Ethics Self-Assessment

Purpose of the Ethics Self-Assessment

Affiliates of the American College of Healthcare Executives agree, as a condition of membership, to abide by ACHE’s Code of Ethics. The Code provides an overall standard of conduct and includes specific standards of ethical behavior to guide healthcare executives in their professional relationships.

Based on the Code of Ethics, the Ethics Self-Assessment is intended for your personal use to assist you in thinking about your ethics-related leadership and actions. It should not be returned to ACHE nor should it be used as a tool for evaluating the ethical behavior of others.

The Ethics Self-Assessment can help you identify those areas in which you are on strong ethical ground; areas that you may wish to examine the basis for your responses; and opportunities for further reflection. The Ethics Self-Assessment does not have a scoring mechanism, as we do not believe that ethical behavior can or should be quantified.

How to use this self-assessment

We hope you find this self-assessment thought-provoking and useful as a part of your reflection on applying the ACHE Code of Ethics to your everyday activities. You are to be commended for taking time out of your busy schedule to complete it.

Once you have finished the self-assessment, it is suggested that you review your responses, noting which questions you answered “usually,” “occasionally” and “almost never.” You may find that in some cases an answer of “usually” is satisfactory, but in other cases such as when answering a question about protecting staff’s well-being, an answer of “usually” may raise an ethical red flag.

We are confident that you will uncover few red flags where your responses are not compatible with the ACHE Code of Ethics. For those you may discover, you should use it as an opportunity to enhance your ethical practice and leadership by developing a specific action plan. For example, you may have noted in the self-assessment that you have not used your organization’s ethics mechanism to assist you in addressing challenging ethical conflicts. As a result of this insight you might meet with the chair of the ethics committee to better understand the committee’s functions, including case consultation activities, and how you might access this resource when future ethical conflicts arise.

We also want you to consider ACHE as a resource when you and your management team are confronted with difficult ethical dilemmas. In the About ACHE area, you can access an Ethics Toolkit, a group of practical resources that will help you understand how to integrate ethics into your organization. In addition, you can refer to our regular “Healthcare Management Ethics” column in Healthcare Executive magazine, and you may want to consider attending our annual ethics seminar.

Please check one answer for each of the following questions.

Almost Never/Occasionally/Usually/Always/Not Applicable

I. Leadership

I take courageous, consistent and appropriate management actions to overcome barriers to achieving my organization’s mission.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I place community/patient benefit over my personal gain.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I strive to be a role model for ethical behavior.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I work to ensure that decisions about access to care are based primarily on medical necessity, not only on the ability to pay.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

My statements and actions are consistent with professional ethical standards, including the ACHE Code of Ethics.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

My statements and actions are honest even when circumstances would allow me to confuse the issues.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I advocate ethical decision making by the board, management team and medical staff.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I use an ethical approach to conflict resolution.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I initiate and encourage discussion of the ethical aspects of management/financial issues.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I initiate and promote discussion of controversial issues affecting community/patient health (e.g., domestic and community violence and decisions near the end of life).

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I promptly and candidly explain to internal and external stakeholders negative economic trends and encourage appropriate action.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I use my authority solely to fulfill my responsibilities and not for self-interest or to further the interests of family, friends or associates.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

When an ethical conflict confronts my organization or me, I am successful in finding an effective resolution process and ensure it is followed.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I demonstrate respect for my colleagues, superiors and staff.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I demonstrate my organization’s vision, mission and value statements in my actions.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I make timely decisions rather than delaying them to avoid difficult or politically risky choices.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I seek the advice of the ethics committee when making ethically challenging decisions.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A

 

My personal expense reports are accurate and are only billed to a single organization.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I openly support establishing and monitoring internal mechanisms (e.g., an ethics committee or program) to support ethical decision making.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I thoughtfully consider decisions when making a promise on behalf of the organization to a person or a group of people.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 
II. Relationships
Community

I promote community health status improvement as a guiding goal of my organization and as a cornerstone of my efforts on behalf of my organization.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I personally devote time to developing solutions to community health problems.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I participate in and encourage my management team to devote personal time to community service.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
Patients and Their Families

I use a patient- and family-centered approach to patient care.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 
I am a patient advocate on both clinical and financial matters.
Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 
I ensure equitable treatment of patients regardless of socio-economic group or payor category.
Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I respect the practices and customs of a diverse patient population while maintaining the organization’s mission.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 
I demonstrate through organizational policies and personal actions that overtreatment and undertreatment of patients are unacceptable.
Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 
I protect patients’ rights to autonomy, clinical efficacy, and full information about their illnesses, treatment options, and related costs.
Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 
I promote medical record confidentiality and do not tolerate breaches of this confidentiality.
Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 
Board

I have a routine system in place for board members to make full disclosure and reveal potential conflicts of interest.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I ensure that reports to the board, my own or others’, appropriately convey risks of decisions or proposed projects.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I work to keep the board focused on ethical issues of importance to the organization, community and other stakeholders.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I keep the board appropriately informed of patient safety and quality indicators.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I promote board discussion of resource allocation issues, particularly those where organizational and community interests may appear to be incompatible.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I keep the board appropriately informed about issues of alleged financial malfeasance, clinical malpractice and potential litigious situations involving employees.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 
Colleagues and Staff

I foster discussions about ethical concerns when they arise.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I maintain confidences entrusted to me.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I demonstrate through personal actions and organizational policies zero tolerance for any form of staff harassment.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I encourage discussions about and advocate for the implementation of the organization’s code of ethics and value statements.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I fulfill the promises I make.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I am respectful of views different from mine.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I am respectful of individuals who differ from me in ethnicity, gender, education or job position.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I convey negative news promptly and openly, not allowing employees or others to be misled.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I expect and hold staff accountable for adherence to our organization’s ethical standards (e.g., performance reviews).

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I demonstrate that incompetent supervision is not tolerated and make timely decisions regarding marginally performing managers.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I ensure adherence to ethics-related policies and practices affecting patients and staff.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I am sensitive to employees who have ethical concerns and facilitate resolution of these concerns.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I encourage the use of organizational mechanisms (e.g., an ethics committee or program) and other ethics resources to address ethical issues.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I act quickly and decisively when employees are not treated fairly in their relationships with other employees.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I assign staff only to official duties and do not ask them to assist me with work on behalf of my family, friends or associates.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I hold all staff and clinical/business partners accountable for compliance with professional standards, including ethical behavior.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 
Clinicians

When problems arise with clinical care, I ensure that the problems receive prompt attention and resolution by the responsible parties.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I insist that my organization’s clinical practice guidelines are consistent with our vision, mission, value statements and ethical standards of practice.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

When practice variations in care suggest quality of care is at stake, I encourage timely actions that serve patients’ interests.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I insist that participating clinicians and staff live up to the terms of managed care contracts.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I encourage clinicians to access ethics resources when ethical conflicts occur.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I encourage resource allocation that is equitable, is based on clinical needs and appropriately balances patient needs and organizational/clinical resources.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I expeditiously and forthrightly deal with impaired clinicians and take necessary action when I believe a clinician is not competent to perform his/her clinical duties.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I expect and hold clinicians accountable for adhering to their professional and the organization’s ethical practices.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 
Buyers, Payors and Suppliers

I negotiate and expect my management team to negotiate in good faith.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I am mindful of the importance of avoiding even the appearance of wrongdoing, conflict of interest, or interference with free competition.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I personally disclose and expect board members, staff members and clinicians to disclose any possible conflicts of interests before pursuing or entering into relationships with potential business partners.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I promote familiarity and compliance with organizational policies governing relationships with buyers, payors and suppliers.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A
 

I set an example for others in my organization by not accepting personal gifts from suppliers.

Almost Never
Occasionally
Usually
Always
N/A

After you’ve completed the self-assessment:

Now that you have finished the self-assessment, you will want to review your responses, noting which questions you answered “usually,” “occasionally,” and “almost never.” You may find that in some cases, an answer of “usually” is satisfactory , but in other cases, such as when answering a question about protecting staff's well-being, an answer of “usually” may raise an “ethical red flag.” You will note that the instrument does not have a scoring mechanism; this is intentional. We do not believe that ethical behavior can or should be quantified.

We are confident that you will uncover few red flags and that if you do, you will willingly and appropriately address them. We also want you to consider your professional society as an additional resource when you and your management teams are confronted with difficult ethical dilemmas. You should find our regular “Healthcare Management Ethics” column in Healthcare Executive magazine a useful resource as well as ACHE’s Ethical Policy Statements. In addition, you may wish to refer to the Ethics Bibliography, which we have compiled for your use. Finally, you may want to consider attending our annual ethics seminar.