American Society of Anesthesiologists
Approved by House of Delegates on Oct. 3, 1967; last amended on Oct. 18, 2000
Membership in the American Society of Anesthesiologists is a privilege of physicians who are dedicated to the ethical provision of health care. The Society recognizes the Principles of Medical Ethics of the American Medical Association (AMA) as the basic guide to the ethical conduct of its members.
AMA Principles of Medical Ethics
The medical profession has long subscribed to a body of ethical statements developed primarily for the benefit of the patient. As a member of this profession, a physician must recognize responsibility not only to patients but also to society, to other health professionals and to self. The following Principles adopted by the American Medical Association are not laws but standards of conduct which define the essentials of honorable behavior for the physician.
I. A physician shall be dedicated to providing competent medical service with compassion and respect for human dignity.
II. A physician shall deal honestly with patients and colleagues and strive to expose those physicians deficient in character or competence, or who engage in fraud or deception.
III. A physician shall respect the law and also recognize a responsibility to seek changes in those requirements which are contrary to the best interests of the patient.
IV. A physician shall respect the rights of patients, of colleagues and of other health professionals and shall safeguard patient confidence within the constraints of the law.
V. A physician shall continue to study, apply and advance scientific knowledge, make relevant information available to patients, colleagues and the public, obtain consultation, and use the talents of other health professionals when indicated.
VI. A physician shall, in the provision of appropriate patient care except in emergencies, be free to choose whom to serve, with whom to associate and the environment in which to provide medical services.
VII. A physician shall recognize a responsibility to participate in activities contributing to an improved community.
The practice of anesthesiology involves special problems relating to the quality and standards of patient care. Therefore, the Society requires its members to adhere to the AMA Principles of Medical Ethics and any other specific ethical guidelines adopted by this Society.
Medical Direction is anesthesia direction, management or instruction provided by an anesthesiologist whose responsibilities include:
Preanesthetic evaluation of the patient.
Prescription of the anesthesia plan.
Personal participation in the most demanding procedures in this plan, especially those of induction and emergence.
Following the course of anesthesia administration at frequent intervals.
Remaining physically available for the immediate diagnosis and treatment of emergencies.
Providing indicated postanesthesia care.
An anesthesiologist engaged in medical direction should not personally be administering another anesthetic and should use sound judgment in initiating other concurrent anesthetic and emergency procedures.
ASA Ethical Guidelines
There may be specific circumstances when elements of the following guidelines may not apply and wherein individualized decisions may be appropriate.
I. Anesthesiologists have ethical responsibilities to their patients.
1. The patient-physician relationship involves special obligations for the physician that include placing the patient’s interests foremost, faithfully caring for the patient and being truthful.
2. Anesthesiologists respect the right of every patient to self-determination. Anesthesiologists should include patients, including minors, in medical decision-making that is appropriate to their developmental capacity and the medical issues involved.
3. Anesthetized patients are particularly vulnerable, and anesthesiologists should strive to care for each patient’s physical and psychological safety, comfort and dignity. Anesthesiologists should monitor themselves and their colleagues to protect the anesthetized patient from any disrespectful or abusive behavior.
4. Anesthesiologists should keep confidential patients’ medical and personal information.
5. Anesthesiologists should provide preoperative evaluation and care and should facilitate the process of informed decision-making, especially regarding the choice of anesthetic technique.
6. If responsibility for a patient’s care is to be shared with other physicians or nonphysician anesthesia providers, this arrangement should be explained to the patient. When directing non-physician anesthesia providers, anesthesiologists should provide or ensure the same level of preoperative evaluation, care and counseling as when personally providing these same aspects of anesthesia care.
7. When directing nonphysician anesthesi