Comparison on ethical standards of securing business information between healthcare and non healthcare industries

Comparison on ethical standards of securing business information between healthcare and non healthcare industries. Comparison on ethical standards of securing business information between healthcare and non healthcare industries.ABSTRACT.The essence of the work is to analyze the essential difference between the ethical standard between the health care sector when compared to the other non health care sector like the commercial, technological, commercial and other sectors. It discusses ethical regulations, legislations and the extent of the administration of these rules in those sectors. It posits that the health care sector maintains a high standard ethical practice, especially in the medical, pharmaceutical and a few paramedical fields.It distinguishes as well as defines clearly the concept of ethics and law and how they are legislated in a few selected establishments.A deep insight was thrown to illuminate on the contentious disclosure law as a strong ethical question in the health care industry. Equally, the issue of consent and privacy rules was also dealt with in a manner that is detailed. Not only that, the paper explained how information can be protected from physical and electronic abuse.A lucid comparison of the health care and the non health care ethics in securing information was analyzed. They are equally contrasted.Far reaching recommendations by way of suggesting for the extension of the high quality ethical standard in the major health sector to other branches like the paramedical. Not only that, the recent development in electronics assessment and dissemination of business information need to be regulated and legislated. Finally, there is need for simplification of all ethical legislating and regulating information to be made available to everybody who so desires.INTRODUCTION.The complexity and strategic importance of the entire healthcare industry has made it possible for them to take the forefront in setting earlier high standard in ethics in securing business information in the healthcare sector. Being a special sector, it requires extreme careful effort and knowledge in management of its operation when compared with ethical management in other non health care industries.On the contrary, adherence to ethics in securing business information in the non health care field of activities are largely backward and poor. Such issues as privacy concern, information data security, confidentiality, consistent trustworthiness, had not been enshrines as much in the non health care sector. They are still worlds apart.Every industrial ethics demands establishment and implementation of labor laws, ethics that will guide even its finances, management, training and other best practice that must be complied with as far as the profession is concerned. Whereas, the commercial, technological and other industrial sector are ethically governed by corporate regulations and social responsibilities, the health care sector, which deals with the more serious issues of providing medication for human and veterinary sciences requires more serious and stringent ethical standard compliance.This paper will attempt to examine by way of comparison, the ethical standards set in securing business information in the two industries mentioned above. It will take into account the major differences in ethical practice between the two sectors. It will examine the theories supporting the various ethical standards, and also analyze the different opinions shared. At the end, it will compare and contrast a critical view of the similarities and differences in both sectors.Every responsible activity in any organized sector of human endeavor requires some form of regulation. Whether is it written or unwritten, legally documented or morally documented, and so the two areas under consideration identified above is not an exception. In consonance with observing high degree of high ethical standard in matters of securing business information in matters of health care administration, the healthcare industries had built an impressive degree of legislative documentation to guide its operation effectively. We believe it is because they understand the fact that their responsibility of being in charge of human life, handling sick people, treating ailments and interacting with sensitive issues involving human life and well being that made their ethical standard to be so advanced. They understand the vital role securing information will play in making people develop trust and confidence in the health care and medical practitioners.As stated above, we shall be carrying out a comparison on the two areas. To start, we shall first try to be detailed in understanding what ethics and law are, and how they relate to the topic under consideration. This will enable us know how to base our judgments in the comparison. We shall also attempt to distinguish the difference between ethics and law; give a definition and point out the relationship between them. Is ethics regulated? What are the codes of ethics, and what are those potential conflicts that are likely to arise? We shall find out about all these.Also, we shall discuss the major differences between the ethical standards within the health care and non health care industries. We shall explore the similarities they share, as well as the dissimilarities or their areas of contrast.In addition, we shall be taking a detailed look into the code of practice in both field’s areas and see where there is smoothness and lacuna in their practical applicability in our everyday life. At the end we shall give our recommendation on possible areas of improvement by way of giving recommendations.WHAT THEN IS ETHICS?To have a fair assessment of ethical standard of any field of interest, it is important to understand what ethics is all about. That is what informs these background analyses.There is a strong closeness that exists between law and ethics. If a close look is not taken they will almost mean the same thing, yet they differ. In many ways, law and ethics overlap and what is perceived as unethical could also be illegal. In other situations, they do not overlap. In some cases, what is perceived as unethical is still legal, and in others, what is illegal is perceived as ethical. These looks like a confusing logic, but they make sense. A behavior or character may be looked upon as ethical to one person or group but might not be perceived as ethical by another. Further complicating this dichotomy of behavior, laws may have been legislated, effectively stating the government’s position, and presumably the community, profession or majority opinion, on the behavior. As a result, in today’s different business environment, one must consider that in actual fact, law and ethics are not necessarily the same thing.DEFINITION OF LAW AND ETHICSAs quoted in Legal Information Institute, (1999). Law can be defined as a consistent set of universal rules that are widely published, generally accepted, and usually enforced. These rules describe the ways in which people are required to act in their relationships with others in a society. They are requirements to act in a given way, not just expectations or suggestions to act in that way. Since the government establishes law, the government can use police powers to enforce laws. The following chart defines the terms in the definition of law above.• Consistent: If two requirements contradict each other, both cannot be termed a law, because people cannot obey both.• Universal: The requirements must be applicable to every one with similar characteristics facing the same set of circumstances.• Published: The requirements have to be published, in written form, so that they are accessible to everyone within the society.• Accepted: The requirements have to be generally obeyed.• Enforced: Members of society must be compelled to obey the law if they do not choose to do so voluntarily.As noted by Anstead, S.M. (1999), The word ethics is derived from the Greek word ethos (character), and from the Latin word mores (customs). Both combine to define how individuals choose to interact with one another. In philosophy, ethics defines what is good for the individual and for society and establishes the nature of duties that people owe themselves and one another. Take note of the following items, they are common features of ethics:• Ethics involves learning what is right and wrong, and then doing the right thing.• Most ethical decisions have extended consequences.• Most ethical decisions have multiple alternatives.• Most ethical decisions have mixed outcomes.• Most ethical decisions have uncertain consequences.• Most ethical decisions have personal implications.It is equally essential to note that there is also a dis-similarity between ethics and morality. Morality refers both to the standards of behavior by which individuals are judged, and to the standards of behavior by which people in general are judged in their relationships with others. Ethics, on the other hand, encompasses the system of beliefs that supports a particular view of morality. Anstead, (1999)The Relation Between Law and EthicsEthical values and legal principles are usually closely related, but ethical obligations typically exceed legal duties. In some cases, the law mandates ethical conduct. Examples of the application of law or policy to ethics include employment law, federal regulations, and codes of ethics.Although law most times embodies ethical principles, law and ethics are far from co-extensive. The law does not prohibit many acts that would be widely condemned as unethical. And the contrary is true as well. The law also disallows acts that some groups would see as ethical. For example lying or betraying the confidence of a friend is not illegal, but most people would consider it unacceptable and as such, unethical. Yet, speeding is illegal, but many people do not have an ethical conflict with exceeding the speed limit. Law is not just codifying ethical norms, it goes much more than that.The following illustration by McNamara, C. (1999), depicts the relationship between law and ethics.Establishing a set of ethical guidelines for detecting, resolving, and forestalling ethical breaches often prevents a company from getting into subsequent legal conflicts. Having demonstrated a more positive approach to the problem may also ensure that punishment for legal violations will be less severe. Federal sentencing guidelines passed in 1991 permit judges to reduce fines and jail time for executives proportionate to the ethical measures a company has taken.The Legislation of Ethics.The code of conducts which everyone had identified and agreed that is good to observe must be written down in a document, and be revered as a guiding principle. It then becomes a law. In many fields, especially the non health care sectors, there is no form of legislation or regulation of ethical standards. By virtue of being an adult or belonging to that environment doing that particular business, the good ethics regarding securing information or any other matter, but the reality is that this ethics are never written down. People know them by heart and obey them as they will.Numerous laws have been enacted to protect employees against what society perceives as unethical behavior in the workplace. These laws are administered by the United States Department of Labor. Generally, these laws reflect the ethical standards of the majority of society. An example is the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). According to the ADA (1990)“No covered entity shall discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability because of the disability of such individual with regard to job application procedures, the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.”Most people would not dispute the fact that it would be unethical to deny employment or promotion to a disabled applicant, solely on the basis of that disability, especially when that disability would not affect their work performance. In this issue under consideration, a business man who had been taken into confidence and have a business partner confide in him will not have any sense of obligation to keep such information away from others. This is because there is no legislation that compels him to do that. On the contrary, the medical profession for example is under obligation to keep everything his patient told him in confidence in secret. He is reacting to the legislated and codified ethics that guides his profession.Ethics Regulations for Employees of Establishments.Executive branch employees are subject to statutes and regulations commonly referred to as “ethics” standards. Through these statutes, the government has established legally enforceable rules on ethical behavior. The two basic sources of these standards are the criminal conflict of interest statutes and the administrative standards of ethical conduct.• Chapter 11 of Title 18, United States Code is an example of a Criminal Conflict of Interest Statute. The conflict of interest statutes prohibit a Federal employee from engaging in certain types of activities that would place the employee’s own personal interests above the Federal Government’s interests. The essence of securing business information is to protect the interest of both parties. That is the principal and the partner, the doctor and his patient. The interest of the entire field of profession is better served if they learn to keep information told them in secret without divulging them.The Code of Federal Regulations Part 2635 is an example of Administrative Standards of Ethical Conduct Regulation. The standards of conduct regulation establish principles of ethical conduct for employees within the executive branch. The regulation not only identifies the principles but also provides easy to understand examples of how the principles apply. The standards of conduct cover such topics as:• gifts from outside sources• gifts between employees• conflicting financial interests• impartiality in performing official duties• seeking other employment• misuse of position• outside activitiesCodes of EthicsPrivate Companies, organizations, associations and professional bodies frequently establish their own Codes of Ethics. These may be formally written or understood. Although the government does not enforce these Codes, they are enforced internally. Violation of the Codes alone can, in some instances, be grounds for termination. The following tables show examples of such Codes from The Jet Propulsion Laboratory Ethics Program, (1999)The Jet Propulsion Laboratory Ethics Program:I will conduct all business dealings with fairness, honesty and integrity.I will protect all information and resources available to me from loss, theft, and misuse.I will avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest or any other impropriety.I will treat my fellow employees fairly and with dignity and respect.I will help create and sustain an atmosphere conducive to the spirit of this code.AMA Principles of Medical Ethics are as follows”A physician shall be dedicated to providing competent medical service with compassion and respect for human dignity.A physician shall deal honestly with patients and colleagues, and strive to expose those physicians deficient in character or competence, or who engage in fraud or deception.A physician shall respect the law and recognize a responsibility to seek changes in those requirements which are contrary to the best interests of the patient.A physician shall respect the rights of patients, of colleagues, and of other health professionals, and shall safeguard patient confidences within the constraints of the law.A physician shall continue to study, apply, and advance scientific knowledge, make relevant information available to patients, colleagues, and the public, obtain consultation, and use the talents of other health professionals when indicated.A physician shall, in provision of appropriate patient care, except in emergencies, be free to choose whom to serve, with whom to associate, and the environment in which to provide medical services.A physician shall recognize a responsibility to participate in activities contributing to an improved community.Potential ConflictsSome activities and beliefs may be legal, but not perceived as ethical. Marriott Corporation maintains very comprehensive ethics standards to which their employees must abide. Their Corporate Dress Code is an example. Several years ago, the orientation program at Marriott Corporate Headquarters included a presentation on what was and was not considered acceptable appearance in the company. Some requirements included:• Women could not wear skirts any shorter than 4 inches above the knee.• Women could show no bare leg. Either long pants or hose were required at all times.• Women’s shoulders could not be exposed.• Men’s hair could not reach their collar, except for religious reasons.• Men could not wear earrings.Although these rules were part of company policy, there is nothing illegal about any one of these items. However, in the Marriott Corporate culture, each was considered unethical.Another example is the manufacturing practices of Nike, (1998), one of the largest manufacturers of athletics sportswear in the world. Nike produces the majority of its goods in South East Asia. Despite the profits of the Nike organization, its foreign workers are paid substandard wages and work long hours in appalling conditions. In 1996, the entry-level wage at one of these factories was $2.20 a day. Labor groups estimate that a livable wage in Indonesia is about $4.25 a day. Compare this with the pay of one of Nike’s celebrity promoters, Michael Jordan, who gets $20 million a year to promote Nike sneakers. Jordan’s compensation alone is more than the annual income of 20,000 workers who make Nike shoes.Nike’s manufacturing practices are not illegal. There is nothing that says a company cannot take its manufacturing operations outside the United States. And as long as the company is meeting the minimum wage standards of the host country, there is nothing illegal about paying low wages. However, most Americans would look at these practices as unethical, especially considering the profits of Nike and their spending on celebrity promoters.On the other hand, there are some behaviors which are illegal, but widely perceived as ethical. One example is taking office supplies from the company supply cabinet for personal use. Legally, this is considered theft, but many people see no moral or ethical problem and do it anyway.Another example is buying a copyrighted software program and installing it on multiple computers. Technically, this violates Federal copyright laws. Yet, the piracy of software is widespread, even in corporations that consider themselves ethical.Federal copyright law protects software from the moment of its creation. This is stated in the Copyright Act, Title 17 of the US Code. The Act gives the owner of the copyright “the exclusive rights” to “reproduce the copyrighted work” and “to distribute copies … of the copyrighted work”. It also states that “anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner … is an infringer of the copyright”, and sets forth several penalties for violation of a copyright. Those who purchase a license for a copy of software do not have the right to make additional copies without the permission of the copyright owner, except to:• copy the software onto a single computer, or• make another copy for archival purposesAlthough many people would write off the impact of software piracy in order to justify their belief that it is ethical, an annual study on global software piracy shows that the impact is great. The study estimates that, of the 615 million new business software applications installed worldwide during 1998, 231 million, or 38%, were pirated. They estimate that this resulted in an $11 billion loss to software companies.We may be right to conclude that, there is a solid relationship between law and ethics, and this relationship is important in management. Managers must evaluate not only what is legal, but what they, their employees, and society consider ethical as well. It is necessary here to that companies must also consider what behaviors, attitudes and manners their customers will and will not accept.The news is full of stories regarding the ethical issues with which companies are being confronted, such as the practices of Nike, as outlined above. No company wants to be forced to defend itself over ethical issues involving wages, the environment, working issues, or human relations. Managers play a vital role in a company’s legal and ethical performance. It is in part their responsibility to ensure that their employees are abiding by Federal, State, and Local laws, as well as any ethical codes established at the company. But most importantly, the managers must provide a positive example to their employees of proper behavior in light of laws and ethical codes.Certainly, policies and procedures will never be developed to satisfy everyone, but the establishment of Codes of Ethics will at least provide a framework for ethical behavior, and allow customers to evaluate the type of company with whom they are doing business. With this knowledge, employees and customers must decide whether or not they are willing and able to conform to these Codes, as well as to the laws that have been enacted. Managers cannot simply limit their decisions to following the law. They must also consider the ethics of their employees and customers.We have taken the pain to go through the above details to enable us to appreciate what and how ethics apply in other aspects of life. But in this study we are limited to the healthcare and non healthcare industries., focusing to their ethical standards in securing information.THE STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF DISCLOSURE LAW AS A BASIC ETHICS IN HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY WITH SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO SECURING INFORMATION.It must be agreed that the health sector is one delicate, and even complicated sector of a national life that requires utmost handling with care. It bothers on the life of the individuals, their health and well-beings, as well as even the animals in it. So, the management of it requires competence and very high standard of management level. Not only that, it is the sector that handles the human data as is concerned with documented records of health, ailment ailments, the treatment and handling of it. Both for the subjects and the animals.So here the question of law and regulations to govern securing this information in the best interest of the stakeholders must inevitably be involved. What are the ethical rules governing security of these data and information, research and enquiries into them, while protecting the rights of all concerned is what we shall be exploring here.According to Sage, W.M. (2000), Laws requiring health plans, hospitals, and physicians to disclose extensive information to their customers or the broader public have become extremely popular. The reason for this lies in politics, not policy: disclosure laws suggest a less intrusive role for government and greater reliance on individual choice and free markets than do other oversight mechanisms. This strikes a responsive chord in today’s anti-regulatory political climate. At a policy level, however, few health care disclosure laws have been carefully designed to achieve specific objectives.An important manifestation of this process of regulatory diversification is the rising popularity of laws that require disclosure of information to patients and consumers. As Marshall, M.N., P.G. Shekelle, S. Leatherman, and R.H. Brook. (2000) explained, particularly in response to the growth of managed care, comprehensive information requirements have been added to enrollment oversight of insurance companies, HMOs, and ERISA plans; to regulation ensuring the quality and safety of hospitals and physicians; and to the law governing treatment decisions by patients.The principal problem with current health care disclosure laws, however, is that they are scattershot, reflecting short-term political compromises or the equities of individual lawsuits rather than a coherent understanding of the purposes served by mandatory disclosure and the conditions necessary to achieve desired effects. So it is obvious that managing and securing business information is a whole lot of serious issues.However, disclosure enthusiasts often point to the federal securities laws as a model, and suggest that Congress create for health care a regulatory agency similar to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). Indeed, securities regulation can shed light on the pros and cons of using information disclosure to guarantee accountability. But well-designed information requirements can serve therapeutic goals regarding openness, trust, and participation and can remind physicians and other health professionals of the tensions between their daily practice environment and their overarching ethical obligations.The procedure is that government must work with health care providers to establish priorities for performance improvement, educate the public about social issues inherent in health care decisions, and refrain from allowing budgetary interests to intrude unduly on citizens’ rights to privacy and self-determination. These are some of the basic issues that must be put to mind in understanding the important role the health care sector is playing in securing and managing information.There is also another dimension, the economic theory, which does not require every purchaser to be fully informed to yield overall efficiency. The SEC has had to accept the fact that the meaning of intricate corporate disclosure may elude unsophisticated recipients, especially as larger segments of the population purchase securities. It has become obvious that, the absence of a secondary market pricing mechanism in health care reduces the ability of a few sophisticated parties such as large employers or government purchasers to discipline the entire market (and those few have lesser incentives to achieve informational superiority.In the words of Baird, D.G. Gertner R.H. and Picker R.C. (1994).Still, overcoming the current degree of public ignorance is a weighty challenge for a disclosure regime. This is particularly true because the least educated users of health care often have the greatest health needs and are vulnerable both to risk-selection in insurance and to substandard provision of care¡¨.The federal security laws establishing disclosure law, as pointed out by Sage, W.M. (1999), suggested four core reasons for its necessity, which are to:• Facilitating market competition• Monitoring agents and intermediaries• Improving corporate governanceWe have taken the time to explain what these disclosure law is as it is the basis upon which the job of a health care officer’s ability to comply to his ethical demands revolves. Again, it can serve varied and sophisticated purposes, but only if objectives are clearly articulated and laws carefully designed to achieve them. Dealing with the science of human and even veterinary without proper enabling regulatory laws will only lead to frustrations and conflicts. This is the foundation and understanding upon which this write-up will commence.DIVERSITY IN ETHICAL STANDARD IN HEALTH CARE AND NON HEALTH CARE SECTORS.Every sector in the health delivery field has governing ethics that regulates its operations. Be it optometry, anatomy, veterinary or the paramedic sectors. But the rule is basically the same. There are bodies that oversee and manage, as well as securing the interest, survival and maintenance of these ethical standards. In the same way, the non health care sector like the field of technology, law, business and commerce, sports, have their own ethical standards governing them.Every one who operates in that field of life has a moral or compulsive obligation to play by the rule. Every such organized body is governed by sets of rules. It could be rules concerning finances, training, membership, qualification for certification, regulation of standards of practice. It could be as diverse as the scope of the organization is. The fact and reality to be noted here is that every member, and all those who desires to be responsibly associated with such a body must abide by the ethics of such profession in good conscience, and may even be willing to be sanctioned and disciplined when the need calls for it.For example, lawyers believe that advertising their profession will have dire consequences. David, H. (2005). So it is expected that no lawyer will be so hungry for patronage as to put up an advert to improve his number of brief. That will be professionally wrong. There are instances where a violation of an ethical standard does not constitute a punishable offence, but will be a moral burden on such an individual. If it is agreed that lawyers must appear noble like a gentle cultured man, or even a deviant lawyer decide to go on publicity as to put up an advertisement in the papers or electronic media, there is no law that recommends prosecution. But his colleagues will look down on him, or at least view such actions with disdain.On the other hand, a civil engineer who opts to carry out a shoddy job to a client may be free for a while. But if per adventure such a building collapses with time, he may be sought out and may face possible prosecution. However, the reality is that as the name is, ethical standards hardly have strong bite from the law enforcement agencies. The reason being that they are merely regulations and unwritten understandings.On the other hand, most health sector fields are very strict in adherence and implementation of their ethics of practice. The reason is quite obvious. The health sector has very strong relationship with maintaining human life, human health, hygiene, animal life, environmental concern, etc. So laxity, negligence, deliberate omission and commission may lead to casualties and unintended sad consequences. So it could be conceded the ethics in the health care sector had a more stringent bite than the other counterpart. A doctor who violated his code of practice, or carries out action that is not inconformity with the rule of practice will stand the risk of being have his license withdrawnIn preface of his book, The Ethics of human resources, Budd, J.W. (2005), had this to say,“In the business and economic spheres, many of the most pressing ethical issues involve the employment relationship, such as the rights of employees versus ER shareholders, employee privacy and monitoring, whistle blowing, pay equity, discrimination, employee safety, anti-union campaigns, and minimum labor standards. Since the field of human resources and industrial relations is ultimately about people and quality of life, there is a pressing need to develop applications of business ethics for the employment relationship in the context of research, practice, and teaching.”In recent years, by following media coverage of many scandals of accounting and accountability, the public has gained a greater understanding of what can happen when businesses do not adhere to ethical practices. It is now time for the human resources and industrial relations communities to explore the application of ethics to the employment relationship and to discover the importance of treating employees, not just numbers, properly. This goes to show that the issue of observing ethics in profession is gradually taking a more serious dimension.THE ISSUE OF CONSCENT.The Privacy Rule establishes a federal requirement that most doctors, hospitals, or other health care providers obtain a patient’s written consent before using or disclosing the patient’s personal health information to carry out treatment, payment, or health care operations (TPO). (Sage 2000). Today, many health care providers, for professional or ethical reasons, routinely obtain a patient’s consent for disclosure of information to insurance companies or for other purposes. The Privacy Rule builds on these practices by establishing a uniform standard for certain health care providers to obtain their patients’ consent for uses and disclosures of health information about the patient to carry out TPO.General Provisions.• Patient consent is required before a covered health care provider thatComparison on ethical standards of securing business information between healthcare and non healthcare industries