Ethical and Regulatory Issues in the Health Care Industry

Posted by on Jan 6, 2012 in REGULATORY ISSUES

Ethical and Regulatory Issues in the Health Care Industry

One of the foremost issues regarding regulation in the health care industry is the compliance with Medicare standards. The Medicare standards, in turn, are themselves made up of a wide range of individual issues that include, but by no means are limited to: the clarification of the necessity for advanced beneficiary notices, streamlining the process for writing orders for diabetic glucose monitoring supplies, as well as many others. At present, the methods of addressing these concerns cut a broad swath, ranging from mere word processing work in which clarification is made through rewriting the language of policy to full scale changes in those policies or regulations. In some cases, however, it has actually been necessary to introduce regulations through legislation.

As with just about every other industry in the post-9/11 world that is American society today, the health care industry has been struggling to devise ways to address the opposing forces of security and the right to privacy in ways that are acceptable to those fighting on either side. The ability to please both those who desire security and those who value privacy can only be compromised when staring down at the pile of regulations that health care providers must acquiesce to regarding the transmission of electronic patient information, with significant punishments in place for not following them. Responding to these issues has resulted in a series of safeguard measures. Some of these measures include such things as educational programs to increase the basic awareness of security issues, including but not limited to classes in password management. Another security safeguard measure that is recommended beyond these basics is the establishment of a strictly defined and overseen hierarchical structure of security flow management. Furthermore, this management process must include highly organized and tightly focused evaluations as well as a contingency plan in the case of regulatory oversights. One of the most basic yet effective methods that many health care providers institute boils down to nothing more complicated than limiting workstation access or even workstation security devices to prevent unauthorized or untrained users from allowing improper transmissions simply by accident.

The disposal of the voluminous amounts of hazardous waste may be the single most dangerous aspect of the entire health care industry, at least as it relates to security measures. Proper and safe disposal of toxic and hazardous waste becomes a primary issue for developing regulatory compliance because it affects not only health care employees, but the general populace. The focus of this kind of training often is almost remedial simply due to employees having little or no experience in dealing with these kinds of materials and not being fully cognizant of the extent of the potential risk. In addition it has been deemed extremely important to initiate organizational hierarchies with an eye toward assigning responsibility for dealing with the proper disposal of waste. In partnership with assigning responsibility it also becomes very important that a tracking system is instituted in order to establish a chain of command to follow the waste stream. And finally it is recommended that systematic evaluation and analysis of the process for disposing of hazardous waste be conducted in order to improve upon any flaws or gaps in the system. These evaluations must be conducted regularly and with the utmost seriousness, unlike the manner in which most businesses conduct fire and even emergency drills.