To Comply or Not to Comply

Filled under: Healthcare Compliance on September 2012

The value and purpose of compliance has been longly debated and analyzed. The question is: to comply or not to comply?

While compliance is a choice, failing to comply can lead to serious consequences that individuals who fail to comply with rules, standards, procedures and policies of an organization have to face.

Compliance is a choice. Some individuals understand how beneficial compliance is for themselves and others and choose to comply without being pushed by the “system”. Others do not want to comply and, therefore, will eventually reap the consequences of their actions. Many people hate rules, as they feel that those rules prevent them from doing whatever they want to or force them to do what they resent. While no one really likes rules, the truth is that a set of rules can actually protect us, which is why they have been established in the first place.

There are also cases when individuals fail to comply unintentionally. More often than not, poor communications regarding written standards, badly written standards and misleading review practices are the reasons behind this fact. Everyone makes mistakes, though. Well, compliance programs are aimed precisely at limiting the number of mistakes by improving communications and enhancing documentation of processes.

Failing to comply costs. Regardless of whether individuals carrying out a service fail to comply on an intentional or unintentional basis, this will not only affect them, but also the recipients of the service and the organization overseeing the service area. The consequences resulting from an individual’s decision to comply or not to comply may not always be severe. However, there have been cases when people have lost their jobs or, even worse, lost their lives.

When facing such a situation, receiving fines or going to jail does not seem so bad, but these are still common consequences of failing to comply or making an error in the process. Organizations also have to reap the consequences when employees fail to comply. Nowadays, more and more organizations and individuals have faced such a situation at one point or another.

There are ways to make things right. Supporting compliant processes can be done by means of an organization’s written standards of conduct, guidelines, policies and procedures. These are only some of the tools that organizations can use in order to make things right. In addition, checklists that can guide organizations throughout every step of a compliance process are also helpful. These checklists are available in various forms and typically accompany a procedure. They are very useful in the sense that they help users verify each step of the process. Therefore, the risk or error within that process is significantly reduced.

Everyone is responsible for compliance. We all have busy schedules and deadlines we have to meet, but this does not mean that we shouldn’t do our jobs right. Many of us are tempted to resort to shortcuts in order to complete our work faster, but the way in which we complete it is actually much more important. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes and picture how would you want the service to be provided to you. Think about it this way. When a pilot is in a hurry, would you like him to skip checking everything on his list just so the flight won’t get delayed? Taking a shortcut may get him back on schedule, but it would also jeopardize the passengers’ safety.

This is why the aviation industry and the Armed Forces insist on the importance of using checklists to conduct their activities on a consistent basis. This applies to every other domain or industry. Everyone is responsible for compliance. This means that everyone should understand that processes should be completed correctly because it is the right thing to do, not because it makes someone look good or bad. It is the right thing to do for ourselves, the recipients of the service, and our organizations alike.

Inspired by: Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics

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