Margaret Aranda, MD, PhD in Dr Margaret Aranda: Age, Time, and Notes, beBee in English, Doctors Chief Writer, Mind & Body • Jul 1, 2016 · 1 min read · +900

Is The Hippocratic Oath still "The Hippocratic Oath?"

by Dr Margaret Aranda

You should know that today, no American medical school is required to use the original Hippocratic Oath for the graduating medical doctors.  This is surprises most people. Much like marriage vows, each American medical school class can decide on "which" type/version of Hippocratic Oath used as a sworn oath. So my University of Southern California (USC) graduating class voted to swear to the original version, minus the mention of the gods. 

Around the Fifth Century B.C., the original Hippocratic Oath was written in Greek. Scholars attribute the writing of the Oath to one of Hippocrates' students. Depicted here is a Byzantine writing of the Hippocratic Oath:

Is The Hippocratic Oath still "The Hippocratic Oath?"

                        Image 1. The Hippocratic Oath. This Byzantine version of the Oath was written in the 12th Century.

 THE ORIGINAL HIPPOCRATIC OATH, translated to English:
Hippocrates of COS, The Oath

  • "I swear by Apollo Physician, by Asclepius, by Health, by Panacea and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture. To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture; to impart precept, 1 oral instruction, and all other instruction 2 to my own sons, the sons of my teacher, and to indentured pupils who have taken the physician’s oath, but to nobody else. I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art. I will not use the knife, not even, verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen."

Is it sad for me to tell you graduating medical students, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, can swear to uphold 'variations' of the Hippocratic Oath, such as.... a poem? 

No matter my feelings: it is true.

But the Oath is still a sworn moral and ethical code.

Or it should be, right?


Ira M. Rutkow, M.D. Image of Oath: Foto de la Biblioteca Vaticanascan from: User: Rmrfstar - "Surgery: An Illustrated History;" p 27: ISBN 0801660785., Public Domain (1993).

Hippocrates of Cos (1923). "The Oath". Loeb Classical Library 147: 298–299. doi:10.4159/DLCL.hippocrates_cos-oath.1923. Retrieved 6 October 2015.

Temkin, Owsei. "On Second Thought." "On Second Thought" and Other Essays in the History of Medicine and Science (2001). Johns Hopkins University. ISBN 978-0-8018-6774-3.

Margaret Aranda, MD, PhD Jul 12, 2016 · #16

With all the bad-mouthing that doctors get today (and I can speak to this personally as a physician and a patient), you need to know that there are still good doctors out there. They care. They over-perform. They jump through hoops relentlessly for their patients. In the old day and still in many non-Western countries, these are still the doctors whose patients come to the office bearing gifts. Fruit, garden flowers.

+1 +1
Margaret Aranda, MD, PhD Jul 11, 2016 · #15

#14 @Dale Masters: But there's nothing to actually 'do' hon, just enjoy!

Dale Masters Jul 11, 2016 · #14

#12 @Margaret Aranda, MD, PhD NOoooooo...I have things to do, and I'm exhausted already!

+1 +1
Margaret Aranda, MD, PhD Jul 11, 2016 · #12

#11 And you and I both know it, too. We see it, we are in the thick of it. And it is not a good place to be. So you will like my piece today, "Doctors of Oath." Oh. And I started my own Hive: Doctors of Oath, too. I''m just waaayy too passionate about how I think things should be. And I don't think that I am thinking 'too highly' or expecting too much from real doctors. Actually, the 'real doctors' are already in the choir, singing alto and soprano with their knees unlocked. So they don't need the message. But I do believe that patients need to Know that there Are doctors out there who swore by this oath, and they behold it not to the gods of old, but to God Himself. And so it shall be for me, and nothing and no one can change it. Amen!

+2 +2
Dale Masters Jul 6, 2016 · #11

#10 @Margaret Aranda, MD, PhD When corporatisation of medicine started to take place, that spelled the end of true medicine, which purpose, as you know well, used to be healing. Now everything is subject to the bottom line. I believe strongly that this is the reason that so many doctors are drug addicts and alcoholics...and have such a high suicide rate. I had a dear friend who is a doctor, and I remained friends with her from the time she was a premed student till the time she received her DO. I am no longer included in her circle of friends, and was told by her once that I'm "too eccentric for [my] own good". Over time, I was excluded from her social circle, since we "no longer had anything in common".Since my childhood best friend's father was my doctor I found this behaviour very odd. I was hurt...but not offended. The sea change in medical focus is a very evil thing....and most doctors know it.

+1 +1
Margaret Aranda, MD, PhD Jul 5, 2016 · #10

#8 Doctors used to be 'a' trusted member of the family, I think, @Dale Masters...not 'like' a trusted member... but how/when did that change? Was it 'bad' doctors, or greed? Bad technology that got us into places we never should have been, with fertilized, frozen eggs being literally flushed down the drain? Or the sperm donors that fertilize thousands of women, so that half- 'brothers' and 'sisters' will and must be having babies subject to congenital abnormalities? Oh...the list goes on, and it's a fantastic exercise for all. We must talk about these things. Because patients need to trust the good doctors. They have to...or else there is no hope. My opinion, and I'm sticking to it (you know I like this quote 🌞). ~ Awesome insights here.

+1 +1
Margaret Aranda, MD, PhD Jul 5, 2016 · #9

#7 The problem is, I think, that everyone has a different set of morals. And back in the days of Hippocrates and beyond, people couldn't be kept alive with dead brains on a has brought in a multitude of ethical questions, all balanced by the benefit:risk ratio, too. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? This is a question that every doctor asks herself, every day. It's a huge can of worms, a Pandora's box of mystical, philosophical, humane issues with great passion. Sometimes, we as physicians are not 'able' to do "NO" harm. We just have to pick the "least worst" of a situation, @Pamela L. Williams. Great conversation.

+3 +3
Dale Masters Jul 3, 2016 · #8

#7 " If you can't swear to that then you have no business being a doctor. period" TRUTH! Doctors used to be like a trusted member of the family; now, they're being eaten alive by corporatism.

+2 +2