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:
Image 1. The Hippocratic Oath. This Byzantine version of the Oath was written in the 12th Century.
THE ORIGINAL HIPPOCRATIC OATH, translated to English:
- "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?
References: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). https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1446714