care industry S. Thomas University of Phoenix Leadership and Performance Development HCS/475 Paula Smith March 25, 2010 Accountability inside the health care industry Accountability by definition can best be described as “the perception of being held answerable for one’s actions or decisions” (Gelfand, Lim, and Raver, 2004, pg. 138).
Unfortunately, for some Americans the terms “accountability” or “accountability standards” appear to be nothing more than cleverly marketed buzzwords that are used to fool imprudent consumers into a believing that there is a system of proper checks and balances within American businesses (Hughes, 2004). After all, for years the American public has taken a front roll seat to watch business after business fold because their company executive were brought up on charges of accounting fraud, theft, or ethical violations (Valentine, Godkin, Page, and Rittenburg, 2008).
The cynicism of these detractors is clearly understandable, considering that to date only a handful of executives have been successfully prosecuted or charged with a crime. Despite the validity of the detractors argument, there is one fact that these cynics seem to forget and that is, “the concept of accountability dates back to the time of Aristotle”, who back then, contextualized the subject in terms of justice, punishment, and social control (Gelfand, Lim, and Raver, 2004).

In fact, accountability is a topic that has been closely aligned with psychology, politics, law, education, health care, and organizational behavior (Gelfand, Lim, and Raver, 2004). Indeed, accountability and accountability standards are a crucial component of each and every discipline, especially in the field of health care. Health care is a unique business in that; the industry has a fiduciary duty to federal, state, and local governments. Not only do professionals mployed within the industry have different professional and ethical obligations but every decision or judgment that is made will also have a direct impact on the way care is delivered. Nonetheless, the doubts and misgivings of the American consumers has forced health care organizations into taking a more hands-on approach toward fostering a climate of accountability inside organizations. These consumer demands forced organizations to implement transparent accountability standards.
Furthermore, there are two successful approaches that businesses have used to shift to a more productive stand. The first is by establishing strategic performance objectives and assessing their effectiveness (Mulvaney-Harris, Zwahr, and Baranowski, 2006). For instance, in the past if a nurse made a medication error by giving a medication a patient was allergic to the prevailing wisdom was to subvert the incident or keep the knowledge of the incident within the department where it occurred.
Back then, the protocol for medication errors was to inform the physician, charge nurse, department manager, and lastly the nurse supervisor. Now instead of containing these incidents within the department, hospitals managers are instead using these incidents as a teachable moment and to gather data. Meaning, that instead on punishing the employee or firing them, managers are revisiting incidents, patient loads or training procedures to make certain that employees are properly trained or reviewing the processes before a medication is given (St. John Medical Center, 2004).
The second approach that successful organizations have used is to incorporate systems of “checks and balances” that are interdependent throughout their businesses. The sole purpose of instituting a system of checks and balance is to ensure that there is an internal control mechanism in place to impede fraud, waste, or abuse. In the example of the medication error, the system of check and balances that was instituted created an audit trail by purchasing an automatic medication dispenser that would only release medication designate for that specific patient (Business Dictionary, 2010).
If another medication error occurred, this error could be traced to the nurses for that patient, the pharmacy department who stocked the dispenser, and the physician who ordered the medication. For some health care facilities, employing a system of balances entails giving mid-level managers the authority to make decisions and the related responsibilities to verify execution is distributed among different departments (Business Dictionary, 2010). The unexpected benefits of implementing organizational checks and balances systems have permanently transformed today’s health care organizations.
Specifically, the corporate backing of internal accountability standards has created a positive work climate that promotes greater understanding and support for the organizations’ mission, while simultaneously enhancing the decision making abilities of managers (Mulvaney-Harris, Zwahr, and Baranowski, 2006, pg. 438). To continuously promote or foster these productive environments 21st century health care facilities will have to keep establishing strategic performance objectives to gather data, measure it, and assess the procedures’ effectiveness. Not just to quell the voices of cynical detractors but also to run efficient organizations.
References Business Dictionary (2010). Definition of checks and balances. BusinessDictionary. com Retrieved on March 23, 2010 from http://www. businessdictionary. com/definition/checks-and-balances. html Gelfand, M. J. , Lim, B. C. , and Raver, J. L. (2004). Culture and accountability in . organizations: Variations in forms of social control across cultures Science-Direct. Human Resource Management Review. Vol. 14: Iss1. Elsevier Science Inc. Retrieved on March 20, 2010 Hughes, S. (2004). Critics warn of push to weaken corporate accountability laws CQ Weekly- banking & Financial Services.
Retrieved on March 21, 2010 from Sage Publications Mulvaney-Harris, R. R. , Zwahr, M. and Baranowski, L. (2006). The trend toward accountability: What does it mean for HR managers? Science-Direct. Human Resource Management Review. Vol. 16. Elsevier Science Inc. Retrieved on March 20, 2010 St John Medical Center (2004). SOP: Medication Errors. St. John Medical Center Tulsa OK Retrieved on April 2004 Valentine, S. , Godkin, L. , Page, K. , and Rittenburg, T. (2008). Gender and ethics: Ethical judgments, ethical intentions and altruism among healthcare professionals. Retrieved from Emerald, on March 23, 2010

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