REVISIONS STRENGTHEN AHIMA’S CODE OF ETHICS
A new update to AHIMA’s Code of Ethics addresses recent changes
in technology, healthcare, and association management—and the
accompanying complexity of competing interests and obligations they
By Sheila Hart-O’Connor
ALL WHO HOLD AHIMA’s credentials are responsible for performing their roles in accordance with AHIMA’s Code of Ethics.
The code’s core values—such as upholding the individual’s right
to privacy—are a constant, but the code requires periodic review to ensure its guidance reflects and addresses the current
healthcare environment. The industry has undergone unprecedented change in recent years, and last year AHIMA’s Professional Ethics Committee brought forward updates to the code
to ensure HIM professionals did not find their circumstances
outside its jurisdiction.
Over the course of 18 months from 2010 to 2011, members of
the ethics committee worked to understand current issues facing HIM professionals. Committee members arranged conference calls and review sessions with AHIMA Communities of
Practice, delegates, educators, attendees at AHIMA events, and
the board of directors. After incorporating the feedback from
these communities and meetings, the committee submitted
an updated code to the AHIMA House of Delegates, which approved it October 2, 2011.
What’s New with the Code
Built on the code’s existing principles and guidelines, which
were last updated in 2004, the new version responds to a number of topical changes in technology, healthcare, and association management. In addition, it incorporates what the ethics
committee learned in reviewing recent ethics violations and
The new code addresses these circumstances with stronger,
more specific language. It includes both new and strengthened
guidelines and is designed to assist HIM professionals in raising
their ethical standards “regardless of their professional functions, the settings in which they work, or the populations they
serve,” as described in the code’s introduction. Additionally, the
new code provides enhanced steps for reporting individual, unprofessional actions.
“Our ultimate goal was to create a code of ethics that outlines
the inherent ethical responsibilities all members possess who
work with health information and with health information
management professionals,” says 2011 committee chair Dana C.