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Ethics

The HIM professional has an obligation to demonstrate actions that reflect values. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Code of Ethics sets forth these principles.  (See also AHIMA Mission, Vision, Values.)

The code is relevant to all AHIMA members and non-members holding an AHIMA certification. These purposes strengthen the HIM professional’s efforts to improve overall quality of healthcare.

Members of the American Health Information Management Association may be subject to disciplinary action for unprofessional or otherwise inappropriate conduct or for adverse legal, regulatory, or credentialing actions, as described in the AHIMA Code of Ethics.

The AHIMA Code of Ethics serves six purposes:

  • Promotes high standards of HIM practice.
  • Summarizes broad ethical principles that reflect the profession's core values.
  • Establishes a set of ethical principles to be used to guide decision-making and actions.
  • Establishes a framework for professional behavior and responsibilities when professional obligations conflict or ethical uncertainties arise.
  • Provides ethical principles by which the general public can hold the HIM professional accountable.
  • Mentors practitioners new to the field to HIM's mission, values, and ethical principles.

The code includes principles that are enforceable and aspirational. The extent to which each principle is enforceable is a matter of professional judgment to be exercised by those responsible for reviewing alleged violations of ethical principles.

Coding is recognized as one of the core health information management (HIM) functions within healthcare. Due to the complex regulatory requirements affecting the health information coding process, coding professionals are frequently faced with ethical coding and coding-related challenges.

The Standards of Ethical Coding are important established guidelines for any coding professional and are based on the American Health Information Management Association's (AHIMA's) Code of Ethics. Both reflect expectations of professional conduct for coding professionals involved in diagnostic and/or procedural coding, data abstraction and related coding and/or data activities.

The Ethical Standards for Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) Professionals are based on the American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA’s) Code of Ethics and the Standards for Ethical Coding. A Code of Ethics sets forth professional values and ethical principles and offers ethical guidelines to which professionals aspire and by which their actions can be judged.

A Code of Ethics is important in helping to guide the decision-making process and can be referenced by individuals, agencies, organizations, and bodies (such as licensing and regulatory boards, insurance providers, courts of law, government agencies, and other professional groups).

Members and credentialed nonmembers of the American Health Information Management Association agree, as a condition of membership and certification, to abide by AHIMA’s Code of Ethics. The Ethics Self-Assessment is developed to help you identify your areas of strength in ethics and areas you might wish to strengthen.  

This tool is intended for personal use only. 

These case studies have been developed to complement the Ethics Self-Assessment. The case studies intend to help AHIMA members, AHIMA-certified HIM professionals, and students learn how to examine and resolve ethical issues they may confront in their own organizations.

Some were based on actual ethics complaints brought before the AHIMA Professional Ethics Committee, and others on AHIMA’s Code of Ethics and the Ethics Self-Assessment, which all HIM professionals are expected to complete.

Each case study includes a scenario describing a potential ethical dilemma, a choice of responses, and questions to facilitate thought and discussion to determine if the situation is indeed an ethical issue and, if so, how a satisfactory resolution can be reached.

Case Study I. Privacy/Confidentiality

Case Study II. External Relationships

Case Study III. Adherence to AHIMA Code of Ethics/Professionalism 

Case Study IV. Work Environment

Case Study V. Interpersonal Relationships

Case Study VI. Self-Reflection

Case Study VII. Compliance

Case Study VIII. Sustaining the Profession through the Support of Educational Opportunities

Case Study IX. AHIMA Membership Responsibilities

Case Study X. Management/Leadership

Case Study XI. Threats to Data Integrity

Ethics Violations

Submit a Complaint on an AHIMA Member

If you believe an AHIMA member has violated the Code of Ethics, you may file a complaint with AHIMA. To submit a member complaint, complete the Alleged Violation of AHIMA Code of Ethics form  and submit to profession.governance@ahima.org. For additional information, please read the AHIMA Policy and Procedures for Disciplinary Review and Appeal.

Submit a Complaint on an AHIMA Certified Member or Non-Member

Potential ethics violations regarding misconduct that involves currently certified individuals (i.e. certificate holders) must be submitted via an Ethics Complaint Form, along with supporting documentation, to CCHIIM@ahima.org or mailed to the address below. The CCHIIM Review Panel hears potential ethics violations regarding misconduct, pursuant to the AHIMA Code of Ethics and the CCHIIM Disciplinary and Appeal Policy. For additional information please see the CCHIIM Disciplinary and Appeal Policy Flowchart.

AHIMA
CCHIIM- Certification Department
233 N. Michigan Ave, 21st Floor
Chicago, IL 60601

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