AAEM Ethics Committee Position Statement

Chair: Al Giwa, MD MBA MBE FAAEM
Vice Chair: Jennifer Gemmill, MD FAAEM

Position Statement Subgroup:
Alfredo Urdaneta, MD FAAEM (Lead)
Dan Mayer, MD FAAEM
Matthew Turney, MD FAAEM

AAEM Ethics Committee Position Statement

As professionals, physicians must aspire to live a morally upstanding life, both in our professional and personal spaces. Physicians must commit to serve the public given our unique and specialized education, knowledge, and technical skills.  We are a profession that must be dedicated to the care of our patients, as well as scientific investigation and research. 

Society has empowered us to self-regulate, enforce rules of conduct onto our members, and hold ourselves and our members to the highest standards of our profession.  To this end, we must pledge ourselves to the principles of beneficence, nonmaleficence, justice, respect for autonomy, and confidentiality. It includes a fiduciary responsibility to hold our patients’ interests above one’s own interests. Congruent with these principles are five virtues: trustworthiness, integrity, discernment, compassion, and conscientiousness, that are vital to our medical professionalism and our moral duties.  As physicians, we must stand above divisive politics, look beyond race, color, ethnicity, creed, sexual orientation, national origin, social status or other demographic features and provide the best care possible with a patient centered focus. 

Although medicine is a multidisciplinary endeavor, physicians are often looked to for leadership and guidance for clinical decisions.  Leadership is not automatic or assumed, but instead must be earned and maintained through one’s commitment to ethical and professional principles.  Successful leadership requires one to promote these values in their own organizations and multidisciplinary teams. At no time should we forgo our ethical and professional principles in our role as leaders, and when the organization’s values and principles are not upheld, we have a duty to speak out and correct the behavior or action. 

As experts in emergency medicine, we often provide insight and recommendations to governmental and non-governmental organizations.  In these roles, we should speak and act independent of any personal or political bias, and be aware of the power and influence our statements or actions may have on a lay public.  We should endeavor to utilize scientific evidence and our ethical and professional values to guide our recommendations for clinical care.  We must avoid any perception of reckless abuse of power in suggesting unscientific information or theories that are born out of a self-serving interest, and correct any member of our profession that clearly engages in such egregious behaviors.   This should not be confused with those who seek to challenge the status quo and advocate alternative solutions all the while continuing scientific investigation and research.  Scientific data should lead discussions and speak independent of personal, political, or financial interests.   

This position statement, from the newly created Ethics Committee (EC) of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM), is not meant to be the final word on professionalism or ethical behaviors, but to lay the foundation and be a guide for what the Ethical Physician should aspire to be as members of AAEM, Emergency Medicine, and Medicine as a whole.

Approved: 11/12/2020