Standards for ethical conduct in clinical coding
The Code of Ethics for Clinical Coders has been in the Appendices of the Australian Coding Standards since its inception (July 1998). An update occurred for second edition (2000), however since that time the document has remained as is. The ICD Technical Group (ITG) discussions across the December 2015 and March 2016 meetings, suggested that ACCD undertake a revision of the code of ethics in line with changes within the industry. This update was not because it was thought that clinical coders were doing the wrong thing, but because feedback was indicating that clinical coders need a more detailed document to protect them if they are asked to do something that could seem unethical during the coding process.
ACCD undertook a revision of the existing code of ethics, with consideration of other professional body’s code of ethics/professional codes of conduct within Australia and internationally (including the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA), the Clinical Coders Society of Australia (CCSA), Canada, United States of America, and the United Kingdom).
ACCD considered issues such as:
- What information is required in a code of ethics in today’s coding setting?
- What is impacting on clinical coding in the current environment?
- Why do we have a code of ethics?
- What ethical issues are impacting upon the clinical coding workforce?
- Are clinical coders being pressured to write unethical clinician queries?
The draft document was shared with ITG members (that included representatives from HIMAA and CCSA) for comment, and a final document was produced.
The new Standards for ethical conduct in clinical coding has three components:
- Ethics in Clinical Coding Practice
- Ethics in Clinical Coding Quality and Education
- Ethics in Clinical Coding and Legal Requirements
Ethics in Clinical Coding Practice details the ethics that should be upheld in day to day coding, including clinician queries.
Ethics in Clinical Coding Quality and Education details clinical coder participation in activities to improve coding practice within the work environment, and developing the profession.
Ethics in Clinical Coding and Legal Requirements details legal ethics, however it does not replace any legal requirement placed on clinical coders (i.e. Privacy Act)
Following more recent feedback from Stakeholders during 2017, a clarification document on the application of the “Standards for ethical conduct in clinical coding” has been developed in consultation with the ITG and the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority. This clarification document is to be used in conjunction with the “Standards for ethical conduct in clinical coding” to support good clinical coding practice.