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.
Romantic or sexual interactions detract from the goals of the patient-physician relationship and may exploit the vulnerability of the patient, compromise the physician’s ability to make objective judgments about the patient’s health care and ultimately be detrimental to the patient’s well-being.
Physician education & training
As educators, physicians have a responsibility to instill the ethical precepts of medicine and to be fair and respectful to trainees as well as to patients.
Physicians have a responsibility to maintain their own health and wellness, broadly construed as preventing or treating acute or chronic diseases, including mental illness, disabilities, and occupational stress. When physician health or wellness is compromised, so may the safety and effectiveness of the medical care provided.
Peer review & disciplinary action
Peer review by medical societies, hospital credentials and utilization committees, or other bodies, has long been established by organized medicine to scrutinize professional conduct. The peer review process is intended to balance physicians’ right to exercise medical judgment freely with the obligation to do so wisely and temperately.
Physician involvement in health care institutions
Physicians have a responsibility to promote patient safety, quality of care and respectful professional relationships as individuals and through the organized medical staff of health care facilities.
Physician promotion & marketing practices
As responsible businessmen and professionals, physicians must commmunicate truthfully about their practices and take care that conflicts of interest do not undermine their professional conduct or compromise the trust of patients and the public.
Physician interactions with government agencies
As citizens and as professionals with specialized knowledge and experience, physicians have civic duties, but medical ethics do not require a physician to carry out such duties when that would contradict fundamental principles of medical ethics.
AMA Code of Medical Ethics
Visit the Code of Medical Ethics page to access additional Opinions, the Principles of Medical Ethics and the list of current and previous Opinion titles.
These Opinions are offered as ethics guidance for physicians and are not intended to establish standards of clinical practice or rules of law.