Business Decision as Moral Quandary

Business Decision as Moral Quandary

Mike Herschel

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Business Decision as Moral Quandary

            In order to provide the reader with a template for decision making, the author will discuss Lawrence Kohlberg’s Six Stages of Moral Development and address a hypothetical business decision making process: a catering company faced with a decision to cancel Health Care Benefits for all or lay off half of the firm’s employees. The questions to be answered are: what should be done and why should one do it.

            Mr. Kohlberg is a moral philosopher with a great deal of study in the moral development of children; his ethical theories are very well documented and sustained by independent review from world-class peer review. The conclusions made are from studies of children and adults as they progressed through consecutive and very definitive stages of moral development: how do we go to understanding Right, Wrong, and ideas of what Justice looks like. The six stages below are three headings: premoral or preconventional stage, conventional morality, and interpersonal conformity.

            The premoral or preconventional stage is marked by actions motivated by the expectation of pain or pleasure and is a behavior borne of an understanding of the immediate consequences of an action being good or bad or of punishment and obedience (Aggelia, unknown). A good employer, as an example, is one that does not bounce paychecks; as the threat of retaliation from legal sources is a heavy threat indeed. The second phase is an understanding of the instrumental exchange one learns when confronted with choices that are understood to relay a reciprocate action (Aggelia, unknown). If ones child ‘eats (their) vegetables’ then they get a reward, yes? If no, then perhaps, it’s off to bed with no dessert. As adults this learning experience can manifest itself as a right action consisting of an instrumental exchange to satisfy the ego and our hypothetical employer may or may not consider staff as value in ratio to their utility.

            The moral conditions that heighten (or degrade) our sense of ability to accept the conventional morality (or the rules and regulations) of one’s peer group is called into play when one can see people associated with doing something, wearing something, or saying something and it is just easier to ‘go along to get along:’ retribution is collective, individual vengeance not allowed, and forgiveness is preferable to revenge (Tigger, unknown). Interpersonal Conformity is also know by punishment metered out is a deterrent and the failure to punish is unfair (Aggelia, unknown).  Our business owner would not have to look very far for the visage of an armed Treasury agent unrelentingly pursuing unpaid taxes to make even the strong of heart quake in fear. For our small business owner, the threat of fines (or taxes) from the federal government would make clear the decision to address the cost of employees health benefits could not be put off. A healthy respect for law and order, at the next stage of development, is a learned responsibility to defend social and institutional authority (Tigger, unknown). We observe and take to heart the responsibility we have to others: ‘paying a debt to society’ or ‘a day’s pay for a day’s work.’ Figures in authority are rarely questioned (Aggelia, unknown). The owner of our business in question would feel the very real pain of letting down his/her employees but still understand the responsibility to their enterprise and one’s personal family and be willing to make tough choices in a hierarchy of reasoned priorities. (Ed. Note: in between stages five and six, is a noteworthy level very well documented and exemplified by the 1960’s hippie sub-culture, whereas deliberate disdain for law and order was seen as arbitrary and relative  (Aggelia, unknown). Children and college students had not yet discovered universal ethical principles and had, instead, adopted hedonistic ideas  (Aggelia, unknown) of ‘if it feels good do it’ and ‘do your own thing’ carried disrespect for authority to new heights; those same hippies have grown up and are running our country now. Please, forgive the digression: it is only a brief side-bar to the theme.)

            At stage five of development, people learn that the moral standards of the previous stage of their life are not held hostage to a firm set of rules but are subject to social contracts and a prior set of rights (Tigger, unknown). Or put another way; moral actions are not incumbent upon a checklist of rules but come from the application of abstract, universal moral principles. By now, young people have become adults and realize that pre-existing and inalienable rights existed before common law and must be protected by society. Retributive penalty is neither cogent nor just, because it does not support the rights and wellbeing of the individual. Right action needs to be clear in terms of general human rights and in terms of principles that have been seriously examined and agreed upon by the whole culture (Aggelia, unknown): e.g. the U.S. Constitution. The moral lesson our business owner would lean upon is this; just because the letter of contract law, employment code, or the IRS says I must absorb the cost of insuring the company as per the new Health Care rules does not mean I cannot mitigate as I need to save my business. Universal ethical principles, at the next level, transcend stage four truisms and act upon universal principles that are based upon the quality of worth of all humans (Tigger, unknown). Meaning, in practice: people are never means to an end, but are ends in themselves because having rights means more than an individual’s liberty. Otherwise this may be spoken to as the Golden Rule prototype (Aggelia, unknown). The small business owner may very well seek to transcend the laws he/she may feel disposed to adhere to, in favor of mitigating the circumstance. For the pedestrian, inherent understanding is; if the government can take them away, one does not really have a right.

            If it were me in the shoes of the hypothetical, small business owner and felt compelled to either let go half of my employees and keep benefits for the remainder or keep everyone but without any health care for any, I would find a way to mitigate. First I would tell everyone the issue and throw light upon the problem. Then query the staff, one by one, to find out if any are double-covered by a spouse or significant other, anyone still living at home or young and healthy enough to be able to take out a far less expensive, high deductible plan, or voluntarily take a benefit cut in exchange for a salary increase. I would seek to change the parameters of the fight to a playing field where I could win without sacrificing the integrity my family counts on from me and still retain the confidence of my employees.


Aggelia. (unknown). Implications for Theology. Retrieved July 26, 2010, from KOHLBERG’S            STAGES OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT:

Tigger. (unknown). Moral Development . Retrieved July 25, 2010, from Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development and Education:

The History of Project Management


The History of Project Management

Mike Herschel

MPM401-1003B-07: Project Management Theory

For Derrick Nelson

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The History of Project Management

A Maximum of Productivity with a Minimum of Participation

          Humans have needed tools since we were all swinging in the trees and scavenging for bananas; it is only the shape of the tools that they use that differentiate us from the Great Apes  (Herschel, 2010). Yet Project Management, as we know it now, began to codify only a few decades ago with an objective of maximum productivity with a minimum of participation. Henry Gannt is considered to be the father of project management – as his planning and organizing methods with the use of bar charts and spreadsheets as a project management tool – and history  recognizes him as the leading predecessor for modern project management practices deployed today.  The Giza Pyramid, the Parthenon, the Coliseum, the Gothic Cathedrals of Europe, the Taj Mahal, and the Transcontinental Railway:  to consider these massive projects without any proper management scheme would be an unjust commentary to journal today for their ancestors. These were not incongruities in history but projects delivered in a methodical way with features similar to today’s projects. Typically, they had a project charter, a business justification, followed a life-cycle of phases, and assimilated all of the Project Management Process Groups (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing), and addressed all nine PMBOK knowledge areas (Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Human Resources, Communications, Risk, and Procurement)  (Allen , unknown). The conception of project management was alive in the womb of our civilization, but its name was coined and structure defined and designed by the modern world (Bista, unknown).

Renaissance Engineer

The Term Project Management

          Those unrelenting builders, the ancient Romans, gave us the genealogy of the words starting with the Latin projectum: meaning, originally, to throw something. And the word project originally meant ‘something that comes before anything else is done. When modern engineers of the 19th century first started bandying these terms about, it was understood to mean a plan of something but did not speak to the act of actually carrying it out. The modernization of the word project changed in the 1950’s when it became understood to incorporate the idea of an objective (Bista, unknown).  The first engineers were military engineers, irrigators, and architects. The same man was usually expected to be an expert at all three kinds of work. This was still the case thousands of years later, during the Renaissance, when Leonardo and Michelangelo were not only all-around professional engineers but stupendous artists too. The ancient monuments cannot fail to incite awe and wonder. The esteem is embodied in the name ‘engineer’ itself.  Originating in the eleventh century from the Latin word ingeniator:  meaning one with ingeniumor – or as we would say now, the ingenious one. The name, used for builders of inspired fortifications or makers of imaginative devices, was closely related to the concept of ingenuity, which was captured in the old meaning of  ‘engine’ until the word was taken over by steam engines and other mechanical devices.  In fact, Leonardo da Vinci bore the official title of Ingegnere Generale: ingenious general. His notebooks reveal that it was the Renaissance engineers who first began to ask systematically what works and why (Bista, unknown).


The Renaissance to the Scientific Revolution to the First Industrial Revolution

          The Renaissance led to the great European Voyages of Exploration of the 15th century. Spanning the oceans and the world with advances delivered by usage of grids/maps, the astrolabe, compass, lateen sail, and improvements in ship building; the projects were very high risk but had a great return on investment and, additionally, acted as reagents for adventures to the far corners of the earth. For example, only one of the five ships returned from Magellan’s fleet, packed with cloves, and this covered the costs of the whole of expedition. Within the last few hundred years there has been tremendous further development in project varieties. This was propelled by the First Scientific Revolution (spawned by the Renaissance) that made universally available significant scientific discoveries and inventions and directly impacted Western society. Developments in Mathematics and Physics had an impact on Project Management also as it moved from a purely non-empirical approach to one based on scientific and mathematical calculation that could reliably predict prospective empirical outcomes. The forces in a structure could now be calculated thereby vastly improving estimates for resource materials. This began the first phase of Modern Engineering that required professional project management to drive it.

The Scientific Revolution led to the First Industrial Revolution and the awesome changes it brought about. The industrial revolution began when the quality of iron was significantly improved and at a lower cost. Inexpensive iron stimulated the evolution of s the steam engine. By 1750 the revolution began to pick up pace as the steam engine started to be  applied to different problems which further propelled advances in mechanical engineering. The obtainability of cast iron made it a logical choice for structures like bridges as it was significantly lighter than a stone bridge that required an enormous arch span. The Iron Bridge project, over the River Severn in Coalbrookdale, demonstrated the challenges faced by projects and also the complications of new materials and technologies. For example, the project estimates were so significantly off for the Iron Bridge Project that it bankrupted Darby, the project builder (Bista, unknown).

The Second Industrial Revolution

The enormous changes in the Western World along with the Second Industrial Revolution needed a far more structured and disciplined approach to business and management. As the scale of objectives changed, projects based on scientific research and principles pushed out forever the now far, outdated models. With this came the nativity of management principles for the business world that bore manifest destiny to become the pillar of project management. With the onset of the 19th century the drop in production costs for materials like concrete and iron was a facilitator for growth in infrastructure projects for conveyance: like canals, bridges, and rails. There came with it a progressive rise in mega projects that were infinitely more complex and required superior planning. For example, the Transcontinental Railroad project, built in half the projected time, needed a supply chain that stretched 18,000 miles. Similarly, the Transatlantic Cable project pressed technologies to the limit in trying to establish an electrical link at depths of 4 miles. These milestones required more sophisticated systems of transportation, storage, manufacturing, assembly, and distribution. Now we required new institutions, establishments, and organizations as well as a multitude of new emerging technological breakthroughs namely: the chemical industry which grew from the manufacture of fertilizers that included the exploitation of fossil fuels.  The revolution also created the internal combustion engine which leads to the birth of the automotive industries. In parallel, the electrical industry develops from the electrical dynamo and motor which lead to an burst of consumer driven electrical devices and telephones. This was the Second Industrial Revolution that led to the mega infrastructure projects of the 20th century that, in turn heralded the creation road networks, hydro dams, electrical and telephone networks (Bista, unknown).


The World Wars, the Cold War to the Digital Age
“The work of the engineers in most departments is not sufficiently routinized to allow process control. The most satisfactory policy appears to be that of employing competent men and then holding them [responsible] for results in terms of the erection schedule, leaving ways and means largely to their individual discretion.”

–        MIT professor Erwin Schell articulated this philosophy, telling students in the 1930’s

The First World War mobilized continents with huge armies and resources into a global conflagration which came to be a protracted state of stalemate. It showed the industrialization of war and leveraged mass production, mass transportation, and mass mobilization. The logistical operation supplying the British Expeditionary Force, by 1918, was the largest the world had ever seen. Between the two world wars, new disciplines were augmented by studies of business management; notably, human relationships and industrial human relations schools of management arose to deal with the practical problems caused by the grinding repetition of tasks.  The Third Industrial Revolution, from 1940 to today, has been dominated by computers both electro-mechanical and electronic, information, and the Internet. It also has seen the institutionalization of management practices into business. This was hastened by the Second World War that brought mega projects: for example, the history of the world was changed by the Colossus computers at Bletchley Park (1943), the Normandy Invasion or D-day (1944), and the Manhattan project (1945). The Cold War mirrored the exhibition of the third industrial revolution and the advances made in the use of information/intelligence in the Second World War. It also saw the manufacturing of a large number of planes, rockets, and complex technology projects by the US Air Force and Navy based on experiments and prototypes in the Second World War. These projects saw the first use and development of both CPM (Critical Path Method) and PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) techniques and charts, and Microsoft Project 2010 (Bista, unknown): giving project managers greater control than has ever been seen. Today has found us automating the process of Project Management: America – what a country!


Allen , P. (unknown). Lessons from the Past that Assist the Projects of Today. Retrieved August 28, 2010, from The History of Project Management:

Bista, B. (unknown). History and Evolution. Retrieved August 28, 2010, from Project Management:

Herschel, M. (2010). Project Management Tools. CTUO, MPM401-1003B-07: Project Management Theory. MPM401-1003B-07.

Social Investing: Trend or True Investment Philosophy, Investors speak out

Social Investing: Trend or True Investment Philosophy, Investors speak out.

Michael Herschel

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Social Investing: Trend or True Investment Philosophy, Investors speak out.

            Before beginning the research for this essay, I was among the disingenuous crowd that would believe that the movement toward socially responsible investment was, indeed, only a trend. Now I know I could not have possibly been more wrong; wanting to put one’s hard-earned money into funds that parallel moral and ethical concerns (, 2008) is not a fad; the phenomena is an extension of a modern civilized and global culture event.

            The owner of a San Antonio wet cleaner’s called Clothesline Cleaners, Derba Mills, promotes itself as a ‘green cleaner’. I asked her why she chose to build a dry cleaning business around a technology that was more expensive to operate than the rest of the industry she competes with. Her answer surprised me. Ms. Mills said that she wanted to correct an imbalance. You see, dry cleaners traditionally use very toxic and dangerous chemistry to effectively clean textiles and she wants to correct past mistakes. She knows other small business owners that have told her that they would set up a store anywhere but next to a dry cleaner: because it was so smelly. So, when Derba started her business, there was no way that she was going to offend people by watching them gasp for air when they entered her plant (D. Mills, personal interview, August 10, 2008).

            I did not have to go far for my second interview. My wife is Diana Ackerman, the Threadbender; a successful vintage wedding gown seamstress. Her work with vintage textiles was an easy choice for her as her she happens to be a third generation tailor. When I asked Diana why ‘being green’ is such an important aspect of her work, she replied that when she does an alteration or modification to a family heirloom, she feels compelled to use the same textiles from the era the gown was first made to transform a wedding gown, veil, or garter to fit a modern bride’s vision but using only the techniques and materials of the era when first made. So, in that way, she does not further harm the planet by using new components with plastic combs, or made-in-China lace (D. L. Ackerman-Herschel, personal interview, August 8, 2008).

            The first concessions to ethical behavior, as relates to this thesis, came from two interviews of small business owners speaking to a moral understanding of their place in society first and their juxtaposition in the world second. Could this possibly be a trend; one that would go away eventually, like the hula-hoop? I don’t think so.

            And I am not the only one either. In 1980, a stockbroker named Amy Domini noticed that some of her clients were not pleased to invest in companies in industries with which they disagreed: like defense contractors and tobacco companies. She heard those investors question if it were possible to follow their investment objectives without contravening their conscience. In the 1980’s, this was a difficult thing to do. But it made sense to Amy to see a new way of ethically investing was emerging. Moral personalities with a social conscience were beginning to demand the investment trades work the way they wished and not the way they had always done business. In 1984 she authored the book Ethical Investing in an effort to understand how this type of socially cognitive strategy could complement each other. It was finally in 1989 that she partnered with Peter Kinder and Steve Lydenburg to compose the Domini 400 Social Index; an index of 400 primarily large-cap U.S. corporations that are selected on a basis of a wide range of social and environmental standards. A year later they introduced the Domini Social Equity Fund to trace the index fund. Domini believes now that social investors use three fundamental tools to achieve their financial objective: application of social and environmental standards, shareholder advocacy, and community investing (Domini Social Investments, 1997-2007). This is not a trend, it’s a movement.

            And the movement has tentacles that reach to public broadcasting giant Fox News and the Bill O’Reilly news program The O’Reilly Factor. According to Human Events essayist W. Thomas Smith Jr., published in an article titled Doing Business with the Devil, he explains perfectly Bill’s position on the matter. According to O’Reilly, “GE has about $50 million on the table in business dealings with Iran. Doing the math, that means $250 million could have been derived since Iran began killing Americans in Iraq about five years ago. (Smith Jr., 2008).” Mr. Smith reports on a statement by GE’s director of financial communications saying that GE is down to two contracts with global oil and gas companies only and that those contracts would be expired at the end of June 2008.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission queried GE in the summer of 2006 and the company duly disclosed that it not only doing business with private firms in Iran but directly with the Iranian government (Smith Jr., 2008). Fast forward to June 12, 2008: in an article published in the Wall Street Journal and reported on by Messrs. Benoit Faucon and Roshanak Taghavi titled Oil Majors Say US Restrictions Delay Iran Project, that the impact of delayed GE equipment – due to American  restrictions on selling technology or equipment – are forcing natural gas companies Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Spanish-Argentine Repsol YPF to not sign an agreement worth $10 billion dollars with Iran because of the delay in implementing a later phase of the project. Quoting directly Shell Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer at a May 20 shareholders meeting, “Due to American sanctions, we can’t apply American technology or equipment (and) will need longer for the preparation of the project.”  The ramifications of the delayed investment are said to be significant (Faucon & Taghavi, 2008). GE is not the only company to face socially responsive, moral, and ethical concerns. Responding to trepidation in investments from a New York fireman pension fund, the U.S. firm of Halliburton disclosed $50 million dollars of Iran revenue for 2003. We, as the general public, would have never known if not for the conscience of a group of fireman in New York. So, did all the fuss Bill O’Reilly made for GE have an impact on the corporate mettle of an industry giant? We shall likely never know for certain, but I, for one, would certainly like to think so.

            Should there be any doubt in one’s mind that the reasoning behind and the actuation of well-conceived socially responsible investing is here to stay as a new tool for the global community to snip at the hindquarters of the CEO’s in the ivory towers of commerce, allow me to offer one more piece of information gleaned from the Social Investment Forum of the Advocacy and Public Policy forum of Washington, D.C. This groups’ sole stated purpose is to make communication between its associates easier, provide a stage to coordinate public policy decisions, make research funds available, and allow for “members and colleagues to share information and collaborate on shareholder proposals, social investing and corporate social responsibility issues (Social Investment Forum, 2007).” Among the group’s accomplishments is a 2003 litigation victory that requires registered mutual funds and registered investment advisors to disclose their proxy voting guidelines and the votes actually cast on behalf of their clients. This group conducts seminars, public education campaigns, and seeks to create occasions for socially responsible investing (Social Investment Forum, 2007).

            These are stories and testimonies that have touched me immeasurably. Remarkable and aggressive activists are in the world now and are determined to make a difference in the future we leave our children. These are the type of forward-looking campaigners I can place hope for change into.  This leaves me with only one question; where’s a bold stand of oak when I need one? I need to hug one.

References (2008). social investing. Retrieved August 10, 2008, from



Domini Social Investments. (1997-2007). The Domini Story. Retrieved

            August 10, 2008, from Domini Social Investments:


Ebert, R. L., & Griffin, R. W. (2007). Business Essentials, Sixth Edition.

            Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Faucon, B., & Taghavi, R. (2008, June 12). Oil Majors Say US

            Restrictions Delay Iran Projects. Retrieved from

            Yale Global Online:


Smith Jr., W. T. (2008, June 2). Doing Business with the Devil. Retrieved

            August 10, 2008, from Human Events:


Social Investment Forum. (2007). Advocacy and Public Policy.

            Retrieved August 10, 2008, from Social Investment Forum:


Perfectly Contented and Pleading Child

Perfectly Contented and Pleading Child

Michael Herschel

Task List: LTR215-0903A-05: World Literature

For Gerald J. Honadle

Sunday, September 12, 2010


            Discuss a Literary analysis of Two Kinds by Amy Tan (Tan, 2009). Identify the theme and how the setting, characters, plot development, and symbolism lead to that story’s expansion.

Perfectly Contented and Pleading Child

A literary analysis of Two Kinds by Amy Tan

The short story by Ms. Tan speaks masterfully to the world of the first generation Chinese-American. The theme is developed as personal growth of an unsuspecting nature. As the plot develops, one is lulled to distraction by the consistent juvenile assertions of ‘me, me, me’, ‘so bad, so sad’, ‘gotta be me’ that the reader is conditioned to expect the child to never find personal enlightenment of any kind as the time line in the chronicle advances. Then suddenly, at the very end of the story, the child that was always pleading to be left alone finds that she has become perfectly contented after all (Tan, 2009).

Written in first person, the character development draws the reader almost unconsciously into the Chinatown of San Francisco, California in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. And the piano lessons the recalcitrant, self-loathing young girl is forced to suffer become part of the theme of unexpected self-growth. As a literary device, the use of first person allows a certain personal relationship with the reader to develop. It is at once an art form that can express specific meaning through language by which the observer (reader) can gain understanding and appreciation of the scene created before them (Braiman, 2007). Allowing one into the mind, as it were, of the speaker specifically identifies parts of the setting the author wishes to underscore to create the elements of conflict and surprise at the interaction of other characters. The development of these newly introduced people has special meaning if great care is taken, as Ms. Tan did, in bringing the characters to life in the plot surrounding the piano lessons the young girl certainly had no wish, as a youngster, to tolerate. The conflict that piano lessons created between the young Ms. Tan and her mother were made exasperatingly clear as the rendition of the composition “Pleading Child” was followed by a poor showing at a recital insisted upon by her demanding mother. Through the device of using first person, the broken heart her mother suffered was known only to the reader as one is made aware that the young girl had no caring for the feelings of others.

The young Ms. Tan had little regard for the other characters in the story either. As the plot develops, the characters are introduced into what becomes for the reader, a well-known area of Chinatown – San Francisco style. The deaf piano teacher was a source in the story for the childish misbehavior of cheating the teacher of understanding that his ward was not playing her lessons well. This literary license of first person alleviated the burden for Ms. Tan of inventing characters and story line (Foote, unknown).

Every scene in this story is enhanced by the characters introduced. Because each scene must have a purpose in order to advance the plot (Jansen, 2009). The scene in which the ill-fated recital was written was all the more poignant because the picture it provided introduced characters in the family’s immediate circle of friends and the neighborhood in which they lived that served the story line’s sub-theme of embarrassing Ms. Tan’s mother. The young Amy played so poorly that peers in the audience were heard to say, “That was awful! (Tan, 2009). But the scene created the most important revelation of all, as the devastated young musician understood how her mother internalized the concert.

But my mother’s expression was what devastated me: a quiet, blank look that said she had lost everything. I felt the same way, and it seemed as if everybody were now coming up, like gawkers at the scene of an accident, to see what parts were actually missing.

The coda of the theme is the unexpected realization that the author exists as two sides of the same coin. As an older person, Amy finds herself as a young woman that had not accomplished much with her life but had found solace and détente with her mother with the reintroduced literary device of the piano that had been the source of so much pain for both of them. The manuscript of the infamous “Pleading Child” sheet music had a part of it re-introduced that was long forgotten and more easily played than she could imagine. The counterpart to the composition was called “Perfectly Contented.” And after playing both a few times she realized that they were “two halves of the same song” (Tan, 2009).


Braiman, J. (2007). Literary Devices. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from Literary Devices:             

Foote, T. (unknown). Literary Journalism. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from Literary                         Journalism:

Jansen, J. (2009, April 30). Every Scene Must Have a Purpose. Retrieved July10, 2009,  from http://writing-           

Tan, A. (2009). Two Kinds. Boston – New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Privacy Concerns in the Medical Industry Today

Privacy Concerns in the Medical Industry Today

Michael G. Herschel


For Professor Gary Reinke

September 12, 2010


Elaborate upon privacy issues that concern all American in the new digital age, relevant to one’s personal medical history.

            In keeping with the spirit of the new digital age, America has become crazy for all things electronic. However, the author has found many things about the moral and ethical behavior of the business-as-usual crowd that bear redress. Old-fashioned values and mores have not been supplanted by information instilled at the speed of light, except for those whom have not yet lost a job because of a medical history, been denied medical insurance, or had evidence of a physiological issue thrown across the billboard of the internet.  Of course, the firms that do not have the fear of litigation hovering like a Sword of Damocles over the boardroom, will not get the message until it is too late for them.

            The Healthcare industry has much to worry about when considering compromised patient records. According to a recent article in Biotech Week (Biotech Week, 2008), the industry’s concentration upon medical privacy and compliance has created significant and transparent data leakage.

“Healthcare facilities are complex environments where information is stored and shared in a number of ways that are critical to patient well-being,” said Brian Lapidus, chief operating officer of Kroll Fraud Solutions. “Until healthcare organizations expand their data security measures to address the threat of data compromise as well as privacy and compliance, patients will continue to be at risk.”

Patients alone share all the risk that compromised data can bring to bear upon the disenfranchised victims of medical record fraud.  It is clear; the institutions that bear the responsibility of keeping patient records safe are at great risk of litigation. In the professional journal Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing profession (Vol .15, 2007) A charge nurse’s employment was terminated because of a “….breach of confidentiality, co-workers’ emails, (and) charts.”  The journal noted that it was in violation of the institution’s policies protecting the confidentiality of colleagues email accounts and computer terminals.

            Public health records have become a prominent site upon the radar of the highest office in the land. President George W. Bush signed executive order #13410 mandating the development of interoperability standards. Those standards and issues regarding personal health records are discussed at length by Mike McBride when he stated,  “…. privacy, security and interoperability are the primary issues facing health information exchange, which is the basis for regional health information networks” (The Other Side of EMR, 2007-11).  The author firmly believes personal information should remain sacrosanct in the hands of the ones entrusted with the safekeeping.  Personal medical history would show diabetes treatment for fifteen years, hypertensive care, and other maladies. That information could cost the acquisition of a new job, if an employer had easy access to it. That knowledge is against the law to use as reason for denying employment but, when known, has been used secretly to deny it. This has happened to me, as it was made known by third-party disclosure, and it can happen to you.


  1. Breach of Confidentiality, Journal: Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter for the Nursing Profession, Vol. 15, Issue 11, p 8(1).  (December 1, 2007)
  2. The Other Side of EMR, McBride, Mike, Journal: Health Management Technology, Vol. 28, Issue 11, p. 6(0) (November, 2007)
  3. Kroll Fraud Solutions; Gaps in Hospital Security Policies Put Patient Data at Risk, According to New Report, Biotech Week via  (April 24, 2008)