Code of Ethics


Adopted by the American Chiropractic Association in 1966 and revised in 1973, the Code of Ethics rests on two fundamental principles: (l) that the chiropractor should strive for the greatest good for the patient, and (2) that the chiropractor should be guided by the Golden Rule in his dealings with other chiropractors and with patients. The Code, portions of which are excerpted below, bears a strong resemblance to the American Medical Association Code of Medical Ethics of 1847 in the wording and ordering of its articles and subsections. In addition, the present American Chiropractic Association Code preserves the opinion expressed in the 1847 American Medical Association Code that "medical ethics, as a branch of general ethics, mu.st rest on the basis of religion and morality."

A Statement of Purpose

We believe that the chiropractic profession of America should occupy that place in its own and the public es­teem to which it is entitled and that the chiropractor should be a leader in his community-in character, in learning, in dignified bearing, and in courteous relations with his professional colleagues. We believe that these things can be ac­complished only by organized efforts and do hereby resolve ourselves into an organized association dedicated and pledged to the following objectives:

1.     To maintain the science and art of chiropractic as a separate and distinct health profession dedicated to the service of mankind.

2.     To maintain unimpaired the chiropractic principle and practice based on the premise that the relationship be­tween structure and function in the human body is a significant health factor.

3.     To protect, promote, and promulgate the advancement of the philosophy, science and art of chiropractic and the professional welfare of members of this association in every legitimate and ethical way. This to the end that people in every locality shall have knowledge of the health benefits of chiropractic and the unhampered right and opportunity of obtaining the qualified service of doctors of chiropractic of unquestionable standing and ability.

Since they serve humanity in the specialized "science and art which utilizes the inherent recuperative powers of the body and the relationship between the musculoskeletal structures and functions of the body, particularly of the spinal column and the nervous system in the restoration and maintenance of health," doctors of chiropractic have a unique health service to offer not available from any other source.

Members are authorized to do all things necessary and proper and to exercise such power and authority as are consistent with the general purposes of the organization, in the best interests of the profession and the public health and welfare under the Code of Ethics and the Bylaws and the ACA Master Plan.

Code of Ethics

The scope of a Code of Chiropractic Ethics comprises duties and obligations of chiropractors and patients, the duties and obligations of chiropractors to each other, and the reciprocal obligations of chiropractors and the public.

Fundamental Principles

The transcendent principles upon which chiropractic ethics are based are these:

1. The ultimate end and object of the chiropractor's effort should be: "The greatest good for the patient."

2. The rules of conduct of chiropractor and patient, and of chiropractors toward each other, should be but facets of the Golden Rule: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."

It naturally follows that the various articles of this Code are but special applications of these great principles.


Article I. Duties of the Chiropractor to the Patient

Section 1. The chiropractic profession has for its objective the greatest service it can render humanity. Therefore, financial gain becomes a secondary consideration .

Section 2. The chiropractor should hold himself in constant readiness to respond to calls of the sick. He should bear in mind the great responsibility his vocation involves and should so conduct himself as to acquire the confidence and respect of his patients. The chiropractor is bound to keep secret whatever he may hear or observe respecting the private affairs of his patient and the family, while in the discharge of his professional duties. Should it be evident, however, that such secrecy would result in harm to others, it becomes his duty to protect the innocent party or par­ties. Occasions may arise, however, when he may be compelled by law to reveal some such confidences in the inter­ests of the commonwealth.

Section 3. The chiropractor should attend his patient as often as is necessary to insure continued favorable progress, but should avoid unnecessary visits lest he expose himself to being accused of mercenary motives.

Section 4. A chiropractor should not express gloomy forebodings regarding a patient's condition nor magnify the gravity of the case. He should endeavor to be cheerful and hopeful in mind and manner, thus inspiring confidence and courage in the patient. However, it is the chiropractor's duty to acquaint some judicious friend or relative of the pa­tient with the true facts, should the case prove to be of a serious nature.

Section 5. While the chiropractor has the right to select his cases, once having accepted one he should not aban­don it because it seems incurable or for any other reason, unless he gives the patient or the patient's friends or rela­tives sufficient notice of withdrawal to permit them to secure other attendance.

Section 6. Since a patient has the right to dismiss a chiropractor for reasons satisfactory to himself, so likewise the chiropractor may decline to attend patients when self respect or dignity seem to him to require this step; as, for example, when a patient persistently refuses to follow directions.

Section 7. In difficult or protracted cases consultations are advisable, and the chiropractor should be ready to act upon any desire the patient may express for a consultation, even though he may not himself feel the need for it. Nothing is so likely to retain the patient's confidence as sincerity in this respect.

Section 8. The intimate relation into which the chiropractor is brought with his patient gives him the opportu­nity to exercise a powerful moral influence, which should always be used in the best possible manner. The chiroprac­tor may sometimes be asked to assist in practices of questionable propriety. Among these may be mentioned the pre­tense of disease in order to avoid jury or military duty; the concealment of organic disease in order to secure favorable life insurance; or the procurement of abortion when not necessary to save the life of the mother. To all such proposi­tions the chiropractor should present an inflexible opposition.

Article II. Duties of Patients to Their Chiropractors

Section 1. Since chiropractors are required by the nature of their profession to sacrifice comfort, ease, and even their health for the welfare of their patients, it forthwith becomes the duty of patients to understand this and to realize that they have certain obligations toward their chiropractors.

Section 2. The patient should select a chiropractor in whose knowledge, skill, and integrity he can place confi­dence. A chiropractor once having been selected should not be dismissed for light reasons, because the chiropractor who is acquainted with the conditions, tendencies, and temperaments of a family, can more successfully handle their cases.

Section 3. The patient should consult his chiropractor as early as possible after signs of illness. He should unre­servedly state any factors he may have in mind that might contribute to his condition, with the realization that all such statements are of a confidential nature.

Section 4. The patient should obey his chiropractor's directions as regards frequency of adjustments, diet, sanita­tion, and other hygienic measures that may be indicated in his case. Nor should he permit himself to deviate from the outlined course through any advice from outsiders without first consulting his chiropractor .

Section 5. If the patient desires a consultation, he should make a frank statement to that effect. On the other hand, if he wishes to dismiss his chiropractor he should, in justice and common courtesy, state his reasons in a friendly manner. Such a course need not of necessity change the social relations of the parties.


Article I. Duties to the Profession

Section 1. Inasmuch as the chiropractor has of his own free will and accord chosen chiropractic as his vocation, he must be willing to assume certain obligations. Since he is about to profit from the scientific labor of his prede­cessors and associates, it becomes his duty to enrich the scientific lore, to elevate the position of the profession; and always to conduct himself as a gentleman of pure character and high moral standards.

Section 2. The honor and dignity of the chiropractic profession may best be upheld, it:s sphere of influence ex­panded, and its science advanced through the association of all chiropractors in state and national organizations. Hence it is the duty of each chiropractor to associate himself with such bodies.

[Reprinted with the permission of the American Chiropractic Association.]