As healthcare business professionals, we have many things for which we are responsible, which is to say, things within our control for which we are answerable or accountable. As AAPC members, we are accountable for our own professional conduct, and by living up to this obligation, we contribute to the success of our organization and our profession. We have an obligation to ensure the conduct of our colleagues is consistent with professional standards. The perception the healthcare industry has for AAPC and its members is in no small part based on the degree of professionalism we individually and collectively exhibit. It is for this reason that AAPC members are expected to uphold to ethical standards. Responsibility is a core principle in the AAPC Code of Ethics. It requires conformance with all other elements of the Code and requires every member to assist in the enforcement of the Code of Ethics.
While some think of responsibility in terms of blame (e.g., "Who is responsible for this?"), a more positive connotation is to think of responsibility in terms of opportunity. It is what allows us to exert choice and take control. A more practical definition of responsibility is the willingness to respond appropriately, regardless of the situation or the impact of doing so. Create the outcome you want through personal choices while following accepted ethical and moral rules; and recognize that each member is 100 percent responsible for the choices he or she makes.
The word “responsibility” is used in many different ways. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines responsibility or “responsible” as:
- Liable to be called on to answer
- Liable to be called to account as the primary cause, motive, or agent
- Being the cause or explanation
- Liable to legal review or in case of fault to penalties
- Able to answer for one's conduct and obligations
- Trustworthy and able to choose for oneself between right and wrong
Being responsible means considering how your personal decisions and actions may affect others, as well as you. All professionals share the obligation of being accountable for their choices and actions. Being responsible requires knowing your limitations. As healthcare business professionals, we are responsible primarily for our own work product and our own conduct. We are responsible for being competent and knowledgeable. We are responsible for giving our employers the benefit of our knowledge and advice, even though this advice may not be followed. Ultimately, we are responsible to uphold the image of our profession. We meet this obligation by controlling our own conduct and reporting instances of misconduct by others. We are accountable in both circumstances by virtue of the AAPC Code of Ethics.
Some may look at responsibility as a burden. A better approach is to look at it as an issue of trust. When you accept responsibility for something, others trust you will follow through. Employers seeking a healthcare professional place trust in you and your certification. Specifically, there is and must be trust that AAPC credentialed members possess all of the core values that our code of ethics demands: Integrity, Respect, Commitment, Competence, Fairness, and Responsibility. Your reputation is associated with the characteristics of other AAPC members. Acting irresponsibly results in a loss of trust and regaining that trust is difficult. Where one member violates the trust given by another, it not only damages the reputation of the individual, but of the profession. For this reason, a professional must always be a person holding themselves accountable for their actions and decisions. This is why AAPC members are required to comply with ethical obligations and why sanctions are imposed on those who do not conform to these standards.