Medical Ethics

Several times each year, I give a seminar to roughly 50 doctors on medical ethics. What surprises me is that what medical ethics experts write about has little to do with the ethical issues doctors face on a day-to-day basis. Most medical ethics issues arise not because of new technologies or strange circumstances. They arise because we often surrender to the judgment of those closest to the situation to committees, such as the ubiquitous medical ethics committee. But there is no evidence at all that these committees make better decisions than the people directly affected. The question is often not what is the right thing to do but who should decide what is the right thing to do.

Book at O’Reilly

My book Make an Ethical Difference is on sale at half price today at One day only.

Compliance Headhunters

We are contacted by headhunters because we know a lot of compliance officers and we know whether they are available. However, it is extremely difficult to help these folks as they often have no idea what a compliance officer does. They are generally working from a job description written by someone in HR who also has little idea what a compliance officer does. The essence of the job of a compliance officer is the ability to influence others to do the right thing. This does not translate into a certain college degree or work history. When describing a compliance position to a headhunter, don’t forget to include BEHAVIORAL requirements and expectations. This will save the headhunter and job candidates a lot of time

Compliance Celebration

About 19 years ago we created an annual celebration of what is bright and new in compliance called the Best Compliance Practices Forum @ This year, the Forum is being held on October 20 and 21 in the Washington DC metro area and it will be the best Forum in ten years based on the incredible faculty and best practices to be recognized. It is amazing to see the innovations in compliance that are presented each year. Please join us.

Whistleblowers or Pirates?

Everyday brings new reports of whistleblowers receiving millions of dollars – even tens of millions of dollars – as a reward for being a whistleblower. This occurs primarily in healthcare, defense and financial services. It changes the equation from one in which the whistleblower risks their job to do the right thing to one in which the whistleblower risks their job in the hope of winning the lottery. The public image of the whistleblower has not caught up with this new reality in which the whistleblower is more of a pirate than a hero. The media have been particularly reluctant to give attention to this new, profit-seeking  whistleblower. It is time that our perceptions begin to fit the facts.

Getting Fired

Ever more frequently, I learn about compliance officers losing their jobs, mainly because they were doing them. A lot of organizations have a compliance officer because they know they are supposed to. But they would really be happier if the compliance officer cashed their paycheck and stayed out of the way. This is confirmed by the fact that the compliance officers being fired are not the dregs but often among the best in the business. Compliance officers are not always adept at organizational politics and tend not to be assertive on their own behalf. But this is a job where you have to get a contract for at least three years. You owe this to yourself and those who depend on you. I know that asking for a contract may seem extreme, but you don’t answer the phone where I work.