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Article
December 20, 1965

THOMAS PERCIVAL (1740-1804) CODIFIER OF MEDICAL ETHICS

JAMA. 1965;194(12):1319-1320. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090250053021
Abstract

The Code of Ethics adopted by the American Medical Association in 1847 was attributed officially to Thomas Percival of Manchester, who, in 1803, published his Medical Ethics; or, a Code of Institutes and Precepts, Adapted to the Professional Conduct of Physicians and Surgeons.1 Although the AMA Code was revised several times and the format changed in the following century, the rules of conduct and the ethos of the physician remain those postulated by the English codist.

Percival was born near Warrington, Lancashire. His parents died when he was young, and his early care and educational guidance was assumed by his eldest sister; however, his maturing interests in medicine were directed both by the legacy and library of his father's brother, a practicing physician.2 As a dissenter, Percival was disbarred from Oxford and Cambridge; thus, after training in Warrington, he proceeded to the University of Edinburgh for the study

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