Declaration of professional responsibility
Medicine’s social contract with humanity
Never in the history of human civilization has the well-being of each individual
been so inextricably linked to that of every other. Plagues and pandemics respect
no national borders in a world of global commerce and travel. Wars and acts
of terrorism enlist innocents as combatants and mark civilians as targets. Advances
in medical science and genetics, while promising great good, may also be harnessed
as agents of evil. The unprecedented scope and immediacy of these universal
challenges demand concerted action and response by all.
As physicians, we are bound in our response by a common heritage
of caring for the sick and the suffering. Through the centuries,
individual physicians have fulfilled this obligation by applying
their skills and knowledge competently, selflessly and at times
heroically. Today, our profession must reaffirm its historical commitment
to combat natural and man-made assaults on the health and well-being
of humankind. Only by acting together across geographic and ideological
divides can we overcome such powerful threats. Humanity is our patient.
We, the members of the world community of physicians, solemnly
commit ourselves to:
- Respect human life and the dignity of every individual.
- Refrain from supporting or committing crimes against humanity
and condemn all such acts.
- Treat the sick and injured with competence and compassion and
- Apply our knowledge and skills when needed, though doing so
may put us at risk.
- Protect the privacy and confidentiality of those for whom we
care and breach that confidence only when keeping it would seriously
threaten their health and safety or that of others.
- Work freely with colleagues to discover, develop, and promote
advances in medicine and public health that ameliorate suffering
and contribute to human well-being.
- Educate the public and polity about present and future threats
to the health of humanity.
- Advocate for social, economic, educational, and political changes
that ameliorate suffering and contribute to human well-being.
- Teach and mentor those who follow us for they are the future
of our caring profession.
We make these promises solemnly, freely, and upon our personal
and professional honor.
Adopted by the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association
in San Francisco, Calif., on Dec. 4, 2001 and by the CAP Board of
Governors on May 17, 2002.