Hippocratic Oath

The Hippocratic Oath is an oath of ethics historically taken by physicians. It is one of the most widely known of Greek medical texts. In its original form, it requires a new physician to swear, by a number of healing gods, to uphold specific ethical standards. The oath is the earliest expression of medical ethics in the Western world, establishing several principles of medical ethics which remain of paramount significance today. These include the principles of medical confidentiality and non-maleficence. The original oath was written between the fifth and third centuries BC, is traditionally attributed to the Greek doctor Hippocrates, while modern scholars do not regard it as having been written by Hippocrates himself.

The Greek physician Hippocrates (460–370 BC), to whom the oath is traditionally attributed
I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

QuotesEdit

Hippocratic Oath: Classical VersionEdit

  • I swear by... all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath...:
  • To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him...
  • To regard his offspring as equal to my brothers.. and to teach them this art — if they desire to learn it — without fee and covenant...
  • I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.
  • I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.
  • I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.
  • Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.
  • What I may see or hear...in regard to the life of men...I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.
  • If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men...
  • if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.
    • The Hippocratic Oath: Text, Translation, and Interpretation, by Ludwig Edelstein (translation from the Greek). (1943)

Hippocratic Oath, Modern VersionEdit

  • I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
  • I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
  • I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
  • I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.
  • I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.
  • I will respect the privacy of my patients
  • If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
  • I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being...
  • I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
  • I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings...
  • If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

Quotes aboutEdit

  • In Germany during the Third Reich, medical students did not take the Hippocratic Oath, although they knew the ethic of "nil nocere" — do no harm.
    • Naomi Baumslag, Murderous Medicine: Nazi Doctors, Human Experimentation, and Typhus. Praeger Publishers. pp. xxv. ISBN 9780275983123. (2005)
  • The execution technique itself-which had been developed to simulate a medical procedure and was thought to be humane - came to be considered inhumane unless carried out by medical professionals, because of the risk that the inmate would suffer torture, in violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against the infliction of "cruel and unusual punishment. ' As Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen commented, "if the Vanderbilt anesthesiology department would come over and perform executions for us, there wouldn't be any issues.' On the other hand, medical professionals are ethically forbidden from participating in lethal injection because their participation risks irreparable harm not only to physician-patient relationships but to the medical profession and even society as a whole.' Thus, execution by lethal injection has created a "Hippocratic paradox" where it is unethical for physicians not to participate in lethal injection, but also unethical for physicians to participate.
  • The medical profession has a long history of obligations not only to individual patients but to society as well. If physicians are truly dedicated to helping society's most vulnerable individuals, the time to show mercy is not in the death chamber. Rather, they should demonstrate compassion by helping to improve the deplorable medical care that exists in many prisons or the socioeconomic conditions that predispose people to end up in prison in the first place. Nevertheless, even though every prominent medical professional organization forbids participation in lethal injection, physicians make appearances in the death chamber for the vast majority of executions... The machinery of death requires medical professionals, yet the integrity of the profession depends on physicians making the choice to refuse participation. The legal system cannot resolve the Hippocratic paradox. Thus, in order to preserve its professional ethics, and its position as a morally protective force in society, the medical profession must work to abolish capital punishment. 214.
  • During the post World War II and immediately after its foundation, the WMA showed concern over the state of medical ethics in general and over the world. The WMA took up the responsibility for setting ethical guidelines for the world's physicians. It noted that in those years the custom of medical schools to administer an oath to its doctors upon graduation or receiving a license to practice medicine had fallen into disuse or become a mere formality.
  • In Germany during the Third Reich, medical students did not take the Hippocratic Oath, although they knew the ethic of "nil nocere" — do no harm.
    • Naomi Baumslag, Murderous Medicine: Nazi Doctors, Human Experimentation, and Typhus. Praeger Publishers. pp. xxv. ISBN 9780275983123. (2005)

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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