Do You Know You're Ethical?
Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE
news accounts of how Enron and Health South executives viewed
their participation in---or distance from---shady deals led to me
ponder: what kind of guidelines to most people apply to their
behavior to know whether they are "in bounds" or "out
I find interesting in the case of many corporate scandals of late, is
that the leaders in the spot light were either oblivious to corporate
guidelines about ethical standards, or were aware of the breach of
ethics, but met with no resistance. It made me wonder what kind
of conversations took place, REALLY, in the board rooms.
hear of memo's to the CEO after the fact, but what kind of EARLY
conversations could have avoided the corporate debacles that cost
people their livelihoods? As a clinician or healthcare leader,
what can YOU do to initiate a dialogue that will help your
organization stay within the boundaries of ethical conduct, as you
would define it?
Yourself Four Questions
are four questions, adapted from Seattle
Times columnist, Dale Turner, to ask when you are confronted with
issues regarding personal or business behavior:
everyone did what I am doing, what kind of world would it be?
This is the test of universality. Do only that which can be
done by all. This can also be viewed in terms of sportsmanship:
One who plays fair wants no special concessions for himself that
are not valid for all.
is this likely to lead if I persist in this pattern of thought and
conduct? If we choose a particular road, we
determine our destination. Where will this path ultimately
I be willing for my conduct to be known by all?
Would I be comfortable in reading about my behavior in the local
paper, or the Wall Street Journal, or viewing myself being
questioned on national television?
would the person whom I admire most think of what I am doing?
Would that person approve or disapprove? Ask yourself: "What
would ______ do in this situation?
from asking these four questions, it is worthwhile to spend time in
quiet reflection---whether you call this prayer or meditation---to
clear your mind of the "junk" and rationalizations that
stand in the way of knowing with conviction what the right path truly
you care about whether healthcare business is or remains ethical, I
invite you to take the first step in improving the situation: Open
around you right now. What do you see in your practice, in your
organization, in your city and region? What conduct and behavior
are you ok with? What do you feel good about? What are you truly
what conduct do you feel embarrassed about, or do you wish would not
be taking place? Notice not only in your own practice or organization,
but also your colleagues' practice or other organizations? What kinds
of conduct is not in passing muster with the four questions above?
you open your eyes and take notice, avoid self-censorship like
"who am I to be critical or pass judgment." Just go through the 4
questions above and answer each honestly regarding the behavior or
conduct you are evaluating.
next step then in keeping healthcare ethical will be addressed in a
future article: How to initiate a dialogue about ethics so
that colleagues participate.
R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE is an executive coach and business
consultant. She is president of The Gaillour Group and director
of Creative Strategies in Physician Leadership. Dr. Gaillour is
a professional speaker on healthcare leadership, technology and
can be reached at (888) 562-7289 or email@example.com