American Academy of Ophthalmology
Code of Ethics
The Code officially took effect Jan. 1, 1984. The Code applies solely to Academy Fellows and Members and only for actions occurring after Jan. 1, 1984.
Rules of the Code of Ethics
The Code of Ethics of the American Academy of Ophthalmology applies to the American Academy of Ophthalmology and to its fellows and Members, and is enforceable by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Rules of Ethics
An ophthalmologist is a physician who is educated and trained to provide medical and surgical care of the eyes and related structures. An ophthalmologist should perform only those procedures in which the ophthalmologist is competent by virtue of specific training or experience or is assisted by one who is. An ophthalmologist must not misrepresent credentials, training, experience, ability or results.
2. Informed Consent.
The performance of medical or surgical procedures shall be preceded by appropriate informed consent.
3. Clinical Trials and Investigative Procedures.
Use of clinical trials or investigative procedures shall be approved by adequate review mechanisms. Clinical trials and investigative procedures are those conducted to develop adequate information on which to base prognostic or therapeutic decisions or to determine etiology or pathogenesis, in circumstances in which insufficient information exists. Appropriate informed consent for these procedures must recognize their special nature and ramifications.
5. The Impaired Ophthalmologist.
A physically, mentally or emotionally impaired ophthalmologist should withdraw from those aspects of practice affected by the impairment. If an impaired ophthalmologist does not cease inappropriate behavior, it is the duty of other ophthalmologists who know of the impairment to take action to attempt to assure correction of the situation. This may involve a wide range of remedial actions.
6. Pretreatment Assessment.
Treatment shall be recommended only after a careful consideration of the patient's physical, social, emotional and occupational needs. The ophthalmologist must evaluate the patient and assure that the evaluation accurately documents the ophthalmic findings and the indications for treatment. Recommendation of unnecessary treatment or withholding of necessary treatment is unethical.
7. Delegation of Services.
Delegation is the use of auxiliary health care personnel to provide eye care services for which the ophthalmologist is responsible. An ophthalmologist must not delegate to an auxiliary those aspects of eye care within the unique competence of the ophthalmologist (which do not include those permitted by law to be performed by auxiliaries). When other aspects of eye care for which the ophthalmologist is responsible are delegated to an auxiliary, the auxiliary must be qualified and adequately supervised. An ophthalmologist may make different arrangements for the delegation of eye care in special circumstances, so long as the patient's welfare and rights are the primary considerations.
8. Postoperative Care.
The providing of postoperative eye care until the patient has recovered is integral to patient management. The operating ophthalmologist should provide those aspects of postoperative eye care within the unique competence of the ophthalmologist (which do not include those permitted by law to be performed by auxiliaries). Otherwise, the operating ophthalmologist must make arrangements before surgery for referral of the patient to another ophthalmologist, with the patient's approval and that of the other ophthalmologist. The operating ophthalmologist may make different arrangements for the provision of those aspects of postoperative eye care within the unique competence of the ophthalmologist in special circumstances, such as emergencies or when no ophthalmologist is available, so long as the patient's welfare and rights are the primary considerations. Fees should reflect postoperative eye care arrangements with advance disclosure to the patient.
9. Medical and Surgical Procedures.
An ophthalmologist must not misrepresent the service that is performed or the charges made for that service.
10. Procedures and Materials.
Ophthalmologists should order only those laboratory procedures, optical devices or pharmacological agents that are in the best interest of the patient. Ordering unnecessary procedures or materials or withholding necessary procedures or materials is unethical.
11. Commercial Relationships.
An ophthalmologist's clinical judgment and practice must not be affected by economic interest in, commitment to, or benefit from professionally related commercial enterprises.
12. Communications to Colleagues.
Communications to colleagues must be accurate and truthful.
13. Communications to the Public.
Communications to the public must be accurate. They must not convey false, untrue, deceptive, or misleading information through statements, testimonials, photographs, graphics or other means. They must not omit material information without which the communications would be deceptive. Communications must not appeal to an individual's anxiety in an excessive or unfair way; and they must not create unjustified expectations of results. If communications refer to benefits or other attributes of ophthalmic procedures that involve significant risks, realistic assessments of their safety and efficacy must also be included, as well as the availability of alternatives and, where necessary to avoid deception, descriptions and/or assessments of the benefits or other attributes of those alternatives. Communications must not misrepresent an ophthalmologist's credentials, training, experience or ability, and must not contain material claims of superiority that cannot be substantiated. If a communication results from payment by an ophthalmologist, this must be disclosed unless the nature, format or medium makes it apparent.
14. Interrelations Between Ophthalmologists.
Interrelations between ophthalmologists must be conducted in a manner that advances the best interests of the patient, including the sharing of relevant information.
15. Conflict of Interest.
A conflict of interest exists when professional judgment concerning the well being of the patient has a reasonable chance of being influenced by other interests of the provider. Disclosure of a conflict of interest is required in communications to patients, the public, and colleagues.