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Ethics - Moral law vs. Criminal law

#31
Mike S. said:
I cannot believe it is always a "no win" situation to be a "whistleblower". Sometimes it must be done in the interest of saving lives, for example, and I refuse to believe it is always a bad ending to varying degrees.

News always focuses more on the bad -- crashes, illness, death, losers, unfairness, destruction, corruption, etc. I'm betting there are cases of whistleblowers "winning" -- or coming out much better than portrayed in the examples given here but they get much less press.

Nevertheless, Wes' advice about lawyers is, sadly, probably worth heeding.
I guess it all boils down to what a "win" is and whether the time table is important as long as the "good change" eventually replaces the status quo.

It is important to realize that rarely does any whistleblower (or any reformer, for that matter) come off looking good in the short term. The whistleblower MUST be altruistic and blow his whistle for the betterment of the many without regard to his personal benefit (except "internal peace of mind.") That means hope of reward must be secondary to getting the message out. That also means you have to forget about "revenge" as a motive for whistleblowing.

My advice always is "protect yourself and your family as much as you possibly can." You can't really be a hero if NOBODY gets saved by blowing a whistle that never gets heard. Bad guys will do anything and everything they can to keep that whistle from being heard, even to the point of loudly villifying the whistleblower to drown out the whistle.

The two guys in the news item about Northrop weren't the ONLY guys in all of Northrop who knew about the skullduggery. They may not have even been the ONLY ones to try to blow the whistle. They were simply the only ones who stayed the course. History rarely rewards the losers with fair reporting. It's pretty certain you can't carry on the good fight if you have to work two jobs to make up for losing a high paying one - something that happens to a lot of would-be whistleblowers who blow the whistle without adequate counsel (and even happens to some who do have adequate counsel.)
 

Jim Wynne

Super Moderator
#32
Wes Bucey said:
The whistleblower MUST be altruistic and blow his whistle for the betterment of the many without regard to his personal benefit (except "internal peace of mind.") That means hope of reward must be secondary to getting the message out. That also means you have to forget about "revenge" as a motive for whistleblowing.
Why must there be altruism if unethical (or somehow widely harmful) acts or behaviors are exposed? If, for example, a law enforcement agency offers a reward for the capture and conviction of a dangerous criminal, and a person who doesn't give a rat's arse about the safety of the public at large turns him in just to get the reward, has not justice been served? Similarly, if Mr. Smith's boss is engaged in illegal activities that are harmful to the public and other employees, but Mr. Smith doesn't care and just wants to hang his boss for some personal affront, doesn't his whistleblowing serve the same ultimate purpose?

Wes Bucey said:
My advice always is "protect yourself and your family as much as you possibly can."
Now you seem to be contradicting your previous statement regarding mandatory altruism. If one's motivations are altruistic, selflessness is assumed, no?

Wes Bucey said:
The two guys in the news item about Northrop weren't the ONLY guys in all of Northrop who knew about the skullduggery. They may not have even been the ONLY ones to try to blow the whistle. They were simply the only ones who stayed the course. History rarely rewards the losers with fair reporting. It's pretty certain you can't carry on the good fight if you have to work two jobs to make up for losing a high paying one - something that happens to a lot of would-be whistleblowers who blow the whistle without adequate counsel (and even happens to some who do have adequate counsel.)
Then the conclusion is that prior to tooting we should carefully consider all of the potential consequences , and I heartily agree.
 
#33
Wes Bucey said:
The whistleblower MUST be altruistic and blow his whistle for the betterment of the many without regard to his personal benefit (except "internal peace of mind.") That means hope of reward must be secondary to getting the message out. That also means you have to forget about "revenge" as a motive for whistleblowing.
Wes Bucey said:
My advice always is "protect yourself and your family as much as you possibly can."
JSW05 said:
Now you seem to be contradicting your previous statement regarding mandatory altruism. If one's motivations are altruistic, selflessness is assumed, no?
"MUST" means the reward is never a sure thing - Northrop took 15 years from date the whistleblowers filed lawsuit. Countless others never get anything but the "shaft." If you file strictly for the reward, you may find it a Pyrrhic victory if you lose your job and get blacklisted in your industry for 15 years before you have a hope of recovering your losses.

In terms of revenge - trying for revenge in the heat of passion almost always ends up unsatisfactorily - hence the popular adage "Revenge is a pie best tasted cold." Get yourself and your family covered and then go for revenge if you feel you must. Usually, by that time, it doesn't seem worth the effort.
 
#34
The Rest of the Story

Last year I wrote about Dr. Pollak, a transplant surgeon who had the potential to become one of the true "stars" like
1967: World's first heart transplant, Dr. Christiaan Barnard, South Africa.
1968: First successful heart transplant in United States, Dr. Denton Cooley

Today, as I was readying papers for the recycler, I came across a squib of an article buried in the back pages of the Trib. I searched the internet and came up with electronic copies. Here is the original post and "The Rest of the Story."

It's pretty sad that Pollak has essentially been blacklisted from transplant surgery as a result of all this. The lawyers will sweep off at least a third of the settlement plus expenses, not leaving much for his "white knight" role. Note the last line in blue ink:
Pollak currently does not practice surgery but does give lectures once a week at the university's Peoria medical center, Wasserman said.

What a sad end to a sad tale. I wonder what he'll do with the money. Note further, the defendant still hasn't admitted to any wrongdoing!
Wes Bucey said:
Today, I read an update article about a guy I've followed in the news for several years: Dr. Raymond Pollak, who was a reknowned transplant surgeon for the University of Illinois in Chicago (Chief of Transplant Surgery.)

Back in the 90's, he blew the whistle on the practice of hospitals (and their surgeons) falsely report a potential transplant recipients state of health so they could move the patient up the list and so the hospitals receive more organs, perform more transplants and receive more money from medicare and medicaid.

He blew the whistle. The feds joined him and he received $500,000 of a $2.5 million dollar settlement.

The fallout is this - the University retaliated and stuck him in a low status job at a Peoria campus at 1/3 his former salary PLUS he no longer has an opportunity to do transplants on live patients, but is relegated to being the guy who harvests organs from dead folk and transports the organs to waiting transplant teams in his own car. Hospitals with donor corpses don't want to take up valuable daytime operating room time, so he is forced to do the harvesting between midnight and morning when the operating rooms are seldom used.

He is virtually blacklisted throughout the world.

So here is his fallout - goes from $300,000/year salary plus transplant operating fees to $100,000/year salary and miniscule fees for harvesting organs. Goes from prestige at largest medical school in the country to a lowly branch in Peoria where the University essentially stuck him in a 10 by 15 office to twiddle his thumbs all day, because they instituted a policy after he arrived to stop referring cases to University doctors (him.)

My summary of the situation is that Dr. Pollak went on a Crusade without first checking with an attorney. He relished the publicity it got him, but the University simply paid up, cut him off at the ankles, and got the last laugh. Who knows whether there was a conspiracy to prevent him from being hired anywhere else?

Gramps always said, "Revenge is a pie best tasted cold!" The University folks are certainly savoring that pie now.

My guess is his net loss so far (factoring in the $500,000 award) is about $1,000,000 from what he would have received if he had been an anonymous (to the wrongdoers) tattletale. (He would have received about $250,000 finders fee instead of $500,000 as co-plaintiff with the government, but he would have also received an extra $1,200,000 in salary.)

The moral of the tale:
If the Chief of transplant surgery of the biggest medical school in the country can end up with the short end of the stick, blacklisted and making only a third of what he should be making, then surely the rest of us need to make a reality check before we leap in a pot of boiling tar,
The Rest of the Story (buried on the inside pages)
U. of I. OKs settlement with whistle-blower
Chicago Tribune
Published August 18, 2005

CHICAGO -- The University of Illinois board of trustees approved a $2.5 million settlement Wednesday with a surgeon who blew the whistle on alleged wrongdoing in the medical center's organ-transplant program.
The agreement will end litigation in three lawsuits Dr. Raymond Pollak has pending against the board, including claims in federal and state court that he was demoted after publicly accusing the hospital of fraudulently pushing patients to the top of the waiting list for liver transplants. A third lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court alleges defamation.
Pollak's allegations led federal and state authorities to sue the hospital in 2003. The university settled those claims for $2.3 million.
In settling with Pollak and the government, the university has denied any wrongdoing.
The university's insurance will cover $1 million of the settlement with Pollak and a self-insurance policy will cover $1.5 million.
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
University of Illinois draws up settlement with whistle-blower
Belleville News-Democrat, IL -
Aug 16, 2005
Posted on Tue, Aug. 16, 2005

University of Illinois draws up settlement with whistle-blower
Associated Press

CHICAGO - The University of Illinois has hammered out a $2.5 million deal in a bid to settle pending lawsuits filed by a whistle-blower who accused the U of I at Chicago Medical Center of fraud in its transplant program.

The three lawsuits were brought by Dr. Raymond Pollak, the 54-year-old former chief of transplant surgery at the medical center who publicly accused the facility in 1999 of improperly diagnosing some patients to make them eligible for transplants.

One of the lawsuits still pending claims in state and federal court that the surgeon was demoted after he first brought his concerns to the school's attention in the late '90s. Another lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court alleges defamation.

The University of Illinois' board of trustees was scheduled to vote on the settlement deal Wednesday.

"To avoid further inconvenience and expense, we have tried to come to this agreement," said medical center spokeswoman Sherri McGinnis Gonzalez.

In settling with Pollak, he would end legal action against the school and would no longer work for the university. The school also continues to deny any wrongdoing.

After Pollak's accusations were made public in 1999, federal and state authorities sued and the medical center agreed to pay $2.5 million in 2003 to settle. Pollak received about $500,000 in that settlement, under which the school also denied any wrongdoing.

Pollak alleged that the hospital's actions were meant to boost the number of transplant patients and to thereby increase profits, his lawsuits claimed.

After broaching his concerns, Pollak claims he was removed as head of the transplant program in 1998 and his salary was cut from $280,000 to $120,000.

Pollak's attorney, Laurie Wasserman, said the two sides have been working on a settlement for about a year. She also said she expected Pollak to agree to it.

"I have no reason to think (Pollak) would turn this down," she said. "It's good news, but only when I see ink on an agreement."

Pollak currently does not practice surgery but does give lectures once a week at the university's Peoria medical center, Wasserman said.
 
S

Stephen Rubino

#35
Is ISO 9001:2000 an amoral system?

Are there requirements, specifically defined or implied that addresses issues of compliance that fall within the scope of the Quality Management System and/or scope of the company's business if (a General System's approach incorporating "boundary definition" principles is applied, and) an output of the company (administered to by the QMS's efficiency) is determined to be clearly of a deleterious nature?
 
#36
Stephen Rubino said:
Are there requirements, specifically defined or implied that addresses issues of compliance that fall within the scope of the Quality Management System and/or scope of the company's business if (a General System's approach incorporating "boundary definition" principles is applied, and) an output of the company (administered to by the QMS's efficiency) is determined to be clearly of a deleterious nature?
This was a tough sentence to parse.
I think it goes this way:
"Somebody" has an opinion that the organization's output (product or service) is "clearly" deleterious in itself.
Questions:
  • Whose opinion?
  • What objective documentation is there the product or service is deleterious?
  • To whom (people) or what (thing, environment, etc.) is it "deleterious?
  • To what extent does this deleterious nature offset any good effects of the product or service? (Even aspirin has some deleterious nature - all put on labels and literature.)
"Somebody" wants to know who (person or agency) has authority so "somebody" can cite an authority in seeking redress or retribution for the perceived deleterious nature of the product or service.
Questions:
Wouldn't it make sense to raise the issue at the highest authority (government agency or court system) rather than narrow the scope to some minor Standard applicable only to an organization's QMS, a Standard which has no "enforcement teeth" to compel reversal, redress, restitution, or retribution? Simply stated, if you are not sure which aspect or authority covers the situation, how do you know the product or service is deleterious?

Comment:
In general, all Standards suggest the organization has a number of "masters" which take precedence over the Standard and its Registrars:
  • government laws and regulations,
  • customer requirements,
  • life, health, and safety of customers, employees, and general public
  • good business practices which assure recovery of and profit on investments for the organization's investors.
It seems to me the advice throughout this thread continues to be valid regarding situations which appear to be illegal or unethical: "If you think something is amiss, find an attorney who will protect your personal interests and discuss the matter with him/her."
The attorney will help you determine what facts you may need to present to an authority and which authority to approach - whether it is an in-house authority at the organization or an outside agency.
 
S

Stephen Rubino

#37
Narrowing forcus to ISO 9001:2000

I am sorry for the convoluted nature of my query. I am really only interested in what clause or sanctioned interpretation of ISO 9001:2000 deals with Social Responsibility issues. I am aware that there is a Standard specific to Social Responsibility, but I am narrowing my focus to ISOI 9001:2000.
 
#38
Stephen Rubino said:
I am sorry for the convoluted nature of my query. I am really only interested in what clause or sanctioned interpretation of ISO 9001:2000 deals with Social Responsibility issues. I am aware that there is a Standard specific to Social Responsibility, but I am narrowing my focus to ISOI 9001:2000.
To my best knowledge, there is nothing even remotely connected to social responsibility in ISO9k2k. Section 0.4 Compatibility with other management systems seems to specifically exclude reference to social responsibility issues like environment and OSHA.
 
S

Stephen Rubino

#39
Overlaps with OSHA, etc. in ISO 9001:2000

I think there are overlaps in ISO, OSHA, etc. that are often addressed during internal and/or external audits. Issues like an MSDS book that is not up-to-date or not containing info related to chemicals found on-site; eye wash bottles found to be past expiration date, etc. could be written-up against Clause 6.4, Work Environment... Yes, these are issues noncompliant with OSHA, as well...
 
S

Stephen Rubino

#40
Intent of thread

To get back to where I think I was heading with my original thread... I am looking to see just how far outside the defined scope of business and generally applied scope of ISO I can go by applying "boundary definition" principles developed by General System's theorist Ludwig von Bertalanffy, and what applicable elements of the Standard (ISO 9001:2000) could be cited.

I'll elaborate with examples worthy of consideration... Wes underscored the possible deleterious effects of aspirin, qualifying the label that also underlines the potential ill-effects...

Supposing I am a Consultant performing internal audits at a client site...

The client is a pharmaceutical manufacturer that has recently released a new drug. In my examination of their documentation, procedures, etc. I realize that the company is aware the drug has caused heart attacks in laboratory experiments, but deliberately hides that info - thus the product released has no such warning on its label... What would be my grounds under ISO 9001:2000 to write a Corrective Action - or even, an Observation that this is or may constitute a nonconformance?

Or, what if the company is a U.S. manufacturer of some product consisting of several components. In reviewing their approved supplier list, I see they are buying screws from xyz company in Cuba. I quicky Google-it and find, indeed, there is still an embargo against purchasing goods from Cuba... While I realize there are statutes that take precedence over ISO involved here, it may not be in my client's (or my own) best interest to take a whistle-blower approach and call the Feds... What ISO Clause could I cite to pressure review of the practice and, hopefully, force compliance with requirements that are seemingly outside the scope of the QMS?
 
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