(c450 BC), AUTHOR OF THE HIPPOCRATIC OATH, HAS HAD A LASTING IMPACT ON MEDICINE AND
MEDICAL ETHICS EVEN TODAY.
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If I were to tell you that the
Hippocratic Oath of such renown is a difficult item to find, even on the internet, you
might think that our researchers are not doing a really good job. Well..... that is
exactly what I am telling you! There are at least three operative versions in play, each
accepted in some places to the exclusion of the others.
This anecdote does not have a lot to do with
Blood, but it points up the fact that where medicine, money and politics are concerned, we
must take nothing for granted.
While it is considered as common knowledge
among both doctors and the lay public that doctors take an oath stating "Never do
Harm," the fact is that not all medical schools require their graduating doctors
to take an Hippocratic Oath. Surprisingly, the use of this fabled Oath by the medical
community changes from medical college to medical college with emotions of the day, and
The oath is administered during the
graduation ceremonies of virtually every modern medical schools. In the United States, if
a physician is found to have purposely ignored the rules set forth in the Oath, he or she
may well (not always) loose their license to practice medicine in that state. This is said
to be a way of ensuring the care and concern shown by Hippocrates will continue to be
shown in the future.
As you will see following, the
"Hippocratic standard" is a floating one!
Following here are some items resulting from
a study by Robert Ro, M.D. and Norman Pang, M.D., in which 157 deans of schools of
medicine in Canada and the United States were surveyed regarding the use of the
||In 1928, only 26%
of schools administered some form of the Oath.
||In 1993, 98% of
schools administered some form of the Oath.
||Only one medical
school used the original Hippocratic Oath.
||68 schools used
versions of the original Hippocratic Oath.
||100% of current
Oaths pledge a commitment to patients.
||Only 43% vow to be
accountable for their actions.
||14% include a
prohibition against euthanasia.
||11% invoke a
||Only 3% prohibit
sexual contact with patients!
|NOTE: "The Use of the Hippocratic Oath: A
Review of 20th Century Practice and a Content Analysis of Oaths Administered in Medical
Schools in the United States and Canada in 1993." by Robert D. Orr, M.D. and Norman
Keeping the foregoing firmly
in our minds, following here is "a version" of the Hippocratic Oath,
semi-literally translated from the original Greek. This will leave the general impression
desired by the famed Hippocrates. Some of the words that are
"fuzzy" in an English translation are parenthetically noted in the original
I swear by Apollo the healer (iatros),
by ∆sculapius, by Health and all the powers of healing, and call to witness all the gods
and goddesses that I may keep this Oath and Promise to the best of my ability and judgment
(krisis), this oath and this legal agreement (syngraphe.)
I will pay the same respect to my master in the science (techne) as to my parents
and share my life with him and pay all my debts to him. I will regard his sons as my
brothers and teach them the science, if they desire to learn it, without fee or contract.
I will hand on precepts, lectures, and all other learning to my sons, to those of my
master and to those pupils duly apprenticed and sworn (nomos) , and to none other.
I will use my power (diatema) to help the sick to the best of my ability and
judgment (krisis); I will abstain from harming or wrongdoing any man by it.
I will not give a fatal draught (pharmacon), to anyone if I am asked, nor will I
suggest any such thing. Neither will I give a woman means to procure an abortion.
I will be chaste and religious in my life and in my practice. I will not cut stones (lithantes),
even for the stone, but I will leave such procedures to the practitioners of that craft.
Whenever I go into a house, I will go to help the sick and never with the intention of
doing harm or injury. I will not abuse my position to indulge in sexual contacts with the
bodies of women or of men, whether they be freemen or slaves.
Whatever I see or hear, professionally or privately, which ought not to be divulged, I
will keep secret and tell no one.
If, therefore, I observe this Oath and do not violate it, may I prosper both in my life
and in my profession, earning good repute among all men for all time. If I transgress and
forswear this Oath, may my lot be otherwise
Thank you for
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