The AMA has voted to adopt a modernized version of its Code of Medical Ethics, capping an 8-year process to update the guideline for relevance, clarity and consistency, according to a statement from the organization.
The modernized Code of Medical Ethics was approved by physician leaders gathered at the AMA Annual Meeting in Chicago. The original code, the first uniform ethics guideline of its time, was first approved in 1847 during the AMA’s inaugural meeting.
“Contemporary medicine must remain moral medicine during the current rapid pace of change in health care delivery system, and just as it did during its founding, the AMA has responded to this challenge by again putting ethics on center stage,” Steven J. Stack, MD, AMA president, said in a press release. “The comprehensive update to the code’s ethics guidance keeps pace with emerging demands physicians face with new technologies, changing patient expectations and shifting health care priorities.”
According to the AMA, the modernization project, which included “substantial invited feedback,” had three primary goals:
- Improve relevance through language that applies to contemporary medical practice;
- Focus on clarity, by improving structure and formatting to ensure that ethical principles and specific responsibilities are easy to find, read and use; and
- Increase consistency, by consolidating related issues into a single, comprehensive statement.
“The modernization project ensures that the Code of Medical Ethics will remain a useful and effective resource that physicians can continue to rely on, while remaining faithful to the virtues of fidelity, humanity, loyalty, tenderness, confidentiality and integrity enshrined in the original code,” Stack said.