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Issues in Ethics: Ethical Reporting

About This Document

Published 2020. This Issues in Ethics statement is new and is consistent with the Code of Ethics (2016). The Board of Ethics reviews Issues in Ethics statements periodically to ensure that they meet the needs of the professions and are consistent with ASHA policies.

Issues in Ethics Statements: Definition

From time to time, the Board of Ethics (hereinafter, the "Board") determines that members and certificate holders can benefit from additional analysis and instruction concerning a specific issue of ethical conduct. Issues in Ethics statements are intended to heighten sensitivity and increase awareness. They are illustrative of the Code of Ethics (2016) (hereinafter, the "Code") and are intended to promote thoughtful consideration of ethical issues. They may assist members and certificate holders in engaging in self-guided ethical decision making. These statements do not absolutely prohibit or require specified activity. The facts and circumstances surrounding a matter of concern will determine whether the activity is ethical.

Introduction

Ethical reporting is a process of transparency. Foundational to proper, professional, and ethical conduct is the intent to be honest, accurate, and complete when providing required information. Many clinical, research, and teaching scenarios can potentially foster a natural tension between professional obligation and personal preference/gain. In reporting, misrepresentation by both errors of omission and commission, as well as by conflicts of interest, may create ethical violations. Adherence to professional obligations and standards in the Code is essential to minimize a possible ethical violation.

Reporting ethically requires you to proactively and deliberately provide honest and complete information in all areas of professional practice (e.g., credentials, services, relationships, payments, and advertising).

Self-reporting is a special case of reporting in which you must disclose receipt of professional discipline or criminal convictions to ASHA Standards and Ethics. ASHA members and certificate holders, and applicants for certification, must also disclose these circumstances by self-reporting the information to ASHA.

The Code fully addresses ethical reporting. Specific rules in Principles I, III, and IV address professional conduct regarding one's responsibility to the public served and adherence to professional standards.

Guidance

Code Provisions Related to Reporting

Ethical reporting is the responsibility of ASHA-certified audiologists and speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists who are ASHA members; ASHA members who are not certified; and applicants for ASHA certification and/or membership.

The need for, and importance of, ethical reporting is reflected by the number of Code Principles and Rules. It is the responsibility of individuals under the Code’s jurisdiction to report honestly, accurately, and completely.

  • Report credentials appropriately. (Principle I, Rule D; Principle III, Rule A)
  • Accurately report and represent the intended purpose of services, products, or research endeavors. (Principle I, Rule J)
  • Report reasonable statements of prognosis when providing services. (Principle I, Rule L)
  • Accurately report and record services provided, products dispensed, or research/scholarly activities conducted. (Principle I, Rule Q)
  • Appropriately report education, training, experience, and scholarly contributions. (Principle III, Rule A)
  • Truthfully report research and scholarly activities, diagnostic information, services provided, results of services provided, products dispensed, or the effects of products dispensed. (Principle III, Rule C; Principle IV, Rule C)
  • Correctly report payment, reimbursement, grants and contracts for services provided, research conducted, or products dispensed. (Principle III, Rule D)
  • Report accurate and complete information about the nature and management of communication disorders, the professions, professional services, products for sale, and research/scholarly activities. (Principle III, Rule E)
  • Truthfully report the source when using other persons’ ideas, research, presentations, results, or products in written, oral, or any other media presentation or summary. (Principle IV, Rule K)
  • Report credit only to those who have contributed to publications, presentations, processes, or products in proportion to the contributions and only with the contributor's consent. (Principle IV, Rule J)
  • Report members of other professions who are known to have violated standards of care to the appropriate professional licensing authority or board, other professional regulatory body, or professional association when such violation compromises the welfare of persons served and/or research participants. (Principle IV, Rule N)
  • When involved in an ethics complaint, do not knowingly report false statements of facts or withhold relevant facts necessary to fairly adjudicate the complaint. (Principle IV, Rule Q)

Code Provisions Related to Self-Reporting, Including Disclosure

When completing an initial or reinstatement application for ASHA certification and/or membership, applicants must truthfully answer the following three questions related to formal professional discipline and criminal convictions, regardless of local employment laws or regulations. These self-reported acts are considered disclosure.

  1. Have you ever been convicted; been found guilty; entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere; or been granted an intervention in lieu of conviction, plea, or further investigation/final findings of allegations to 
    • any misdemeanor involving dishonesty, physical harm to the person or property of another, or a threat of physical harm to the person or property of another or
    • any felony? 
  2. Are you presently indicted on or charged with
    • one or more misdemeanors involving dishonesty, physical harm to the person or property of another, or threat of physical harm to the person or property of another
      or 
    • one or more felonies?
  3. Have you ever been 
    • disciplined or sanctioned, other than for insufficient professional or continuing education, by any professional association, professional licensing authority or board, or other professional regulatory body?
    • denied a license or a professional credential by any professional association, professional licensing authority or board, or other professional regulatory body?

ASHA members and/or certificate holders whose certification status becomes " Not Current" are also required to answer these same three questions upon renewal. Those applicants who can answer "yes"—affirmative disclosure—to any of the three questions must do so, in addition to submitting certified documentation regarding the discipline or conviction when requested.

All ASHA certification applications (initial and reinstatement) and renewals that include an affirmative disclosure are subject to a separate review process by the Disclosure Committee of the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC). Depending on the seriousness of the disclosure made concerning criminal offenses or disciplinary actions, the Disclosure Committee may deny certification to the applicant and/or refer the matter to the Board to determine whether the individual has violated the Code of Ethics.

The obligation to report does not end with the application—it continues for ASHA members and certificate holders through Principle IV, Rules S and T of the Code.

Principle IV, Rule S (self-reporting crimes)

  • Self-report misdemeanors and felonies—in writing—to ASHA Standards and Ethics within 30 days of the conviction, plea, or finding of guilt. Notify ASHA if you have been convicted; found guilty; or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to (1) any misdemeanor involving dishonesty, physical harm—or the threat of physical harm—to the person or property of another, or (2) any felony within 30 days of the conviction, plea, or finding of guilt.

Principle IV, Rule T (self-reporting professional discipline)

  • Self-report public professional sanctioning or denial of a license or credential—in writing—to ASHA Standards and Ethics within 30 days of the final action or disposition.
  • Notify ASHA if you have been publicly sanctioned or denied a license or a professional credential by any professional association, professional licensing authority or board, or other professional regulatory body within 30 days of the final action or disposition.

Summary

The Code provides guidance about ethical reporting across many areas of practice and research. If you are concerned that either you or a colleague has not properly self-reported or disclosed required information or conflicts of interest or has not accurately reported professional and/or research information, and may have violated the Code, you have several options.

Regarding a colleague/other practitioner/ASHA member/applicant:

  • Discuss your observations with the colleague and encourage them to disclose and/or self-report.
  • Report the colleague to the appropriate state licensure board, professional association, or agency.
  • Consider whether to file a complaint with the Board.

Regarding yourself:

  • Consult the Code and appropriate Issues in Ethics Statement(s) for more information and guidance.
  • Read the applicable state code(s) of conduct.
  • Self-report to ASHA Standards and Ethics any misdemeanors (see Principle IV, Rule S above); felonies; public sanctions; and denials of licenses and/or credentials.
  • Disclose any financial and/or nonfinancial conflicts of interest.
  • Consider whether a complaint could be filed against you with the Board and/or the state licensure board alleging a violation or violations, particularly if you are a supervisor or Clinical Fellowship mentor.
  • Contact ASHA Ethics at ethics@asha.org for further information and direction.

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