Code of Ethics for Patient and Health Care Advocates


In 2021, three leading professional societies representing patient and health care advocacy, HealthAdvocateX, NAHAC, and PACB, came together to form the Health Advocacy Collaborative Ethics Task Force (HACE). The purpose of their first-ever collaborative project was to review and update the Code of Ethics to align with the current times.

While it is normal practice for professional organizations to review and update relevant standards and codes on a regular basis, the past few years have introduced new pressures on organizations to ensure their ethics policy is a living document. The pandemic, advancing DEI initiatives, media information/disinformation, and technology disruptions to name a few, point to the dynamic changes affecting our world. Significant disruptions like these prompted the formation of the HACE task force.

Educational institutions and employers often fall short in providing training and resources to support ethical professional conduct[1]. As an emerging professional practice, patient and health care advocacy professional societies must fill that void. In fact, guiding members through professional ethics is a central responsibility for professional societies.

In theory, ethical decision-making should be the standard of behavior and not need to be formally taught. In practice, however, ethical misconduct occurs frequently, and as technology advances, the opportunities for unethical behavior increase each year. A code of ethics clarifies roles and responsibilities within a profession and provides guidance to the professional for addressing common ethical questions. Ethics involves making value-laden choices. As such the Collaborative Code of Ethics for Patient and Health Care Advocates outlines the ethical principles to aid in the advocates’ execution of their duties as members of the profession.

Advocates, in particular, come from very diverse backgrounds and may be guided by several codes of ethics and standards of practice that relate to their respective industries, licensures, certifications, and employer relationships. These codes may be complementary or contradictory, requiring the advocate to exercise judgment about the framework that applies to a specific ethical question or situation.


Important note to Board Certified Patient Advocates and Candidates for the Fall BCPA Exam Cycle:


PACB specific documents including but not limited to the Code of Professional Responsibility, the Board Certified Patient Advocate Continuing Education and Recertification Handbooks, the BCPA Candidate Handbook, the BCPA Exam Study Guide, and the Prolydian CE Manager are being updated to better align with the revised Ethical Standards. During that transition, the 2019 version of the Ethical Standards will continue to be available for reference.


Read the Code of Ethics


Code of Ethics for Patient and Health Care Advocates – Revised 2022

2019 Ethical Standards for a Board Certified Patient Advocate