Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation

Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation


 Clearly, the challenge in leadership is found in establishing a good ethical climate which guarantees a positive working environment to enhance maximum utilization of the available human and natural resources while still maximizing on profits. It can therefore be asserted that the whole issue of identifying, establishing, and maintaining ethical compliance and quality services that can sustain the growth of any organization in the diverse global business market are complex. This paper seeks to identify the organizational leadership problems that resulted in Columbia/HCA’s misconduct as well as identify the strengths and weaknesses of Columbia/HCA’s current ethics program. It also examines whether the current ethics program satisfies the provisions of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Lastly, the paper gives suggestions that Columbia/HCA could have implemented to sensitize its employees on ethical issues.

Organizational ethical leadership problem

One of the ethical leadership qualities is based on effective communication. Leaders are undoubtedly expected to set excellent standards of truth to the employees they lead. Truthfulness should not only be practiced by leaders but should also be incorporated in the organizations missions and vision. It is therefore important for leaders to ensure that any form of presentation is accurate. Even incase where financial statements and plans of action do not reflect the interest of the organization, accuracy, openness and truthfulness in communication must prevail if several lessons have to be learned from the mistakes and hence ensure the sustainability of the organization. The Columbia/HCA health care cooperation leaders where not open and transparent on their financial issues (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2009). This is evidenced by the government investigations, which amounted to the indictment of three executives who were involved in establishing false cost reports, which claimed the government over $4.4 million (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2009). Further to this, it was revealed that the leaders had hidden some internal documents from the government, which could have disclosed their fraud.

Another ethical leadership requirement which must be adhered to for the sustainability of any organization is quality. Quality customer services ensure competitiveness in the global market. It is therefore the responsibility of the leaders to maintain quality services through out the organization by establishing measurements and standards in every department in the organization. Columbia/HCA hospital cooperation leaders failed the test of quality by discharging patients from emergency rooms as well as transferring them to other hospitals when they were still in unstable conditions (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2009).

For any organization to achieve a sustainable change in the global market, it has to embark on ethical collaboration. Leaders should therefore seek advice and collaborate ethically with all the involved authorities in order to make sound decisions for the organization. .  Columbia/HCA hospital cooperation leaders did not collaborate effectively with the government. As a result, they ended up falsifying public policies to the damage of public health by overstating their health care service expenses and exaggerating other expenses to fit the amount they sought to be compensated (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2009).

Establishing an ethical tenure is equally important in any organization. Leadership is measured in terms of trustworthiness and reliability of the individuals than their profession and talents. In this context therefore, leadership should be reflected in the whole organization not on individuals.  Most of the Columbia/HCA hospital cooperation leaders remained in their respective positions despite the allegation of fraud (Wynne, 2003). As a result, the public perception on the cooperation remained bad.

Strengths and weaknesses of Columbia/HCA current ethics

            The newly established ethic program in the Columbia/HCA had much strength. For instance, it reflected the importance of cooperation between the leaders and the government authorities (Wynne, 2003). This is evidenced by the promise made by the newly appointed chairman to collaborate fully with the government in establishing new ethic climate for the cooperation. In addition to this, the new mission statement underscored the importance of honesty and hence openness and truthfulness in business practices (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2009). By establishing a new executive position to foreseen quality issues, the new chairman overstressed the importance of quality as an ethical leadership quality. The main weakness of the newly introduced ethic programs was that, although the cooperation insisted on making changes of personal values to work, the program was aimed at making employers understand the cooperation’s definition of ethical behaviors but not to change their personal values (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2009).

Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act

            The Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act dictates that all organizations should have a reliable and effective compliance and ethics program by ensuring that that they give accurate financial reports that reflects the status of the organization as well comply to ethical conducts (Holt, 2008). The new ethic programs established meets the above requirements in that a committee was established to foresee the compliance to accurate financial reporting and training of the employees on the set ethic standards.

Suggestions that could have been implemented to sensitize employees on ethics

            In order to ensure that the whole process of establishing new ethic program was successful and effective in changing the perception of the people, the old leadership team and any other person who was alleged to be fraud should have resigned and give chance to new leaders. Still, it should have put tough and well defined measures which should be taken if any employee fails to adhere to the set code of ethics (Ferrell, Fraedrich, & Ferrell, 2009). Further to this, the leaders should have insisted on the change of personal value towards work rather than tying to make the employees understand their mere definition of behavioral ethics.


In conclusion therefore, good ethical leadership standards are inevitable in any organization which is determined to achieve sustainable competitiveness in the globe market. Ethical leadership, compounded by ethical employee followers plays a key role in the success of an organization.


Ferrell, L., Fraedrich, J., & Ferrell, O. (2009). Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Holt, M. (2008). The Sarbanes-Oxley Act: Costs, Benefits and Business Impact.  Burlington, MA: CIMA Publishing

Wynne, M., (2003). Columbia/HCA Overview: The Fraud Investigation. Retrieved August 21, 2010, from


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