Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Integrated Ethics: More than following the rules

Rosemary Flanigan
January 28, 2009

I was happy to read in Health Progress (Jan-Feb, 2009) that Ron Hamel of Catholic Health Association praised the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ model for integrating ethics throughout its many institutions.

The model addresses three levels: decisions and actions, systems and processes, and environment and culture. I especially like the emphasis on leadership in creating the environment and culture.

What behaviors of leaders foster such a culture? They talk about ethics, encourage ethical discussions; they communicate clear expectations for ethical practice by recognizing when expectations need to be clarified, being explicit, giving examples, and explaining underlying values; they practice ethical decision-making by identifying decisions that raise ethical concerns, addressing ethical decisions systematically, and explaining the reasoning behind decisions; and finally they support the local ethics program by knowing what it is (!!!)and what it does.

I know two of our discussion group are connected with VA hospitals—Nina out in Salina, KS and Terry here in KC. I’d love to hear the two of you tell us if the program is working!!!

The Center has long pushed for integrated ethics programs. Dear Robert Potter wrote and spoke extensively on the issue.

THANKS. Any comments from the rest of you?

Link: Fostering an Ethical Culture: Rules Are Not Enough, Ron Hamel, PhD, Health Progress, January/February 2009

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