hospital building exteriorIf you are a hospital CEO or other senior executive and your boss (or board) is more interested in profitability and days of cash on hand than quality of care and patient safety, then you are working for the wrong man, woman, or the wrong organization.

As I have said many times over the years, the management of a hospital may be a business, but it MUST BE a business with a conscience. 

Yet once again, we are witness to a story of a major hospital management whose senior leadership seemed unaware that cardiologists who practiced at two of their hospitals were routinely performing unnecessary procedures that generated huge profits.  Once those corporate executives were tipped off by a conscientious nurse, who was later fired, the executives most directly involved in overseeing the hospitals seemed more adept at hiding damning information from regulatory authorities by cleverly employing the veil of confidentiality than in reinforcing corporate values.

Moreover, some of the incidents of this unnecessary and dangerous care occurred during the time that the hospital company was operating under a corporate compliance agreement with CMS because of significant prior fraudulent activities.  That agreement expired in 2008.  The numerous incidents reported by a nurse who observed the questionable procedures, occurred during this time.

No one is alleging that the corporate CEO or his top lieutenants should be tarred and feathered.  However, it would be nice if the people who were directly involved, and who apparently admitted using the confidentiality of peer review to cover up the misdeeds, were forced to go on the record to explain what they knew, and when they knew it. 

When all is said and done, maybe we can use this as yet another case study for business ethics in healthcare.  God knows, the list of these case studies is growing.

Then those who decry government regulation and costly regulations that thwart job-creating free enterprise can get back to business of doing a better job policing themselves.

Seriously, we must return to traditional values in healthcare where the black-letter ethical standard is “First Do No Harm.”

I thought about making a snarky comment regarding Wall Street analysts who defend these companies regardless of their behavior, but I won’t. 

© 2012 John Gregory Self