In the year before he died on this date in 1804, British physician and ethicist Thomas Percival wrote "Medical Ethics," a book about professional conduct in the medical profession. Initially, Percival wrote the tome to settle a disagreement at the Manchester (England) Infirmary among three groups of medical specialists: surgeons, physicians and apothecaries. But his book took on much greater significance, becoming the basis for the American Medical Association's first published code of ethics in 1846. Percival urged physicians to "unite tenderness with steadiness" when they took care of their patients, and also to keep patients medical information confidential. He also studied smallpox and lead poisoning, and was the first doctor to prescribe cod liver oil, in 1782.
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