Ethical Issues in Medical Assisting
As a certified or registered Medical Assistant (RMA or CMA), you are required to always maintain the highest level of moral and ethical standards when working with patients and staff. As part of your application to apply for or to maintain either your RMA or CMA, certifications (American Medical Technologists https://www.americanmedtech.org/Stay-Certified#177125-comply-with-ccp or the American Association of Medical Assistants http://www.aama-ntl.org/cma-aama-exam), you will be required to submit any violations of ethical standards to the appropriate Judiciary Committee including any criminal or drug related charges that you might be facing.
Serious ethical violations can lead to a suspension or revocation of your RMA or CMA certification or to other sanctions. Read on to learn about the AMT and AAMA Standards of Practice and what Ethical Standards you are expected to maintain when working in the field of Medical Assisting.
According to the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), Certified Medical Assistants must maintain a Code of Ethics to ensure the highest levels of ethical and moral character. This includes their pledge to:
A. “Render service with full respect for the dignity of humanity.
B. Respect confidential information obtained through employment unless legally authorized or required by responsible performance of duty to divulge such information.
C. Uphold the honor and high principles of the profession and accept its disciplines.
D. Seek to continually improve the knowledge and skills of medical assistants for the benefit of patients and professional colleagues.
E. Participate in additional service activities aimed toward improving the health and wellbeing of the community.”
The Medical Assisting Creed of the AAMA
The Medical Assisting Creed of the AAMA Outlines Important Statements of Belief to Maintain Ethical Standards for CMA’s including:
“I believe in the principles and purposes of the profession of Medical Assisting.
I endeavor to be more effective.
I aspire to render greater service.
I protect the confidence entrusted to me.
I am dedicated to the care and well-being of all people.
I am loyal to my employer.
I am true to the ethics of my profession.
I am strengthened by compassion, courage, and faith
The American Medical Technologist’s (AMT) Standards of Practice
The AMT’s Standards of Practice (http://americanmedtech.org/files/Standards%20of%20Practice%20.pdf) for Registered Medical Assistants (RMA’s), provides clear standards of ethical and professional behavior that must be adhered to maintain RMA certification/recertification including:
1. “While engaged in the Arts and Sciences, which constitute the practice of their profession, AMT professionals shall be dedicated to the provision of competent service.
2. The AMT professional shall place the health and welfare of the patient above all else.
3. The AMT professional understands the importance of thoroughness in the performance of duty, compassion with patients, and the importance of the tasks, which may be performed.
4. The AMT professional shall always seek to respect the rights of patients and health care providers and shall safeguard patient confidences.
5. The AMT professional will strive to increase his/her technical knowledge, shall continue to study, and apply scientific advancement in his/her specialty.
6. The AMT professional shall respect the law and will pledge to avoid dishonest, unethical or illegal practices.
7. The AMT professional understands that he/she is not to make or offer a diagnosis or interpretation unless he/she is a duly licensed physician/dentist or unless asked by the attending physician/dentist.
8. The AMT professional shall protect and value the judgement of the attending physician or dentist, providing this does not conflict with the behavior necessary to carry out Standard Number 2 above.
9. The AMT professional recognizes that any personal wrongdoing is his/her responsibility. It is also the professional health care provider’s obligation to report to the proper authorities any knowledge of professional abuse.
10. The AMT professional pledges personal honor and integrity and to cooperate in the advancement and expansion, by every lawful means, of American Medical Technologists.”
The AMT’s Requirement for Members to Report Felony Information
If you have been charged or convicted of a felony, the AMT requires that you fill out a Felony Information Checklist when renewing your RMA certification. This process can take up to 90 days and involves:
“Documenting if you were actually convicted of a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Documenting if the felony charge was for drug possession, aggravated assault, Battery, Arson, Burglary, Embezzlement, Murder, Rape or another type of felony.
It also requires a detailed description of the offenses you were convicted of such as:
When did the felony take place?
After the conviction, was jail or prison time served?
Are you still in jail/prison?
If not, when were you released?
Are you currently on probation/parole?
If you are not currently on probation/parole, when did it end?
Provide copies of any court documents / probation release forms if available.
AAMA Grounds for Denial of Eligibility for CMA Certification/Recertification
The AAMA has specific grounds for the denial of CMA Certification or Recertification including:
A candidate who has been found guilty or who has pleaded guilty to a felony
A candidate who has had a professional license revoked, suspended or put on probation
The AAMA will consider mitigating circumstances involving felony convictions and can grant a waiver if warranted to take the CMA exam. If you wish to request a waiver, fill out their Request for Waiver Form (http://www.aama-ntl.org/docs/default-source/cma-exam/cma-exam-request-waiver.pdf?sfvrsn=18).Conclusion
As a Certified or Registered Medical Assistant, you are expected to certain ethical duties and responsibilities to your patients which include: doing no harm, doing your best for every patient, being faithful to reasonable expectations of always treating the patient with dignity, always telling the truth and always respecting every patient’s right to privacy. Careful adherence to these ethical principles and abiding by the law at all times will help ensure flawless certification/recertification of your Medical Assistant credentials.