The American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation (ABIMF) is not the largest,most heavily endowed nor the best known of the many non-profit organizations who function as advocates for various aspects of health care and medical practice. However, its success in promulgating concepts and influencing medical practice and health care seems disproportionately greater than one might expect based on its size. ABIMF's "greatest" achievement may be the development and promulgation of the notion of Medical Professionalism and its major tenets: patient welfare,patient autonomy and social justice. The insertion of the later tenet into medical ethics is a major departure from traditional ethics and is destructive to the physician patient relationship
The first two tenets were long standing pillars of medical ethics and practice and dealt with the relationship between the physician and patient but in 1992, their efforts along with the ACP Foundation and a European Group proclaimed that part of medical professionalism included what they believed was the proper relationship between the physician and society
This manifesto was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 1992 in a paper entitled Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium-A Physician Charter.
The ABIF has continued after the 1992 paper to promote the primacy of patient welfare,patient autonomy and social justice and to advocate for "a just and cost effective distribution of finite resources".
The notion of a co-duty,one to the patient and one to society,was not previously a part of western medical ethics.The 1991 edition of the AMA ethical code did not mention social justice or stewardship of society's resources.
Cost effective care is the major thrust of the foundation's recent initiative called "choosing wisely" . By 2012 over 100 other medical professional organizations had signed on to the Charter and education along those lines apparently is taking place in a number of medical school according to a 2012 article in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
It is the ABIM's MOC ( Maintenance of Certification program ) that has caused the most angst for internists and reliable reports of its very questionable financial activities have triggered an unprecedented uprising which surprisingly has had more than a little success.( Much credit for this is due to Dr. Wesby Fisher who on his blog has reported activities of the ABIM and the ABIMF that are egregious and arguably illegal.)
Yet the sea change in the discussion about medical ethics and professional behavior importantly driven by the same folks who gave us MOC may in the long run be even more damaging.