Physician Ethics Manual Updated

In January 2019, the American College of Physicians (ACP) published an updated ethics manual in Annals of Internal Medicine. The manual discusses emerging issues in medical ethics and revisits older issues to see how existing principles fit in with emerging concerns.  

Currently, the understanding of medical ethics is based on the duty to protect and foster a patient’s free choice. Additionally, principles such as beneficence—the physician’s duty to promote good and act in the best interest of the patient, and nonmaleficence—the duty to do no harm, ground medical ethics.  

The manual provides guidance on several issues such as initiating and discontinuing the patient-physician relationship in the context of telemedicine, informed decision making and consent, decisions about reproduction, precision medicine, genetic testing, privacy and confidentiality, and medical risks to physicians and patients. The manual also discusses the patient-physician relationship in the context of health care system catastrophes and in terms of complementary and integrative care use.  

This updated manual reflects how ethics can be adapted to the experiences of today’s contemporary society.

For international medical graduates coming to the U.S., it is important to be familiar with the underlying ethics informing the U.S. clinical system.  Read more here.


“American College of Physicians Releases 7th Edition of Ethics Manual.” Rheumatology Advisor, 19 Feb. 2019,