Code of Ethics


In addition to the Code of Ethics, which was revised in 1965, the American Osteopathic Association has also is­sued a statement interpreting sections 19, 20, 21, and  22 of the Code.

Section 1. The physician shall keep in confidence whatever he may learn about a patient in the discharge of pro­fessional duties. Information shall be divulged by the physician when required by law or when authorized by the pa­tient.

Section 2. The physician shall give a candid account of the patient's condition to the patient or to those respon­sible for the patient's care.

Section 3. A physician-patient relationship must be founded on mutual trust, cooperation, and respect. The pa­tient, therefore, must have complete freedom to choose his physician. The physician must have complete freedom to choose patients whom he will serve. In emergencies, a physician should make his services available.

Section 4. The physician shall give due notice to the patient or to those responsible for the patient's care when he withdraws from a case so that another physician may be summoned.

Section 5. A physician is never justified in abandoning a patient.

Section 6. A physician shall practice in accordance with the body of systematized knowledge related to the heal­ing arts and shall avoid professional association with individuals or organizations which do not practice or conduct organization affairs in accordance with such knowledge.

Section 7. A physician should join and actively support the recognized local, state, and national bodies repre­senting the osteopathic profession and should abide by the rules and regulations of such bodies.

Section 8. A physician shall not solicit patients, commercialize or advertise his services, or associate profes­sionally with, or aid in any manner, individuals or organizations which indulge in such practices.

Section 9. A physician shall not be identified in any manner with testimonials for proprietary products or de­vices advertised or sold directly to the public.

Section 10. A physician shall not hold forth or indicate possession of any degree recognized as the basis for li­censure to practice the healing art unless he is actually licensed on the basis of that degree in the state in which he practices.

Section 11. A physician shall not seek or acquire any healing arts degree from institutions not approved by the American Osteopathic Association or not approved by a body recognized for the purpose by the American Osteopathic Association.

Section 12. A physician shall designate his osteopathic school of practice in all professional uses of his name. Indications of specialty practice, membership in professional societies, and related matters shall be governed by rules promulgated by the Board of Trustees of the American Osteopathic Association.

Section 13. A physician shall obtain consultation whenever requested to do so by the patient. A physician should not hesitate to seek consultation whenever he himself believes it advisable.

Section 14.  In any dispute between or among physicians involving ethical or organizational matters, the matter in controversy should be referred to the arbitrating bodies of the profession.

Section 15. In any dispute between or among physicians regarding the diagnosis and treatment of a patient, the attending physician has the responsibility for final decisions, consistent with any applicable osteopathic hospital rules or regulations.

Section 16.  A physician shall not comment, directly, or indirectly, on professional services rendered by other physicians except before duly constituted professional bodies of inquiry or in public proceedings judicial in nature.

Section 17. Illegal, unethical, or incompetent conduct of physicians shall be revealed to the proper tribunals.

Section 18.  A physician shall not assume treatment of a patient under the ca:re of another physician except in emergencies and only during the time that the attending physician is not available.

Section 19.  Any fee charged by a physician shall be reasonable and shall compensate the physician for services actually rendered.

Section 20. Division of any professional fees not based on actual services rendered is a violation which will not be tolerated within the membership of this Association.

Section 21. A physician shall not pay or receive compensation for referral of patients.

Section 22. The physician shall cooperate fully in complying with all laws and regulations pertaining to prac­tice of the healing arts and protection of the public health.

Section 23. No code or set of rules can be framed which will particularize all ethical responsibilities of the physician in the various phases of his professional life. The enumeration of obligations in the Code of Ethics is not exhaustive and does not constitute a denial of the existence of other obligations, equally imperative, though not specifically mentioned.