American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, Inc
Code of Ethics
Adopted by the Membership of AAAAI
March 16, 1998
This Summary is not intended as complete restatement of, or as a substitute for, the full text of the Code of Ethics and the Code itself should be consulted in the event of any matter invoking or otherwise involving an interpretation of the Code.
A. Overview of Structure of Code of Ethics.
The Code of Ethics is divided into three principal parts. Part I contains aspirational model standards of professional conduct based on the Principles of Medical Ethics of the American Medical Association and are not enforceable as such. Part II contains mandatory, specific and enforceable rules of conduct for all members of AAAAI regardless of class (including Fellows). Part III of the Code of Ethics describes AAAAI's Ethics Committee and administrative procedures for handling inquiries regarding interpretation of the Code of Ethics and challenges involving alleged breaches by the member of the enforceable provisions of the Code.
B. Summary of AMA Principles of Medical Ethics.
The first part of the Code of Ethics restates the AMA's Principles of Medical Ethics (Section I. of the Code of Ethics). These principles are aspirational model standards but are not enforceable as such. They include, for instance, the duties to be dedicated to providing competent services; to deal honestly with patients and colleagues; to respect the rights of patients and colleagues (including safeguarding patient confidences); and to study, apply and advance medical knowledge and to make such knowledge available to others.
C. Summary of Rules of Ethics.
The second part of the Code of Ethics contains numerous Rules of Ethics (Section II.A. of the Code of Ethics) the breach of which could give rise to enforcement action by AAAAI, which rules include the following:
1. Requirements of compliance with all AAAAI rules and other requirements, as well as all laws, government regulations and requirements of other bodies governing the AAAAI member on account of his/her professional status (e.g., health care entities, boards of medical examiners, self-regulatory bodies).
2. Requirement that a member's clinical judgment may not be affected by an economic interest in any professionally related commercial enterprise.
3. Prohibition against members accepting gifts, grants, hospitality or the like if same would influence clinical judgment or the selection of products used in patient treatment.
4. Requirements that public statements and statements to the press should preserve patient confidentiality and be truthful and that self-aggrandizement and self-dealing in making such statements be avoided.
5. Prohibition against members using the imprimatur of AAAAI or its name or logo without AAAAI's consent or creating the impression that the member speaks for AAAAI or that endorsement.
6. Requirement that all advertising be direct, comprehensible and not violative of the dignity of the medical profession or otherwise false or misleading.
As stated above, a breach of any of these rules could give rise to disciplinary action against the member under this Code of Ethics (see below).
D. Summary of Conflict of Interest Policy.
Also included in the Rules of Ethics is a summary of AAAAI's Policy and Procedures Regarding Actual or Potential Conflicts of Interest (see Section II.B. of the Code of Ethics).
1. Types of Conflicts.
AAAAI's Conflict of Interest Policy is designed so that decisions made by or on behalf of AAAAI are not unduly influenced by any special interests of its individual members. In this regard, the Policy seeks to identify actual or potential conflicts of interest.
2. Disclosure of Conflicts.
The cornerstone of AAAAI's Conflict of Interest Policy is disclosure of actual and potential conflicts so that they can be evaluated by AAAAI and adjustments made in order to avoid undue influence of the disclosed interest. In this regard, the Policy provides for comprehensive procedures and forms for making such disclosure. This procedure includes:
(a) Annual submission of forms by officers, board members, Journal editors, chairs, committee, council and task force members and senior staff in order to disclose actual or potential conflicts:
(b) A procedure (including forms) for giving notice of a conflict and to abstain from participating in any item of business which comes before a board, committee or other meeting.
(c) A procedure (including forms) for participants in business meetings, conferences or other dealings of AAAAI members to inform members of any significant influences upon the participant's views.
(d) A procedure (including forms) for speakers at scientific meetings, symposia or other conferences conducted under AAAAI auspices to inform members of any significant influence on the speaker.
(e) A procedure for authors of manuscripts submitted for publication in the Journal of Clinical Immunology to alert Journal editors of any financial support received by the author or any other financial interest that the author may have which might affect the author's manuscript.
E. Policy Re Gifts to Members from Industry.
The Rules of Ethics also include a policy regarding gifts to AAAAI members from industry (see Section II.C. of the Code). This Policy, while recognizing that certain gifts from industry are customary and appropriate, sets out rules of conduct with respect to inappropriate gifts which may not be consistent with accepted principles of medical ethics. These rules include:
1. A limitation on gifts given to members to those which would primarily entail a benefit to patients and not be of substantial value (e.g., tax books, modest meals which serve an educational function).
2. A requirement that any gift accepted by a member relate to the member's work.
3. A limitation on subsidies to underwrite the costs of continuing medical education conferences or professional meetings to those which contribute to improvement of patient care.
4. A prohibition against subsidies from industry to pay for travel, lodging or other personal expenses of attending a conference or meeting.
5. A prohibition against subsidies for hospitality, except for modest meals or social events held as part of a conference.
6. A prohibition against gifts if there are strings attached.
F. Administrative Procedures.
The third part of the Code of Ethics (Section III. of the Code) sets forth the structure and operation of AAAAI's Ethics Committee and the procedure for the Ethics Committee and the Board of Directors to handle inquiries and challenges raised under the Rules of Ethics.
1. The Ethics Committee.
The Ethics Committee consists of AAAAI members and is responsible for educating the membership regarding the Code of Ethics, responding to inquiries thereunder and investigating and recommending action with respect to challenges under the Code of Ethics. The Ethics Committee meets on an as needed basis in accordance with procedures described in the Code of Ethics.
2. Inquiries and Challenges.
Anybody, whether or not an AAAAI member, may submit to the Ethics Committee a request for an advisory opinion interpreting any provision of the Code of Ethics (an inquiry). Additionally, any person may request a finding that an AAAAI member has failed to observe any provision of the Rules of Ethics (a challenge). Generally, the Ethics Committee will conduct an investigation of an inquiry or challenge in accordance with procedures described in the Code of Ethics. In each case, the Ethics Committee makes a recommendation to the AAAAI Board of Directors regarding appropriate action, if any, to be taken. Affected parties have appeal rights as set forth in the Code of Ethics.
Sanctions may be imposed upon a member for failure to observe the Rules of Ethics, including (depending on the nature and severity of the matter), reprimand, suspension or termination of membership.