Back to top

Code of Medical Ethics

Back to top

Since its adoption at the founding meeting of the American Medical Association in 1847, the AMA Code of Medical Ethics has articulated the values to which physicians commit themselves as members of the medical profession. Together, the Principles of Medical Ethics and the Opinions of the AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs that make up the Code offer guidance to help physicians meet the ethical challenges of medical practice.

The Code is a living document, updated periodically to address the changing conditions of medicine. This new edition, adopted in June 2016, is the culmination of an 8-year project to comprehensively review, update and reorganize guidance to ensure that the Code remains a timely, easy to use resource.

Overview

Concordance

List of new and current Opinion titles and numbers.

Chapter 1: Opinions on Patient-Physician Relationships

Building relationships of trust with patients is fundamental to ethical practice in medicine.

Chapter 2: Opinions on Consent, Communication & Decision Making

To enable patients to participate meaningfully in decisions about health care, physicians have a responsibility to provide information and help patients understand their medical condition and options for treatment.

Chapter 3: Opinions on Privacy, Confidentiality & Medical Records

Respecting patients' privacy and confidentiality is a core ethical obligation in medicine.

Chapter 4: Opinions on Genetics & Reproductive Medicine

Ongoing progress in genetic technologies opens new prospects for understanding and treating disease, while advances in reproductive technologies offer opportunities to create families in novel ways— posing challenges for patients, families, physicians and society.

Chapter 5: Opinions on Caring for Patients at the End of Life

As patients near the end of life, physicians play important roles in helping them make often difficult decisions and in providing compassionate care that is respectful of patients' values, goals and preferences.

Chapter 6: Opinions on Organ Procurement & Transplantation

Transplantation of organs and tissues can offer hope to gravely ill patients, but it not only poses challenges for protecting both donors and transplant recipients, it also brings into question how best to ensure the prudent use of scarce resources.

Chapter 7: Opinions on Research & Innovation

Physicians who are involved in clinical research have special responsibilities as investigators to protect the rights, safety and welfare of research participants that include matters of study design, informed consent and selection of participants.

Chapter 8: Opinions on Physicians & the Health of the Community

Although physicians' primary ethical obligation is to individual patients, they also have a responsibility to protect and promote public health.

Chapter 9: Opinions on Professional Self-regulation

Society permits medicine to set standards of ethical and professional conduct for physicians. In return, medicine is expected to hold physicians accountable for meeting those standards and to address lapses in professional conduct when they occur.

Chapter 10: Opinions on Interprofessional Relationships

Physicians are expected to uphold professional standards of conduct not only in their relationships with patients, but also in their relationships with other health care professionals.

Chapter 11: Opinions on Financing & Delivery of Health Care

In today's health care, patient-physician relationships are influenced by changing payment systems and models for delivering care and thus physicians must find new ways to balance responsibilities to multiple stakeholders.

Get the Revised Code

The revised edition of the Code of Medical Ethics is available as a hard cover, special commemorative edition book or e-book.

History of the Code of Medical Ethics

To understand the history of the Code of Medical Ethics, consult the previous years' versions of the Code, including the original class 1847 Code of Medical Ethics.

Principles of Medical Ethics:
2001 version

Email this page