As a medical coder, it’s imperative you are always informed and educated about changes to the American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) Standards of Ethical Coding. This is critical not only for your career, but for the way in which you handle patient data in your coding practices. Failing to comply with the most current ethical standards can result in a loss of your job and professional coding certifications and memberships.
Because you work closely with confidential patient records and play a critical role in providers’ collection abilities, you must follow a code of ethics to protect both patients and providers. There are many reasons why a code of ethics is an integral part of any medical coder’s performance, including confidentiality, accuracy and credibility.
As noted above, ethical standards ensure that coders are vigilant about confidentiality so patients’ medical information is not wrongly shared with third parties. In addition to AHIMA’s ethical code of conduct, coders should be aware that confidentiality in all patient recordkeeping is legally required by HIPPA.
In terms of accuracy, AHIMA’s ethical standards require honest reporting of medical records to accurately reflect the work performed by a provider. Not only is this critical for accurate billing practices, but also to ensure each patient’s medical condition is being treated and diagnosed properly.
Lastly, credibility is a significant factor when it comes to adhering to ethical coding practices. Following AHIMA’s ethical code of conduct demonstrates knowledge of federal regulations, medical terminology and disease processes you must have to work in the field. Maintaining required credentials is part of any medical coder’s responsibility to the employers and patients they serve.
According to the Journal of AHIMA, the changes to these ethical coding standards (which were updated in December 2016), now include new definitions which provide “terminology consistency and clarity” without repetition of each standard. Be sure to update yourself on the 11 revised ethical coding principles as set forth by the AHIMA.
Adherence to the ethical standards above, and all the ethics established by the AHIMA, will ensure you’re maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct.
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