CMSA Today - Issue 4, 2012 - (Page 27)

CMSA Ethics Casebook Some Ethical of Professional Dimensions Development BY JOHN BANJA, Ph.D. have to learn to convert hav principles into actual pracprinc tice and for that, they will inevitably ti look to their peers and how their peers function. Consequently, we have to hope that this observational, role modeling method of ethical learning works. Much will depend on two things: Are the professionals in our organizations who are looked to for ethical behavior actually practicing ethically? Second, if they are not, what can be done? Unfortunately, there is a good deal of literature that suggests that many professionals alter their ethical behaviors (and so become less ethical) in response to work performance pressures. The competitive forces of the marketplace, work production pressures, and the expectations of the organization can make some people turn a blind eye to ethics or, more likely, rationalize their problematic behaviors. Thus, health professionals might become careless with documentation, or they might not advocate for their patients adequately—such as a case manager failing to tell a client that she represents the client’s insurer or failing to advocate for covered benefits for a client to which he is entitled and needs. However, In so many of these instances the case manager will likely believe that she is not acting inappropriately because she has witnessed others doing the same thing or she understands her behavior as something that “everyone does.” Especially in larger organizations, there can be an extraordinary degree of pressure on employees to cut corners and ignore ethical guidelines and standards in the interest of preserving a marketplace edge or enhancing profits. Furthermore, as long as “nothing bad happens,” those problematic behaviors may well continue. Of course, when unethical behavior becomes public or the subject of an investigation by a licensing or certification board, such as the Commission for Case Manager Certification, people scramble to defend themselves, deny wrongdoing, and often secure legal counsel. What is sometimes missed, however, is how the problematic behavior has negatively affected clients. Ethical behavior exists to foster and preserve our client’s welfare. Unethical behavior, by definition, fails to do so because it is self-serving. If we want to preserve the ethical ethos of case management, case managers must know the ethical standards to which they are held and comply with them. If they find themselves working in organizations that place organizational objectives over ethics, they should resign and work somewhere else. If they are puzzled about a particular case, they should contact their peers and especially consider making an inquiry to their local case management chapter or the Commission for Case Manager Certification. Case managers should also trust their ethical intuition. If they feel uncomfortable being asked to do something they think unethical, in all probability, it is unethical. In such situations, let’s hope that they can go to an organizational leader who is keen on preserving ethical behavior; who will give the case manager a knowledgeable and thoughtful hearing; and who will insure that the organization’s employees practice behaviors that mirror authentic professionalism. ■ A lthough professional develop ugh development obviously involves the mastery of ously inv l a relevant skill set, it also includes knowledge and behaviors that reflect the law and ethical standards. Could an individual legitimately call him or herself a professional but still act unethically? That would be hard to imagine. Furthermore and contrary to what lots of people think, complying with the law is an example of “ethical minimalism,” where the legal bar might be set low but at least at a point that insures that the behavior meets a minimal ethical threshold. Consequently, professionals who break the law will have a good deal of explaining to do if they claim their behavior was nevertheless ethical or professional. In this column, I want to examine how professionals develop their ethical behavior. How do they learn it? Obviously, they have to be exposed to ethical knowledge and practice because most ethical behavior isn’t intuitive. We rather learn it in our professional training programs, such as when nurses or therapists enroll in ethics courses during their degree programs. We learn and ponder ethical behavior when we read ethical codes and guidelines, which virtually all the prominent health care professions including case management have established. We learn ethics through reading the professional literature and attending ethics lectures. But for much and maybe most of the time, health professionals in the trenches learn ethics from watching their peers and leaders and doing what they do. That fact is important. I can give a lecture on privacy or confidentiality, but my students are going to have to learn how to implement the principles we discuss in their everyday work experience. They About the Author John Banja, PhD is a professor of rehabilitation medicine and a medical ethicist at Emory University in Atlanta. He sat on the Commission for Case Manager Certification for six years and speaks frequently at case management conferences. He can be reached at jbanja@emory.edu CMSA TODAY 27 ISSUE 4 • 2012 • DIGITAL http://www.naylornetwork.com/cms-nxt/

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CMSA Today - Issue 4, 2012

CMSA CORPORATE PARTNERS
EMBRACING THE GOLDEN AGE OF CASE MANAGEMENT
INCOMING PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
CAREER AND KNOWLEDGE PATHWAYS: THE JOURNEY BEGINS
SERVANT LEADERSHIP: INSPIRATIONAL VALUES
WORKFORCE STRATEGY SIMPLIFIED
DIGITAL, MOBILE, GLOBAL: EFFICIENCIES AND HINDRANCES IN THE MODERN CASE MANAGER'S ENVIRONMENT
ASSOCIATION NEWS
VIEW FROM CAPITOL HILL
CASE MANAGEMENT AND THE LAW
ETHICS CASEBOOK
MENTORING MATTERS
INDEX OF ADVERTISERS

CMSA Today - Issue 4, 2012

http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ0412
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ1412
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ0312
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ1312
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ0212
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ1212
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ0112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ1112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ0411
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ1411
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ0311
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ1311
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ0211
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ1211
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ0111
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/CMSQ1111
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com