Ethics Whisperer

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dumb Policies

I have tried to keep things pretty high minded here, but I have to let off a little steam.

I probably spent half of last year reading ill-conceived policies and procedures. Reading policies is part of my job and I always try to take a fresh look at any policies I am asked to read. Now healthcare organizations often have no idea what policies they have. I guess this tells you how important the policies are to the day-to-day activities of the organization. I read one policy that was nearly 100 pages long, obviously drafted at great expense by outside counsel to the organization. How truly DUMB  do you have to be to write 100 page policy!!!! And the organization paid for this exercise that would have received a C- in law school. GRRR!!!!!

Why are we writing these policies? Why doesn't it matter to the people who write them if anyone can understand them.  I think a lot of times the person writing the policy imagines themselves waving the policy in front of the jury or a prosecutor and saying, "You can clearly see that we don't condone this!" In 40 years in this business in every type of situation you can imagine, I am 100% certain that this situation has never arisen.

I hold the compliance officers to blame too. Part of your job is get employees and others to act in accordance with the policies and procedures. If no one, including you, can actually discern what the policy says, how can you hold people accountable to these policies?

I actually think it might be better to run a company with no policies and procedures and hold people accountable for their decisions. Would there be legal risks in doing this? Sure. But it might be worth it to have a company in which people are accountable.

copyright 2013 Mark Pastin