Bioethics Blogs

New AMA Code of Medical Ethics

We now have a completely revised and updated AMA Code of Medical Ethics.

In introducing the revision, the AMA notes that the “Code, over the years, became more fragmented and unwieldy. Opinions on individual topics were difficult to find; lacked a common narrative structure . . . .”  Therefore, “in the revision, when 2 or more existing opinions provided substantially similar guidance on closely related topics, key content was consolidated into a single, more comprehensive  opinion.”


For example, 2.035 (Futile Care) and 2.037 (Medical Futility in End-of-Life Care) were combined and revised into 5.5 (Medically Ineffective Interventions.)

I do not see any substantive change in AMA guidance on this issue.  But Wesley Smith rightly notes that even vocabulary choice signals some judgments.  The term “ineffective” sounds objective and scientific.  But the situations anticipated in 5.5 are almost always value-laden.  The AMA might have aligned the vocabulary here to that recommended, last summer, by five other medical societies.     

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.