Establishing a practice code of ethics
Here are 3 tips to get your practice's ethical protocols on track.
Does your practice have written ethical protocols, and do the practice owners share them with you and your team members? If not, you could be in trouble. Without such guidelines, you—and the doctors, too—must rely on your personal principles, which may not match the ideals of your co-workers or practice owner. The good news: You're in a great position to help establish ethical protocols and procedures and help create guidelines for appropriate conduct for everyone in your practice. Here's how.
Share ideas from the beginning. "When you start on the same page, you eliminate many of the inevitable conflicts that compromise patient care," says Sheila Grosdidier, RVT, a partner with VMC Inc. in Evergreen, Colo. So talk it out at a team meeting, and get specific. For example, you probably all agree it's bad to hit an animal, but what's the appropriate level of restraint for an aggressive dog?
Review old policies. If you already have established ethical standards in your employee handbook, review them. The handbook should outline policies for attendance, vacation time, travel, performance evaluation, continuing education, and promotions, as well as certain conduct and care principles, such as employees' behavior during company time, non-discrimination, and sexual harassment.
Stay on your toes. Often, day-to-day issues and general practice behaviors aren't covered in the handbook; rather, they're determined by the natural dynamic of the current team. A solid code of ethics will help direct these behaviors and ensure everyone in the practice starts with the same ethical framework. It won't provide answers for every ethical dilemma, but it will provide guidance to help you act in ways that benefit everyone—your patients, clients, team members, and practice.