The textbook case posed by the student was:
You are a member of the senior hospital administration. You become aware of a problem involving a long-time and well-respected employee, as well as the employee’s suervisor. The employee in question is a social worker; a very competent and very conscientious professional. His wife has recently suffered a stroke with significant residual neurological deficit. This has resulted in the necessity that the social worker take days off to care for her; come in late or leave early to take her to medical, physical, or occupational therapy appointments; etc.
It is thought that, because of these demands on his time, and the taxing emotional overlay of dealing with the critical illness of a loved one, while simultaneously dealing with patients and families in similar situations, that his charting fell behind. In fact, it was discovered that he was writing Social Work Notes 1-2 days after the fact, back-dating the notes, and placing them in the patients chart between notes of the same time frame as the date on the note. When the social worker’s immediate supervisor became aware of this, she told him that such behavior must stop immediately. Given the circumstances, however, she opted to take no further action, did not document this in his personnel file, nor did she advise her superiors.
Other members of the staff became aware of this, and someone reported it to the CEO via a “Tell Us About Problems” dropbox.
You have been assigned to address these multiple issues of ethics, standards of conduct, truth, and fairness.
The ethics involved in this scenario is a complete lack of addressing the core issues faced by the employee. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees are eligible to take time off work for the care of a seriously ill spouse (see reference). This includes intermittent leave; such as coming in late and/or leaving early. With the employee reducing his schedule in order to care for his wife, the supervisor should have recognized it is highly unlikely he could continue to maintain the same volume of work with a reduced schedule. However, it was also unethical for the …