Best Career Tips: Career related services and advices

  • Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

40. The latest amendment to the Hippocratic Oath (30.07.2015.)

A must read for all the Doctors, Health Professionals and Members of Public to reduce the mis-understandings and undue expectations of the Members of Public from the Doctors.

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The original Hippocratic Oath was modified to the modern version in the year 1964, few thousand years after Hippocrates generated it, as the practice of Medicine did not change much during that period . It has recently been modified to the latest version “The Hypocritic oath” in accordance with the substantial advancements in Medical practice over last 50 years. “The Hippocratic Oath is an oath 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. Of historic and traditional value, the oath is considered a rite of passage for practitioners of medicine in many countries, although nowadays various modernized versions are often used. Hippocrates is often called the father of medicine in Western culture. The original oath was written in Ionic Greek, in the late Fifth Century BCE. It is usually included in the Hippocratic Corpus. Scholars widely believe that Hippocrates or one of his students wrote the oath. Alternately, classical scholar Ludwig Edelstein proposed that the oath was written by Pythagoreans, an idea that others questioned for lack of evidence for a school of Pythagorean medicine.

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A fragment of the Oath on the 3rd-century Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2547.

This is the original version of the Hippocratic Oath:

I swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius the surgeon, likewise Hygeiaand Panacea, and call all the gods and goddesses to witness, that I will observe and keep this underwritten oath, to the utmost of my power and judgment. I will reverence my master who taught me the art. Equally with my parents, will I allow him things necessary for his support, and will consider his sons as brothers. I will teach them my art without reward or agreement; and I will impart all my acquirement, instructions, and whatever I know, to my master’s children, as to my own; and likewise to all my pupils, who shall bind and tie themselves by a professional oath, but to none else. With regard to healing the sick, I will devise and order for them the best diet, according to my judgment and means; and I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage. Nor shall any man’s entreaty prevail upon me to administer poison to anyone; neither will I counsel any man to do so. Moreover, I will give no sort of medicine to any pregnant woman, with a view to destroy the child. Further, I will comport myself and use my knowledge in a godly manner. I will not cut for the stone, but will commit that affair entirely to the surgeons. Whatsoever house I may enter, my visit shall be for the convenience and advantage of the patient; and I will willingly refrain from doing any injury or wrong from falsehood, and (in an especial manner) from acts of an amorous nature, whatever may be the rank of those who it may be my duty to cure, whether mistress or servant, bond or free. Whatever, in the course of my practice, I may see or hear (even when not invited), whatever I may happen to obtain knowledge of, if it be not proper to repeat it, I will keep sacred and secret within my own breast. If I faithfully observe this oath, may I thrive and prosper in my fortune and profession, and live in the estimation of posterity; or on breach thereof, may the reverse be my fate!

Modern Version

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. 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, 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.” It might be a coincidence that the Hippocratic Oath was modified to the modern version in the year 1964, the year that, as a person, has the greatest impact on me. I do not remember taking the oath when I qualified as a medical graduate and has never read it until recently. Despite not taking the oath or not knowing what it contained, I, like the majority of the Doctors, followed the essence of the oath for most of my professional life. After reading the oath I feel compelled to modify it in line with the present day Medical practice as perceived by the society. I do not feel it can be called the Hippocratic Oath anymore. “The Hypocritic Oath” would appear more appropriate. The modifications are in bold and italics.

The Hypocritic Oath (30.07.2015.)

“I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant: I will respect the hard-won financial gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge (how to gain financially) as is mine but not with those who are to follow. I will apply, for the benefit of myself, all measures which are required, including those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism. I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as money-making, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may not outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug. I will not be ashamed to say “I know everything,” nor will I call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery. I will not respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are disclosed to me that the world may know (for business interest). Most especially must I trade with care in matters of life and death. 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 arrogance and awareness of my own great ability. Above all, I must 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 my family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care gainfully for the sick. I will prevent disease whenever I can, if prevention is more profitable 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, disrespected while I live and remembered without affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of exploiting those who seek my help.” (Dr Sudipta Paul, 30.07.2015.) Nowadays, that is the way the society might perceive Doctors. I feel it is a mere reflection of the changes in the society, the Doctors are just a part of it. The “day trading” culture that has become so prevalent in the society that it has been affecting all professions. A day trader in shares ‘buys’ or ‘sells’ shares on margins with the intention of making profits (loses as well). In fact, he or she does neither take delivery of the shares nor invest any money. The aim is to make profit from a virtual activity that might generate profit. The culture of making profits from any activity, whether it is beneficial for the society or not, has become more prevalent. This is being reflected in the Medical profession like all other professions. A good example is film-making. A producer in the Bollywood does not worry to spend Rs 1 billion to make a film because if it generates an income of Rs 2 billions that would create a profit of Rs 1 billion (100% profit). He or she is not bothered whether the film has any positive impact on the society. Unfortunately, the film stars are considered ‘celebrities’ not the people in other professions such as the manual Labourers, auto/bus/train Drivers, Clerks, Teachers, Polices, Soldiers, Engineers, Nurses or Doctors who positively contribute to the society. Reference

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