The ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§Brush with AIDSÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨ case discusses the situation involving HalseyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s sharps containers. AIDS and HIV diseases are deadly and contagious. Hospitals want to protect their staff and employees from the spread of diseases. They use sharps containers from Halsey to prevent the spread of disease. There is a problem with the Halsey line of products. The protagonist (Amy) in this case has to face an ethical dilemma which forces her to choose between her moral duty to protect the customersÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦ needs from the spreading of the deadly AIDS disease or her obligation to her companyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s profit performance.
Halsey is a leading health care company that provides the best products and services to customers all around the world. Amy is a senior market manager in the nursing services unit of Halsey health products. Her responsibility is to accept the used needles and syringes. AmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s goals are restrictively gross profit dollar oriented.
At Halsey, Amy is committing to making the profit plan and to attaining the profit target her manager set. Amy wants to keep the sales going up and upholding the highest quality and customer services. In 1989, Amy became aware of a serious potential conflict between the sharps containers product line to the hospitals and the risks to the health care workers using it.
HalseyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s sharps containers product are very successful. Their sales have been increasing dramatically and HaleyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s wants to expand the market. Sharps containers can be placed in every hospital room to allow for point of use disposal. With the AIDS frenzy in the hospital and the management trying to protect its employees, sharps containers products were highly demanded. Therefore, customers are willing to pay almost any price. AmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s sales were successful and she may be getting a promotion.
Unfortunately, there is a problem about sharps product. Sales reps and customers began complaining about sharps containers. Sharps containers made from plastic were shattering in cold temperatures and those used needles were able to penetrate the plastic casing. To Amy this problem can be solving easily by asking hospitals to place sharps containers in room temperature storage to prevent the product from cracking. The needles penetrate the plastic casing because the plastic is not thick enough. Increasing the thickness of the plastic can prevent the needle from penetrating. However, the decision of increasing the plastic thickness risk eroding the product lineÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s performance and the gross profit target at Halsey. To satisfy customer needs and provide the best products, Halsey sales reps handle the complaint by replacing the broken sharps containers free of charge.
Halsey line of sharps products met the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommendation in millimeter thickness. Halsey also met the guidelines and there is no competitive product more effective product than Halsey. The company also was not at risk for the liability contingencies because their products met the guidelines.
Amy found herself focusing not on how solve the customerÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s problem. Instead, she actively engaged in the risk management of gross profit dollar plan. Her yearly base bonus of $ 10,000 would increase by 1% for every 1% she surpass her target. She would not receive any bonus if she did not reach the target. Amy knew that improving the product would lead to financial disaster and it would set back her chances for promotion.
AmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s director, Phil, who is a middle manager had been a successful performer at Halsey for 13 years. He is very committed to the company and he is more concerned with profit performance. PhilÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s upper management put him under pressure to show large profits. Phil is people-sensitive to the point that he would try to appease everyone instead of taking a strong stand on the issues. He hides what he really feels order to make other people happy.
Amy became more concerned about the impact of the sharps product failures on the sales force. She came and discussed the issues with Phil. She suggested to Phil that they have an obligation to improve the product lines. However, Phil did not listen to Amy; he only focused on how the product failure would effect his profit performing. Amy wanted to go directly to senior management and discuss the serious problem of HalseyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s line of products. However, she was afraid that talking to the senior management would harm her working relationship with Phil.
Amy has to choose between two alternatives. Once is to recall for the improvement of the products. Another option is to do nothing. AmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s first reaction is doing nothing. She could rationalize that none of her competitors were improving their products. HalseyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s line of product met the CDC and OSHA guidelines. She could engage in damage control by providing excuses to the sales force and to the consumers. She also could pretend nothing happened by finishing the year with a profit plan, get her promotion and leave the mess behind. Amy could maintain the working relationship with Phil. She can use the Rights Approach to argue for her action. The right approach is focused on the individualÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s right to choose, her company will gain the profit but only for a short term.
The other option is to go straight to senior management and discuss the problems and product improvement. Amy might lose her promotion and ruin the working relationship with Phil. In this option, Amy can use the Utilitarian Approach and the Common Goods Approach. Utilitarian approach is that ethical actions are those that provide the greatest balance of good over evil; in other words, Amy chooses the action that will produce the greatest benefit and the least harm. The company might lose its profit in the short-term; however, it will gain the customers trust and profit in the long-term. The Common Good Approach is focused on ensuring that the social policies, social systems, institutions and environments on which we depend are beneficial to all. Amy tried to improve the sharps containers for the safety of the customer and tried to protect the risks to health care workers using it.
If I were in Amy shoes, I would choose option 2, to improve the Halsey line of products. I know that I might lose promotion and may jeopardize my job. However, I do not want to sell products that I know it will have negative effects in the future. I do not want to see the risks of health care workers using the products and the spread of deadly diseases like AIDS and HIV. I will be fully responsible for my decision. Therefore, by using the Common Good and Utilitarian Approaches, my ethical decision will provides the greatest good for the greatest number.
In conclusion, AmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s decision on whether or not to improve will have both positive and negative on people or the organization. In any ethical dilemma, any option made will still create losses for various groups. However, the option I choose to execute is the one I feel will most beneficial to society.