Complying, the Right Thing to Do to Avoid Serious Consequences

How do you make sure that your workforce understands the value and purpose of compliance and are actively complying with your organizations standards, policies, and procedures? In the third issue of Y-Comply, a service of the Health Care Compliance Association, DeAnn Baker, CHC, CCEP, CHRC, Managing Director, Compliance Advisor Specialists, LLC, sets out reasons to comply, why people may not comply, some resources to help the workforce comply, and the serious consequences that may occur with noncompliance. 

No one likes a lot of rules, but the rules have been established to protect us all, Baker says, adding that compliance is a choice. If an individual chooses not to comply with an organization’s rules and written standards, policies, and procedures, the consequences can be serious. Sometimes, the failure to comply is unintentional. Unintentional noncompliance happens because of poor communications regarding written standards, inaccessible written standards, or other failures related to review practices. Limiting the number of unintentional instances of noncompliance requires good communication and good documentation of processes.

An organization’s written standards of conduct, policies, procedures, and guidelines are some of the tools that support compliant processes. Checklists are additional tools that can help guide the workforce in a step-by-step fashion to comply with procedures. Checklists come in various forms, but they typically accompany a procedure. Used properly, checklists are considered “controls” because they help users verify each step, thereby limiting the risk of error with a process.

Noncompliance has its costs, Baker notes. Regardless of the reason, intentional or not, serious consequences can affect the individual who carries out the service, the recipients of the service, and the organization responsible for oversight of the service area. Although the consequences are not always drastic when an individual chooses not to comply or an individual makes an error in the process, in some situations, people have lost their lives, lost their jobs, received fines, or  gone to jail.

We are all responsible for compliance, Baker emphasized. The work we complete and how we complete it matters. Busy schedules and deadlines can make shortcuts seem appealing. It’s important to evaluate and consider how we would want others to provide a service to us. The aviation industry and the Armed Forces drill on the importance of consistently using checklists to conduct their activities. Would you want your pilot to skip using a required checklist and take a shortcut or two because he or she is in a hurry? Processes need to be completed correctly because it’s the right thing to do—not only for ourselves, but for the individuals we are providing a service to and for our organizations.

What do you do to ensure that the workforce is doing the right thing?