Brotherton S, Kao A, Crigger BJ.
JAMA. Published online July 14, 2016.
The word profession is derived from the Latin word that means “to declare openly.” On June 13, 2016, the first comprehensive update of the AMA Code of Medical Ethics in more than 50 years was adopted at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA). By so doing, physician delegates attending the meeting, who represent every state and nearly every specialty, publicly professed to uphold the values that are the underpinning of the ethical practice of medicine in service to patients and the public.
The AMA Code was created in 1847 as a national code of ethics for physicians, the first of its kind for any profession anywhere in the world.1 Since its inception, the AMA Code has been a living document that has evolved and expanded as medicine and its social environment have changed. By the time the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs embarked on a systematic review of the AMA Code in 2008, it had come to encompass 220 separate opinions or ethics guidance for physicians on topics ranging from abortion to xenotransplantation. The AMA Code, over the years, became more fragmented and unwieldy. Opinions on individual topics were difficult to find; lacked a common narrative structure, which meant the underlying value motivating the guidance was not readily apparent; and were not always consistent in the guidance they offered or language they used.
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