Code of Medical Ethics: Current Opinions With Annotations

Arthur L. Caplan, PhD
JAMA. 1995;273(15):1232. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520390094042.
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It is time to give some credit where credit has for some time been wanting. For many, many years the last place anyone with a serious interest in the ethics of health care would be tempted to look for weighty moral analysis was the Code of Medical Ethics of the American Medical Association. Nothing in the Code made it into standard anthologies of bioethics. Almost no scholarly journals, including this one, would even bother to review the document.

Up until 1955 the AMA Code had far more to do with matters of etiquette and professional comportment than with substantive matters of morality. It was not until 1980 that the Judicial Council of the AMA, today the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, issued a revision of the AMA Principles of Medical Ethics that went beyond the norms that ought to be followed by physicians in private practice into the much


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