Response by Charles Anderson
Ethics Roundtable: Are Sales Quotas Appropriate in Clinical Settings?
Charles Anderson, Ph.D.
Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology
University of Iowa
Depending on how Mr. Allen deals with having a sales quota of 10 hearing aids he must sell each two-week period, he may or may not have a conflict of interest. Allen, however, is placed in the situation of having the appearance of a conflict of interest. He is vulnerable to having his decisions about the clients' needs for using hearing aids be influenced by his need to sell hearing aids. Thus, he could be compromising clients' welfare. The requirement to sell a minimum number of hearing aids may well present a conflict of interest to Allen as he provides services and products to his clients.
The employer is placing Allen in a situation where he risks violating Principle of Ethics III, Rule B: "individuals shall not participate in professional activities that constitute a conflict of interest." In addition, the employer is at risk for violating Principle of Ethics IV, Rule A: "individuals shall prohibit anyone under their supervision from engaging in any practice that violates the Code of Ethics." In the context of this case, a useful substitute for "prohibit" in this rule is "shall not require"
Sales quotas may be appropriate when selling items such as sports equipment or Caribbean cruises but are quite inappropriate when providing healthcare services and products.
To submit cases or to be added to the list of respondents please contact: Helen Sharp Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, 307 WJSHC University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242. Phone: 319-335-6596, fax 319-335-8851, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org