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For your Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Health & Well-being - February 2004

Ethics and Community Nursing Services

Community Nursing Services (CNS) believes that ethical behavior exceeding expectations results in superior patient care and a better agency reputation. As competition for patients increases in the home health market place, ethical behavior too often decreases. Attention, organization and diligence are necessary to assure that expected values are maintained, regulatory boundaries are not compromised, and patients are fully benefited.

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CNS is proud to have a formal ethics committee to help answer a myriad of questions about patients, protocols, practice and programs.This committee reports to a fourteen-member board of trustees, which includes physicians, nurses, insurers, attorneys, administrators and leaders from other non-profit organizations. Board members are responsible for maintaining the values, philosophy and mission of CNS focusing on the needs of patients rather than making profits for stockholders and partners.

Putting profits before patients may be demonstrated in a variety of ways. Buying patient referrals has the potential for helping an agency’s bottom line, but at CNS, this would be considered an unethical practice. One may ethically accept an occasional plate of freshly baked cookies from CNS as a form of appreciation for allowing us to be of service. However, agencies that provide tickets to ball games, rounds of golf, help with staffing or who promise other similar gifts may find themselves at risk both ethically and legally by compromising the integrity of patient choice.

Practitioners in the field have recently reported other examples of unethical and illegal behaviors. When a nursing home is paid more through a home health/hospice than Medicare or Medicaid would otherwise pay them, they become a target of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) fraud investigations. Another example of potential fraud has been the renewed effort by certain independent therapists and nurses to garner referrals from facilities and clinics then broker the patients to home health agencies for a fee. Equally questionable is the activity of soliciting patients door to door, as well as soliciting patients already being cared for by another agency to leave that agency.

CNS does not and will not participate in unethical or illegal behaviors. CNS is committed to, organized for and strives to be both a legal and ethical provider of home health care and related services. If there is any evidence to the contrary, i.e. if we do not walk the talk, please call me.

Grant C. Howarth, President and CEO.


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