One Code for All Seasons and Disciplines May Not Suit All Countries

Meeting and related activities to develop a system-wide code of ethics for health care

From 1998 to 2000, staff at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement prepared a statement of ethical principles for health-care workers. The statement bridges disciplinary boundaries and provides a point of reference for all parties — doctors, nurses, other caregivers, managers and payers.

Key Results

The 16-member Tavistock Group — an international group representing health care providers, insurance companies, consumers and others — prepared the "Shared Statement of Ethical Principles for the Health Care System." Six principles form the foundation of the statement:

  1. Health care is a human right.
  2. The care of the individual is at the center of health care, but the whole system needs to work to improve the health of populations.
  3. The health-care system must treat illness, alleviate suffering and disability, and promote health.
  4. Cooperation with each other, those served, and those in other sectors is essential for all who work in health care.
  5. All who provide health care must work to improve it.
  6. Do no harm.


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this project through a grant of $50,000.

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