World Medical Association


Adopted by the Third General Assembly of the World Medical Association at London in October 1949, the International Code of Medical Ethics states the most general principles of ethical medical practice. It was modeled after the Declaration of Geneva and the codes of ethics of most modern countries. But unlike most national codes, the International Code omits reference to specific unethical practices as well as to judiciary procedures. The original draft included a statement on therapeutic abortion (in italics below), which, because of its controversial nature, was deleted from the adopted version of the International Code of Medical Ethics (World Medical Association Bulletin, vol. I,no.3,0ctober l949,pp.109,111).

Duties of Doctors in General

A doctor must always maintain the highest standards of professional conduct.

A doctor must practice his profession uninfluenced by motives of profit.

The following practices are deemed unethical:

a.     Any self advertisement except such as is expressly authorized by the national code of medical ethics. 

b.     Collaborate in any form of medical service in which the doctor does not have professional independence. 

c.     Receiving any money in connection with services rendered to a patient other than a proper professional fee, even with the knowledge of the patient.

Any act, or advice which could weaken physical or mental resistance of a human being may be used only in his interest.

A doctor is advised to use great caution in divulging discoveries or new techniques of treatment.

A doctor should certify or testify only to that which he has personally verified.

Duties of Doctors to the Sick

A doctor must always bear in mind the obligation of preserving human life from conception. Therapeutic abor­tion may only be performed if the conscience of the doctors and the national laws permit.

A doctor owes to his patient complete loyalty and all the resources of his science. Whenever an examination or treatment is beyond his capacity he should summon another doctor who has the necessary ability.

A doctor shall preserve absolute secrecy on all he knows about his patient because of the confidence entrusted in him.

A doctor must give emergency care as a humanitarian duty unless he is assured that others are willing and able to give such care.

Duties of Doctors to Each Other

A doctor ought to behave to his colleagues as he would have them behave to him.

A doctor must not entice patients from his colleagues.

A doctor must observe the principles of "The Declaration of Geneva" approved by The World Medical Association.

[Reprinted with the permission of the World Medical Journal.]