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We expect the highest level of integrity from our learners, and encourage respect and fairness at all times. 

Code of Ethics

Ethical standards exist in every profession. Integrity is a key element of what every profession considers appropriate ethical behavior. In professional and/or business relationships, integrity is a much sought after trait. Certainly no physician would hire a coder lacking integrity, just as no patient would likely choose a physician lacking integrity. Similarly, coders appreciate working with co-workers and for employers who exhibit integrity.

Although it is not difficult to understand the importance of integrity in business relationships (as well as personal ones), it is sometimes difficult to determine what integrity actually is. Honesty, truthfulness, honor, dependability, and trustworthiness are all traits of those with integrity; as is upholding a moral standard of conduct in both professional and personal endeavors. Standards governing professional conduct include knowing how you present yourself, your work ethic, and how you communicate with others.

Integrity

Integrity requires strong moral principles: good character, honor, and honesty. Honesty is fairly cut and dry, but "good character" and "honor" are more obtuse qualities. It may be easier to illustrate the concept of integrity through examples:

  • While on the clock at work, do you work diligently as your employer would expect, or do you take time out to conduct personal business? Employers expect employees to work the hours for which they are being compensated. Employees are not paid to socialize, surf the Internet, pay bills, update their Facebook status, etc. An employee with integrity will provide the level of effort his or her employer is paying for and will self-regulate work behavior. Employees acting with integrity resist the temptation to engage in non-work-related activities.
  • Do you cut corners and neglect workplace regulations? In healthcare, ignoring policies can lead to mistakes, noncompliance, and potentially life-threatening situations for patients. Taking shortcuts or seeking the easiest way to get through the day does not reflect a person with integrity.
  • Do you treat co-workers with respect? A person with integrity looks beyond his or her own interests and pursues team-centered goals. This requires polite and professional communication, appropriate interactions, and respect for the thoughts and opinions of co-workers. When disagreements arise (on coding, for example), do you objectively consider the position of your peers? Are you willing to be proved wrong? If the position of the other person is wrong, do you use the situation as an opportunity to educate or ridicule?

Is integrity like some diets where you get a cheat day? If you tell the truth most of the time does that make you truly honest? The answer to both questions is no because true integrity requires absolute adherence to an appropriate moral code and honesty requires a person always be truthful. This is a difficult standard of conduct; however, it is easier to meet than you may think. When faced with the choice of acting with integrity, you are often required to choose the harder right rather than the easier wrong. Your fellow professionals, especially those serving on the ethics committee, as well as most employers, recognize that no one is perfect. In real terms, this is a recognition that absolute integrity is something we can only strive to achieve. When you recognize lapses in judgement, how you react will ultimately define your character. In such circumstances, a person with integrity corrects the situation, learns from it, and accepts any associated penalty. Doing so will gain the respect of your co-workers and employers.

Fairness

As an ACCPA learner, you are ethically and professionally responsible for treating co-workers, employers, and colleagues fairly, as well as obligated to foster an environment of fairness whether it be at work, a chapter meeting, or other professional event. The principle of fairness requires impartiality, honesty, and the disclosure of material conflicts of interest. A conflict of interest generally occurs when you're in a position to influence a decision on behalf of a particular party when your decision, more likely than not, will affect another party to whom you have a corresponding and competing loyalty. Fairness generally involves a total disregard of personal feelings, prejudices, and desires to attain a proper balance of conflicting interests. Fairness is treating others in the same fashion you want to be treated.

Fairness is at the core of all professional engagements. It's very likely that the person seeking your professional services has substantially less knowledge and training in the area of coding than yourself. You bring your knowledge and training as a healthcare business professional to establish a relationship of trust to deliver services and advice to the client. You are responsible to ensure an environment of inclusiveness and a commitment to diversity in the organization you serve.

As an ACCPA learner, you are given the responsibility of developing, administering, and advocating policies and procedures that foster fair, consistent, and equitable treatment for all. Regardless of your personal interests, you are obligated to support and foster a corporate culture made of decisions by your organization that are both ethical and legal. It is your ethical duty to conduct yourself in a manner that equalizes your self-interests with the interests of others. To achieve this goal, you must always act impartially and objectively. When you consider each statement or action from the perspective of those on the receiving side, choosing the correct approach becomes more readily apparent.



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