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Code of Ethics for Professional Patient Advocates

The Professional Patient Advocate Institute (PPAI) is an organization and a community aligned around the common cause of providing advocacy for consumers as they strive to secure their healthcare needs and cover their insurance and financial matters.

Today, it is recommended that each consumer have a patient advocate (see this AHRQ page) to assist them as they navigate the complex and fragmented healthcare system. Most healthcare professionals see themselves as serving an advocacy role for their patients, however their time and scope can be limited by their job function. The Professional Patient Advocate fulfills a vital function for the patient, the family and other healthcare providers in the quest toward ensuring the optimal delivery of healthcare.

Patient advocacy is an emerging and dynamic field in its early stages of definition, accepted scope of practice and agreed educational requirement or accredited certification. Through its training, resources and national network, PPAI seeks to work collaboratively with its members and other professional advocacy organizations to enhance the practice, define the definitions surrounding the practice and discuss the scope of practice for the field so that it is transparent to consumers, other healthcare practitioners and stakeholders, as well as legislative representatives.

To bring those in the field of patient advocacy together, PPAI shares the following preliminary Code of Ethics. PPAI leadership is open to comments from members, the advisory board and and others in the field to ensure all stakeholders are represented.

The draft Code of Ethics will be reviewed and revised to reflect the industry as needed.

Principle 1

Objectivity: The role of the Professional Patient Advocate is to represent the patient and family first and foremost, regardless of their organization’s interests.

Principle 2

Scope of Practice: The Professional Patient Advocate must know his or her scope of practice and work within his or her scope of practice. Other members of the healthcare team should be utilized as needed to meet the demands of a client that may go beyond the individual advocate’s scope of practice.

Principle 3

Full disclosure of services, fees and length of time services will be performed: The Professional Patient Advocate must provide to the patient and their family (if involved) a document that fully discloses the role and function as well as fees and services the patient advocate will perform before starting services. A contract outlining the scope of services the professional advocate will perform and length of time those services will be in place should be agreed to prior to the commencement of services.

Principle 4

Confidentiality: A Professional Patient Advocate should obtain a consent that authorizes the patient advocate to speak and act on behalf of the patients in health and healthcare matters in accordance with federal confidentiality laws. The consent should be dated and presented on each encounter the professional patient advocate has with or on behalf of the patient.

Principle 5

Promoting Autonomy: The Professional Patient Advocate’s role is to educate and empower the patient to make informed decisions in regard to their health and healthcare based on their individual wishes and in keeping with their cultural, spiritual, religious and ethical beliefs.

Principle 6

Accountability: The Professional Patient Advocate is held accountable for the work done on behalf of his or her patients.

Principle 7

Continuous Learning: The Professional Patient Advocate commits to continuous learning in order to keep up to date on clinical matters and with trends and advances that impact patient care.