If you are like most healthcare executives, you and your organization regularly face a broad range of ethical conflicts or questions. How you address these ethical conflicts reflects both your personal values and those of your organization. As a healthcare leader, it is up to you to ensure that an ethics-focused culture is interwoven into the life of the organization, including your policies, performance measures, management behavior, and clinician/patient actions.

An ethics-focused culture consists of two fundamental components: 1) an established set of shared values, including a mission statement, code of ethics, values statement, and ethical guidelines and practices, and 2) an effective ethics infrastructure, including an ethics program that assists decision makers and others when the ethical guidelines are not enough, when there is uncertainty about the proper ethical approach, and when there is a need to develop additional ethical guidelines. ACHE’s Ethics Toolkit provides tools for developing both parts of an ethical culture. Understanding how to use ACHE’s Code of Ethics and Ethical Policy Statements, for example, can help you develop and enhance such resources in your organization, while using the organizational ethics decision-making process can help you address specific ethical conflicts when they arise.

Benefits of an Ethical Culture

Healthcare organizations that foster and demand an ethical environment experience:

  • Increased patient satisfaction
  • Improved employee morale
  • Positive public and community relations
  • Enhanced professionalism
  • Better compliance with regulatory requirements
But ethics cannot be left to chance; an ethical organization will not just somehow evolve. Rather, it is the result of ethical leadership, continuous reflection and planning, ongoing monitoring, and accessible, competent ethics resources.

To that end, ACHE developed the Ethics Toolkit to provide practical resources to help healthcare executives understand how to integrate ethics into their organizations. These tools can support healthcare leaders in the day-to-day practice of exemplary leadership.

ACHE's Ethics Toolkit:
  • Provides guidance in understanding and applying ACHE’s Code of Ethics, Ethics Self-Assessment, and Ethical Policy Statements
  • Delineates a concrete process through which to respond to organizational ethical challenges
  • Suggests additional readings and guidelines, and offers links to online ethics resources that can augment decision making

We hope that these resources will help healthcare leaders promote and clarify ethical standards of practice throughout their organization and the field of healthcare management.

If you have any feedback about the Ethics Toolkit or about ACHE’s ethical resources, please contact Deborah J. Bowen, FACHE, CAE, executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Click here to go back to the Ethics Toolkit table of contents.