- To understand why accountability is important in health care organizations one must first define the term accountability. The term accountability can have different meanings to different people, some people use the word accountability to mean responsibility, and others define it as liability or answerability, or responsibility. The word accountability in healthcare is defined by the Webster online dictionary as “The existence of a record that permits the identification of an individual who performed some specific activity so that responsibility for that activity can be established” (Parker).
In health care it is important that everyone be accountable for what they do regardless of their position in the organization. This means the janitor, the nurse, the manager, the doctor are all held accountable for the things that each one of them is responsible. For example if the floors are dirty and wet, then the person whose job it is to keep the floors clean should be the one to clean the floor. If vital signs of the patients are not taken or medications are nor given to the patients, then the nurse should be responsible and face the consequence .
The importance of being accountable is that the person or persons who neglected their duties are held accountable for their lack of responsibility. When people come to work on time shows that they are responsible and that they will not find excuses but they are ready to do the work.
In health care organizations there are different kinds of responsibilities based on the title or the positions of the staff member. The unit supervisor is responsible for the staff under his supervision and is accountable for the operation of the unit as a whole. The supervisor Keeps track of the equipment used in the unit to help cut down on waste. If the manager does not keep tract of the equipment and does not make sure they are used appropriately, the cost of replacing the equipment will keep increasing and this will cut in to the organization’s bottom line.
An effective leader should have a system of accountability in place so that everyone in the organization accepts responsibility for the accomplishment of their assigned duties. “The administrator must… determine the proper balance between educational objectives of quality assessments and the need to deter and detect careless or incompetent practice…” (Etzioni, 1975, p. 280). In health care it is paramount that leaders held each and everyone in the organization accountability for his or her actions, it is equally important that staffs are willing to accept responsibility or blame for their action.
To create a system of accountability is the backbone of any organization and this system must be followed by everyone in the organization in order the system to function as it was intended. The culture has to be just and the leaders must be willing to maintain and encourage a culture in which all employees are respected and not punished for their mistakes but rather encouraged to learn from the mistakes. “To make an impact on patient safety, however, it is imperative for the health care industry to seek methods to detect and learn from mistakes” (Mayer & Cronin, 2008, p. p427).
Many times in health care organization leaders are quick to discipline, and dismiss employee who makes a mistake. This is because many leaders believe that there is no room for errors and that the only way to make sure mistakes are not repeated is to eliminate the one who makes the mistake. The irony in this is that often times when the leader makes mistakes, they are not eliminated but instead in some cases they are actually rewarded handsomely.
The responsibility of creating a just culture where everyone is accountable for their assigned duties and no one is blamed for the mistakes of others lies on the shoulders of the leader. The greatest responsibility, and therefore, accountability for a just culture resides with organizational leaders (Mayer & Cronin, 2008, p. p427)”. An effective leader takes the responsibility of creating a faire system where everyone is held accountable for their action and that rewards and banishments are fair and just.
By Saeed Abdi Elmi
- Etzioni, A. (1975, June 1). Alternative conception of accountability: The example of health administration. Public Administration Reveiw, 35(3), P279-286. Retrieved September 6, 2010, fromhttp://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/.
- Mayer, C. M., & Cronin, D. (2008, December 1). Organizational acountability in a just culture. Urology Nursing, 28(6), P427-430. Retrieved September 6, 2010, from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/.
- Parker, P. M. Webster’s online dictionary. Retrieved September 4, 2010, from http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definitions/Accountability.