NAHQ Code of Ethics for the Healthcare Quality Profession and Code of Conduct
Code of Ethics for Healthcare Quality Professionals
A code of ethics clarifies roles and responsibilities within a profession and provides guidance to the professional for addressing common ethical questions. The increasingly respected designation of the Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality® and changes in the healthcare industry have generated a new appreciation for the essential role of the healthcare quality professional.
Ethics is the art of making value-laden choices. Questions of regulatory compliance generally are not ethical matters. The profession offers ethical principles to aid in the healthcare quality professionals’ execution of their duties as members of the profession. A professional is likely guided by several codes of ethics and standards of practice that relate to a person’s industry, licensure, certification and employer relationship. These codes may be complimentary or contradictory, requiring the professional to exercise judgment about the framework that applies to a specific ethical question.
A healthcare quality professional — regardless of his or her specific practice setting, organization size, or portfolio of work — is dedicated to improving clinical outcomes, reducing systemic waste, and ensuring stakeholder engagement and satisfaction. This purpose is often, but not always, captured in a specific quality role. A healthcare quality professional is defined by his or her purpose and not by a job description.
The NAHQ Code of Ethics informs individual decision-making about ethical situations within a given role or relationship.
II. The Healthcare Quality Professional's Commitment to Stakeholders
- SELF. Healthcare quality professionals work competently and impartially, practicing within the scope of their education and expertise. They advocate for processes that are fair, transparent, and consistent with evidence-based practices. They remain current on industry trends and best practices.
- HEALTHCARE RECIPIENTS. Healthcare quality professionals understand that recipients of healthcare services are the most vulnerable stakeholders in the system. They treat recipients with empathy and respect, honoring their autonomy and privacy. They support positive health outcomes for healthcare recipients.
- COLLEAGUES. Healthcare quality professionals provide consultative expertise. They support a fair and just use of influence to foster collaborative relationships.
- EMPLOYERS. Healthcare quality professionals extend to their employers the full benefit of their expertise as aligned with the profession’s body of knowledge.
- PROVIDERS. Healthcare quality professionals advocate for quality and safety regardless of healthcare setting. They facilitate seamless transitions of care among providers and provider groups. They support approaches to care that promote the right intervention to the right person at the right time and in the right setting.
- PURCHASERS. Healthcare quality professionals seek to reduce systemic waste among all stakeholders by advocating for interventions and processes that both improve health outcomes and minimize waste.
- RESEARCHERS. Healthcare quality professionals model transparency and replicability in their own work, and advocate for and leverage
evidence-based practices. They protect the autonomy and privacy of research subjects. They partner with academics and research scientists while respecting intellectual-property rights.
- REGULATORS. Healthcare quality professionals remain transparent and forthright with officials from government agencies, industry regulators, and accrediting bodies. They comply with regulations and standards and report critical information when necessary to protect the public interest.
- THE PUBLIC. Healthcare quality professionals work to improve healthcare delivery and processes within the community. They engage members of the community into forums that influence systems of care.
III. The Healthcare Quality Professional's Commitment within the Profession
- HEALTH DATA ANALYTICS. Healthcare quality professionals engaged in the work of data analytics follow best practices for data management and statistical practice. They ensure that the findings of data-driven inquiries are presented fairly, that work product is reproducible, and that defects and biases are appropriately disclosed.
- PATIENT SAFETY. Healthcare quality professionals advocate for policies and processes that support a safe environment of care. They advocate for processes that demonstrate high reliability, minimize defects, and mitigate harm to all stakeholders.
- PERFORMANCE AND PROCESS IMPROVEMENT. Healthcare quality professionals engaged in the work of performance improvement employ science-based best practices developed within established quality frameworks.
- POPULATION HEALTH AND CARE TRANSITIONS. Healthcare quality professionals supporting complex populations advocate for wellness practices in addition to disease management. They promote interventions that address the totality of a healthcare recipient’s circumstances.
- QUALITY REVIEW AND ACCOUNTABILITY. Healthcare quality professionals advocate for coaching and mentoring to foster accountability. They promote transparent team-based non-punitive approaches to mitigate problems and resolve disputes.
- REGULATORY AND ACCREDITATION. Healthcare quality professionals partner in good faith with regulators, auditors, and inspectors to foster compliance with relevant standards and regulations.
- LEADERSHIP. Healthcare quality professionals are forthright and transparent with the teams they lead. They encourage meaningful inter-professional relationships. They present information using clear, accurate, and concise language. They recruit and mentor colleagues to foster a coordinated and competent workforce aligned with the profession’s body of knowledge.
IV. The Healthcare Quality Professional's Commitment to the Profession
- BODY OF KNOWLEDGE. Healthcare quality professionals support the body of knowledge through careful study and application of evidence-based practices. They protect the integrity of the processes and procedures within the body of knowledge, guide colleagues outside of the profession to use quality tools effectively, and consult on the appropriate application of quality tools. They seek to fully understand how quality tools and processes apply to the healthcare industry. They contribute to the body of knowledge and to the evidence that supports evolving best practices.
- LIFELONG LEARNING. Healthcare quality professionals develop their skills through continuing education, certification, professional experience, and training. They remain current on industry trends. They seek new ways to apply the body of knowledge to emerging problems.
- MENTORING. Healthcare quality professionals advance the profession through mentoring, publishing, and volunteering. They help colleagues at various stages of their career to master the translation of quality tools to everyday practice. They share best practices about the application of the body of knowledge and foster a safe environment for collaboration and learning.
Code of Conduct for Healthcare Quality Professionals
As ambassadors for the healthcare quality profession, members of the National Association for Healthcare Quality and bearers of the Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality® (CPHQ) designation demonstrate high standards of personal conduct. They aspire to elevate the profession by modeling transparency, integrity, equity, truthfulness, and collaboration.
Standards of good conduct are influenced by corporate cultures, regional values, and personal beliefs. NAHQ encourages many ways of achieving excellence that are authentic to members regardless of their career trajectory. However, NAHQ expects that members and certificants observe the Code of Conduct for Healthcare Quality Professionals.
Members of the National Association for Healthcare Quality and bearers of the Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality® certification shall:
Abide by the NAHQ code of ethics.
Practice the profession with honesty, integrity, and accountability to maintain the confidence of stakeholders as defined in the NAHQ Code of Ethics.
Refrain from expressing sentiments or engaging in conduct that casts NAHQ, NAHQ staff, the profession, or its volunteers in an untruthful, unlawful, or defamatory light.
State truthfully and accurately one’s credentials, professional education, and experience.
Honor NAHQ’s intellectual-property rights.
Disclose actual or potential conflicts of interest that may arise in the context of any specific NAHQ volunteer opportunity.
Maintain confidentiality about relevant business information obtained directly or indirectly while volunteering with NAHQ or participating in a NAHQ-affiliated event.
All NAHQ members and CPHQ candidates for certification and recertification must read and abide by the Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct for Healthcare Quality Professionals. Failure to comply with the Code of Conduct may result in review processes that lead (minimally) to a peer coaching conversation or (maximally) to a termination of NAHQ membership, revocation of the CPHQ credential, or both.
Approved by NAHQ Board of Directors in April 2018.
Copyright © 2018 National Association for Healthcare Quality
All rights reserved. No part of this white paper may be modified, reproduced, or used in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any means of information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright holder.