This revised edition of the Code of Medical Ethics is the culmination of an eight-year project to modernize the Code's ethical guidance for relevance, clarity and consistency. It represents the first comprehensive review of the Code in more than half a century.
The Code of Medical Ethics was adopted at the first AMA meeting in 1847. Much in medicine has changed in 169 years, but this founding document — the first uniform code of ethics of its kind — is still the basis of an explicit social contract between physicians and their patients. It is regularly cited as the medical profession's authoritative voice in legal opinions and in scholarly journals. It should be in every medical library and practice office.
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One of the goals of the modernization was to make the Code simpler to navigate and related opinions easier to find so that physicians could more readily apply the Code to their daily practice of medicine. Changes made include:
- Created a more intuitive chapter structure so that ethical guidance is easy to find
- Implemented a uniform format for opinions so that guidance is easy to read and apply
- Consolidated guidance into a single, comprehensive statement on each topic that streamlines the AMA Code
- Identified, updated and retired guidance that had become significantly outdated over time
- Employed accepted definitions and consistent terminology to help minimize misinterpretation of guidance
- Included a new preface to clarify the different levels of ethical obligation in the various ethical opinions