Veterans Administration Medical Center Ethical Analysis
Veterans Administration Medical Center concentrates in provision of integrated health care to U.S. veterans. It consists of more than 1,400 outpatient clinics, domiciliary, and Vet Centers with over 53,000 licensed practitioners providing comprehensive care to veterans. VA Medical Centers provide a variety of medical services such as critical care management, surgery, pharmaceutical services, mental health services, physical therapy, and among others. The Veterans Health Administration is involved in providing graduate education and has also made enormous contributions in the field of medical research. The mission of VA Medical center reflects President Lincoln’s promise deliver quality care to veterans who have faced war and challenging situations. The mission reads: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” (“U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs,” 2015).
The type of ethical system used by VA Medical Center is duty-driven (legal). It is also referred to as deontological ethics. Duty-driven ethics seek to guide people’s action but not necessarily concerned with the consequences of their actions (McDonnell, 2013). It places emphasis on doing what is right because it the right thing to do, and avoiding wrong acts because they are wrong. In duty-driven ethics, the morality of an action is judged based on adherence to outlined rules and procedures. It aims at binding people to their duties or obligations. This system of ethics asserts that for actions to be morally right, an individual must act in accordance with his/her duty. Observance of laws and standards is important in this ethical system. In a duty-driven system, employees justify their actions based on outlined company policy or the need to fulfill expectations.
The ethical system used by VA Medical Center is ends driven because it places emphasis on strict adherence to outlined organizational policies and procedures. Medical personnel who fail to adhere to these policies and procedures face disciplinary committee and in the worst case scenario dismissal or even prosecution. For example, all employees must obey the stat’s ethics laws, failure to which leads to disciplinary action taken against them. VA Medical Center has established numerous work policies that guide the entire medical fraternity from nurses to the directors. In addition to the medical center’s work policies are departmental policies which the employees are also expected to adhere. Employees can only justify their actions if they acted in accordance with the work policies.
At VA Medical Center, code of ethics is used to guide the behavior of not only the employees but also the management, board of directors, contractors, and others. The code of ethics guides employee behavior and expectations. It outlines the required ethical and professional standards expected in practice such as integrity, fairness, dignity, and respect. This concerns the employee’s relationship to each other, customers, and residents. In terms of respect, employees are supposed to avoid discriminatory behavior of any kind. Discriminatory practices prohibited include discrimination based on gender, color, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability, or any other forms. The code of ethics guides the employee-client relationship. Employees are not supposed to receive any form of rewards or favors from patients. The code of ethics is used to outline the procedures or actions the employees should take while reporting incidents. It outlines the appropriate departments of bodies where employees can report incidents (“Department of Veterans Affairs,” 2011).
The organization’s code of ethics is of great significance to the management. The management uses code ethics in evaluating the actions of employees. The code of ethics determines whether an employee’s action is right or wrong. Management reviews the code of ethics to determine the disciplinary action to take against an employee who portrays unethical conduct. When managers observe or become aware of unethical practices, the code of conduct requires the management to take immediate action be commencing investigations into the issue. The management uses the code of ethics to create credibility in the organization. For instance, by enforcing the code of ethics, employees are more likely to show integrity, honesty, fairness, and generally sound moral values. The code of ethics helps managers to unite the workforce and leadership. In organizations where ethical codes of conduct guide behavior, decision makers and employees are likely to develop good relations. Employees and the organization work towards achieving a common goal.
The board of directors makes use of the code of ethics to implement various changes at VA Medical Center. The board of directors uses the code of ethics to continually review and improve the quality of care at the hospital. The board of directors is mandated with improving the quality of care. Through enforcement of the code of ethics, the medical fraternity is able to provide quality services to patients. For example, the code of ethics prohibits medical personnel from engaging in activities that may conflict with provision of public duties. The board is mandated with ensuring that the hospital meets regulatory as well as legal requirements. The board of directors can also use the code of ethics to ensure that employees’ actions are in accordance to legal and regulatory requirements. For example at VA, the code of ethics requires employees to observe the state’s laws in addition to the facility’s policies. The board of directors can also use the codes of ethic to promote positive relationships among employees, community, funding sources, local businesses, state government, and other health organizations. This is because code of ethics encourages employees to work with integrity and fairness with others.
Veterans Administration Medical Center may need to modify the existing code of ethics. In the recent past, a number of public scandals has rocked the facility due to a lax in the implementation of code of ethics. As a new CEO, it would be necessary to modify the code of ethics and restore credibility in the facility. The contentious issue involved intentional manipulation of books to indicate shorter wait times by patients. Veterans seeking care would not be clocked in the hospital system but instead would be forced to wait in informal ques where clocking did not take place. This was facilitated by collusion of staff members at a number of facilities (“Department of Veterans Affairs,” 2011). As a new CEO, it would be prudent to establish mandatory compliance training program for all employees. Ethical and compliance training is important since it raises awareness among employees about the importance of ethics and ethical behavior in the workplace.
Ethics and compliance training can reduce or eliminate risky behaviors among employees, such as involvement in unfair practices which have reputational, legal, and financial implications (Purtilo & Doherty, 2016). It is expected that employees and managers may be unwilling to attend the mandatory ethics and compliance training program. People generally tend to resist change. In order to encourage the employees to attend the program, it would be necessary to talk to them in a meeting and explain the benefits of attending the program. A strong organizational culture will encourage the employees to quickly adapt the new code. As such, most employees will be willing to attend the training sessions and learn.
In summary, codes of ethic is critical in guiding the behavior of employees across organizations. The duty-driven ethical system applied at Veterans Administration Medical Center has greatly helped in encouraging positive behavior among employees. Codes of ethics are important to employees, the management, and the board of directors since it helps them achieve their different objectives as well as organizational goals.
Department of Veterans Affairs. (2011). Ethical and Professional Standards of Conduct. Retrieved from: http://www.ethics.wa.gov/ADVISORIES/Board_Approved_Policies/VA%20Ethical%20 Standards%20090911.pdf
McDonnell, A. (2013). Managing geriatric health services. Burlington, Mass: Bartlett Learning.
Purtilo, R. B., & Doherty, R. F. (2016). Ethical dimensions in the health professions. St. Louis, Missouri: Elsevier.
- S. Department of Veteran Affairs. (2015). About VA. Retrieved from: http://www.va.gov/health/aboutvha.asp