The Hippocratic Oath

This blog is about living our lives more ethically, so I decided to do some research on Codes of Ethics and naturally began with one of the best known, The Hippocratic Oath, the oath historically taken by physicians.

Like most people, I have never actually read it before, but I decided that it may provide me with some inspiration for my next article.

So I looked it up and I read it, and I decided that I would just include it here because, with just a few minor tweaks to a few words here and there, this would be a bloody good code of ethics for everyone to strive to live by.

I hope that you can see it too …

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 which 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, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. 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, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

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, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

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.

Written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, and used in many medical schools today.

I was going to try and adapt the Hippocratic Oath to make it more relevant to our every day lives, but for me it is good enough as it is. It says everything that I need it to say.

It takes just a little imagination but I really do hope that it speaks to you too.

 

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