Samuel Kohan: Medical Practice Staffing & Operations I

Why a medical practice should develop and implement a code of conduct for employees?
By: Samuel Kohan
Nov. 12, 2011 - PRLog -- Generally, there is no legal mandate  requiring business  entities to create a written “code of conduct policy” for their employees or to distribute such a policy to their employees. However, absence of a legal requirement does not negate the fact that any business exercising its right to employ others can be held legally accountable for the conduct of those employees. For instance, when a business is sued for the conduct of its employee(s) the presence of the code and familiarity of employees with the code of conduct of the company can be used as a defence for the company in a legal action. If the employee’s conduct violated the company’s code of conduct policy then the company can reduce, if not eliminate, the potential liability by arguing that the employee’s conduct was not sanctioned by the company.  Businesses, through development and proper implementation of an effective and well written code of conduct for their employees, can reduce the scope of their liability that may be caused by their employees’ conduct.

Aside from legalistic nature inherent in a “code of conduct policy”, it an essential business practice to communicate organization‘s expectation(s) very clearly to employees. A medical practice that fails to implement employee code of conduct inadvertently invites chaos and poor employee morale. An element of chaos is confusion and uncertainty of what to expect. Rules that are consistently adhered to and enforced at all level of a medical practice would reduce confusion and create clear expectations and trust among employees.

Who must comply with company’s code of conduct?
Everyone in the company must comply with the code of conduct. The code is named for the employees, but employees do closely monitor senior management, leadership and particularly the business owners regarding actual compliance with the code. Slightest deviation from the code by the business owner(s) sends a message to employees to do the same and perhaps more. The code can help with improving the morale among employees; therefore, it is fundamental to enforce consistency in communication and enforcement of the code.

Is there a guideline for developing a code of conduct for a medical practice?
No. There is no guideline for developing a code of conduct. A medical practice should develop a code of conduct to meet its specific requirements for employee behaviors.

Who should develop the code of conduct for a medical practice?
Medical practices that encourage team approach to developing a code of conduct find better reception from the employees in the implementation phase. It is recommended to encourage employees to take part in development or the periodic review and re-issue of the code. If employees feel left out of such a process or their concerns are not properly addressed the implementation of the code would be burdensome.

Depending on the size of the medical practice, the leadership of the practice should direct formation of a team consisting of direct service provides, supervisors, managers, executives and the physicians. Participation in the team should be voluntary for all employees; however a limitation on number of employee volunteers can be established. The team gathers all suggestions and concerns from all employees and physicians and then develops recommendations for the code development or for revision of an existing one and then forwards the final version of the code to the executive leadership for approval. The leadership would either approve the recommendations or reject and explain in writing to the team the reasons for the rejection.

See part II of this issue for a sample code.
Source:Samuel Kohan
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