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Let Me Hear From You

Let Me Hear From You

Ethics Education

By M. Patrick Feeney, PhD

In the August AT Extra, I reminded you that the Academy’s Ethical Practices Committee (EPC) issued a call for comment on the draft document titled Proposed Ethical Practice Policy on Financial Incentives from Industry (PFII). A listserv was open in July and August to enable you to comment on the document and as of August 31, 2008, the listserv is closed. Many members took the opportunity to comment on the document and we received additional comments directly to EPC or board members. First, let me say thank you for participating in this process. It is important to hear your opinions on issues like this that affect all of us in the profession. Your input is highly valued and will be reviewed by the EPC and the board. The EPC’s primary role is to educate and increase member awareness of the Academy’s Code of Ethics and the practical application of the code. As part of the effort to review our current guidelines on conflict of interest, the EPC reviewed the available research from the social science literature on the influence of gifts as it pertains to health-care providers. A review of this literature, “What Social Science Research Teaches About Financial Incentives from Industry,” has been posted on the Academy Web site and will remain available.

In the coming months, the next steps in the process of considering the PFII will include: the review of listserv and other member comments, the development of responses to questions asked by members on the listserv, and review of the document itself. One question asked by a number of members on the listserv was why the EPC was reviewing policies on financial incentives from industry if, as the Academy’s ethics consultant Dr. Mark Pastin commented in his April report, “This is an outstanding, professional, and aggressive ethics program — at least equal to the best we have seen in a national association.” The key to that statement is that we have a professional and aggressive ethics program. That is, the Academy has a plan for keeping the code of ethics and ethics policies current and viable. It is a changing landscape in professional ethics. The Academy isn’t the only entity reviewing its ethics policies. Many private and public medical centers have adopted or are in the process of adopting strict “no gifts” policies with medical suppliers. A recent update in the PhRMA Code (associations with members in the pharmaceutical industry) has resulted in stricter gift policies. It is anticipated that AdvaMed, whose members are medical equipment suppliers and to which some suppliers of products to the hearing health-care industry are members, will do the same. I was also recently informed that the Hearing Industries Association (HIA), which represents hearing instrument manufacturers, has revised its gift policy.

Since the EPC’s primary role is to educate and increase member awareness of the Academy’s Code of Ethics and the practical application of the code, it is important that this is done in a fashion that is accessible. This month, I would like to hear from you by having you take a brief three-item survey on ethics education. In October, the board will be discussing the process of educating members on ethics and we will use the results of this survey as a starting point for our discussion. Let me hear from you!

Take this quick Ethics Education Survey