Principles of Ethics for Emergency Medicine

(Based on the American College of Emergency Medicine)

The basic professional obligation of beneficent service to humanity is expressed in various physicians’ oaths. In addition to this general obligation, emergency physicians assume more specific ethical obligations that arise out of the special features of emergency medical practice. The principles listed below express fundamental moral responsibilities of emergency physicians.

Emergency Physicians shall:

  • Embrace patient welfare as their primary professional responsibility.
  • Respond promptly and expertly without prejudice to the need for emergency medical care.
  • Respect the rights and strive to protect the best interests of the patient.
  • Communicate truthfully with patients and secure informed consent for treatment unless the urgency of the patient’s condition demands an immediate response.
  • Respect patient privacy and disclose private information only with the consent of the patient or when required by an overriding duty such as to protect others or to obey the law.
  • Deal fairly with colleagues and take appropriate action to protect patients from health care workers who are impaired, incompetent, or who engage in fraud or deception.
  • Work cooperatively with others who care for and about emergency patients.
  • Engage in continuing study to maintain the knowledge and skills necessary to provide high-quality care for emergency patients.
  • Act as responsible stewards of the health care resources entrusted to them.

Support societal efforts to improve public health and safety, reduce the effects of injury and illness and secure access to Emergency and other basic health care for all.