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A Year-Long Approach to Compliance and Ethics

January 29, 2019
As 2019 starts off, it is a perfect time to prepare a comprehensive approach and plan to how the next 12 months will be focused on compliance and ethics at all levels of the organization. As my 2018 blogs set the stage with the heart, safety and work of compliance in behavioral health, in 2019, I will dive deep into each component of a model behavioral health compliance program. At Addiction Campuses, our approach to compliance and ethics is to be preventative rather than reactive, so it all starts with our annual plan. Our goal is to be constantly working to prevent, find and fix compliance and ethics issues. With the work we do, the patients we serve, the staff in our programs and the environmental issues in the addiction treatment world, there is never a shortage of issues to address. So, it makes sense to start with the basics. What set of ethics does your behavioral healthcare organization follow? What elements of the OIG compliance programs do you currently have and which ones are you planning to add or improve this year? As a mission-based organization with a clear vision and values, it is critical to be clear of the ethics that drive our daily work. The ethical guidelines of professional associations such as NAADAC, ACA and NASW guide the clinical care by our licensed professionals. Sharing these ethical guides with all staff is a great place to start. Our ethics is driven by our mission, vision and values, and comes to life in our code of conduct signed by all staff and our policies and procedures, which guide all our actions. Each of our Addiction Campuses programs takes every opportunity to train all staff at all levels on these ethical guidelines and to use daily situations to explore and guide ethical dilemmas that arise. It is often in these difficult and brave conversations that we learn, grow and improve all that we do. We are so lucky when we see staff expand their knowledge base and add to their tools in serving our patients. One concept that stands out to me in my ethics research is that as an industry we must protect our staff from burnout, we must provide support in our teams, and we must build organizations that are resilient to the stressors of this work if we are to be ethical. The HCCA (Health Care Compliance Association) keeps it simple with the code of ethics we follow as CHCs (Certified in Healthcare Compliance) professionals: obligations to the public, obligations to the employing organization and obligations to the profession. When we align and work on all these at the same time, it makes the work of ethics and compliance truly integrated and effective! Maeve O’Neill, MEd, LCDC, LPC-S, CHC, CDWF/CDTLF, is vice president of compliance at Addiction Campuses.
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