Sanctions Compliance in the Healthcare Industry: Key Considerations


Sanctions are measures imposed to pressure countries, entities, or individuals, aiming to effect policy or behavioral changes. The healthcare industry is affected by sanctions, impacting medical trade, financial transactions, immigration status of healthcare workers, and movement of medical supplies. Healthcare organizations must be aware of applicable sanctions regimes, and comply with relevant laws and regulations.

Key Considerations for Sanctions Compliance in the Healthcare Industry

Keeping Up with Changing Sanctions Regimes

Staying updated with dynamic and frequently changing sanctions regimes is crucial. This is because inconsistencies and conflicts arise, as sanctions vary in scope, criteria, and enforcement across jurisdictions.

Identifying and Screening Sanctioned Parties

Screening sanctioned parties is challenging due to aliases, complex ownership structures, intermediaries, or front companies. Therefore, regular updates and reviews of screening lists and databases are necessary.

Understanding and Applying Sanctions Restrictions

Comprehending and adhering to complex and ambiguous sanctions restrictions depends on types of sanctions, the nature of the activity, the origin/destination of goods or services, and the involvement of third parties. Exemptions, exceptions, or licenses for humanitarian purposes or policy reasons should be considered.

Managing Operational and Reputational Impacts

Sanctions compliance issues can cause significant operational and reputational impacts. For example, delays, disruptions, costs, penalties, lawsuits, audits, or investigations can harm reputation and trust among customers, suppliers, regulators, and stakeholders.

Using Reliable and Updated Sources of Information

Reliable and updated information sources such as official sanctions lists, databases, websites, or reputable third-party providers are crucial. Accordingly, monitoring changes and updates in sanctions regimes and adjusting compliance programs is essential.

Implementing a Risk-Based Screening Process

Implementing a risk-based screening process verifies the identity and status of stakeholders. Thus, it is necessary to utilizing appropriate screening software, tools, and techniques to handle large data volumes, match name variations, and flag potential hits or false positives.

Applying the Appropriate Sanctions Restrictions

Adhering to appropriate sanctions restrictions depends on the type and scope of the sanctions, the nature and location of the healthcare activity, the origin and destination of the goods or services, and the involvement of third parties. Awareness of available exemptions, exceptions, or licenses for humanitarian purposes or policy reasons is important.

Documenting and Reporting Sanctions Compliance Issues

Documenting and reporting compliance issues includes maintaining records of screening results, due diligence findings, risk assessments, policies, procedures, training sessions, audits, incidents, breaches, corrective actions, and/or remedial measures. Reporting violations or suspicious activities to relevant authorities or regulators is required.

Reviewing and Updating Sanctions Compliance Programs

Reviewing and updating sanctions compliance programs, which can involve conducting periodic audits or assessments of the effectiveness and adequacy of the sanctions compliance program, identifying any gaps or weaknesses, implementing any improvements or enhancements, and measuring the performance and outcomes of the program. Healthcare organizations should also seek feedback from internal and external stakeholders, such as employees, customers, suppliers, regulators or auditors on their sanctions compliance program.


Sanctions compliance presents challenges and risks in healthcare operations and transactions. However, it is a legal obligation and moral duty for organizations striving to provide quality and accessible healthcare. Establishing tailored and effective sanctions compliance programs aligned with international humanitarian law and the right to health helps organizations avoid the negative consequences of sanctions violations and contributes to the global peace and security goals that sanctions seek to achieve.

Related Article