Advertisement

The historical context of the American medical association’s 1847 Code of Ethics

  • Robert Baker
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 49)

Abstract

On the morning of May 7th, 1847, the national medical convention — soon to rename itself the American Medical Association - enacted a Code of Ethics. In the brief span of three years the frustration of a few New York physicians had led to the first national medical convention, to the first national medical association, and to the first national code of medical ethics. The object of the New Yorkers’ frustration, however, was neither the lack of a national organization, nor the state of medical morals, it was the state of medical education. Bad education was driving out good: the shorter and cheaper the route to medical qualification, the fewer the demands a college made on a medical student, the more likely it was to be a financial success. Worse yet, piecemeal reform seemed impossible. No single state could reform its system without a parallel reform in the others. Medical students, medical qualifications, and medical practices were all portable; were any single state to raise educational standards within its borders, it would merely create a competitive advantage for colleges beyond its borders. Moreover, once students had earned their qualifications, however poorly educated they might be, they could still practice anywhere. Consequently, were any state to attempt to raise educational standards on its own, it was likely undercut its medical colleges, without significantly raising the qualifications of its physicians. Educational reform would either have to be done by everyone, everywhere, or no one could successfully implement it anywhere.

Keywords

Medical Education American Medical Association Medical Ethic Medical Society National Code 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Bibliography

  1. 1.
    Baker, R.: 1993, “Deciphering Percival’s Code”, in [2], pp. 179–212.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Baker, R., Porter, D., and Porter, R.: 1993, The Codification of Medical Morality: Historical and Philosophical Studies of the Formalization of Western Medical Morality in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: Volume One: Medical Ethics and Etiquette in the Eighteenth Century, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bell, J.: 1847, “Introduction,” Code of Ethics, this volume, pp. 65–72.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Davis, N.: 1903, History of Medicine, with the Code of Medical Ethics, Cleveland Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Flint, A.: 1895, Medical Ethics and Etiquette: The Code of Ethics Adopted by the American Medical Association, with Commentaries, D. Appleton, New York.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gisborne, T: 1794, An Enquiry into the Duties of Men in the Higher and Middle Classes of Society in Great Britain Resulting from their Respective Stations, Professions and Employment, B. and J. White, London.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gregory, J.: 1772, Lectures on the Duties and Offices of a Physician, W. Straham and T. Cadell, London.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hooker, W.: 1849, 1972, Physician and Patient, Arno Press (reprint). New York.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    National Medical Convention: 1846, Minutes of the Proceedings of the National Medical Convention, held in the City of New York, 1846.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Percival, T.: 1803, Medical Ethics: Or, A Code of Institutes and Precepts, Adapted to the Professional Conduct of Physicians and Surgeons, J. Johnson, London.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Stille, A.: 1880, Memoir of Isaac Hays, M.D., Extracted from Transactions of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (3rd Series, Vol. V), Philadelphia.Google Scholar

Bibliography

  1. 1.
    Simon, M.I.: 1845, Deontology Medicate, ou Des Devoirs el Des Droits Des Médecins Dans L’État Actuel De La Civilisation, B. Bailliere, Paris.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Baker
    • 1
  1. 1.the Department of PhilosophyUnion CollegeSchenectady

Personalised recommendations