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History of AMA Ethics

In 1847 the American Medical Association revolutionized medicine in the United States. Members of the newly formed organization, meeting in Philadelphia as the first national professional medical organization in the world, dedicated themselves to establishing uniform standards for professional education, training, and conduct. They unanimously adopted the world's first national code of professional ethics in medicine. For the more than 160 years since, the AMA's Code of Medical Ethics has been the authoritative ethics guide for practicing physicians.

The Code articulates the enduring values of medicine as a profession. As a statement of the values to which physicians commit themselves individually and collectively, the Code is a touchstone for medicine as a professional community. It defines medicine’s integrity and the source of the profession’s authority to self-regulate.

At the same time, the Code of Medical Ethics is a living document, evolving as changes in medicine and the delivery of health care raise new questions about how the profession's core values apply in physicians' day to day practice. The Code links theory and practice, ethical principles and real world dilemmas in the care of patients.

Principles of Medical Ethics:

Read the original class 1847 Code of Medical Ethics