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June 20, 1986

The Handbook of Medical Ethics

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs

JAMA. 1986;255(23):3310. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370230116045

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


The Handbook of Medical Ethics is a compendium of fundamental concepts that have been developed as guidelines to the everyday practice of medicine in the United Kingdom.

The majority of the materials discussed do not necessarily address ethical concepts as we have come to view them in the United States. The statement is made that these basically are guidelines for practice and are not codified in law as in many European countries.

However, many of the issues covered in detail directly relate to legal guidelines, such as the relationship of etiquette to the law. This approach is interesting, because, in England, national standards do apply, especially in the initiation of practice in the National Health Service. In this section, the handbook actually addresses the problems concerning the location of the physician's office, directories, canvasing for patients, professional courtesy, and the "undisclosed sharing of fees."

In addition, sections are included that