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HIPPOCRATES AND THE HIPPOCRATIC OATH


 

Hippocrates of Cos (c. 460 BC–380 BC) was an Ancient Greek physician, commonly regarded as one of the most outstanding figures in medicine of all time; he has been called the father of medicine. He was a physician from the so called medical school of Kos. Writings attributed to him (Corpus hippocraticum, or "Hippocratic writings") rejected the superstition and magic of primitive "medicine" and laid the foundations of medicine as a branch of science.

The Hippocratic writings introduced patient confidentiality, which is still in use today. This was under the Hippocratic Oath and other treatises, which meant that people were to record their findings and methods used, to be passed down.

Other Hippocratic writings associated personality traits with the relative abundance of the four humours in the body: phlegm, yellow bile, black bile, and blood, and was a major influence on Galen and later on medieval medicine.

The Hippocratic Corpus is a collection of about sixty treatises, most written between 430 BC and AD 200. They are actually a group of texts written by several different people holding several different viewpoints erroneously grouped under the name of Hippocrates, perhaps at the Library of Alexandria. None of the texts included in the Corpus can be considered to have been written by Hippocrates himself, and one of them at least was written by his son-in-law Polybus. The best known of the Hippocratic writings is the Hippocratic Oath; however, this text was most likely not written by Hippocrates himself. A famous, time-honoured medical rule ascribed to Hippocrates is Primum non nocere ("first, do no harm"); another one is Ars longa, vita brevis ("art is long, and life short").

 
The Hippocratic Oath
(Original Version)

I swear by Apollo the physician and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgement, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation.

To reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others.

I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgement, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion.

With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will not cut persons labouring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further, from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves.

Whatever, in connection with my professional service, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret.

While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times. But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot.

 

The Hippocratic Oath
(Modern Version)

I swear in the presence of the Almighty and before my family, my teachers and my peers that according to my ability and judgment I will keep this Oath and Stipulation.

To reckon all who have taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents and in the same spirit and dedication to impart a knowledge of the art of medicine to others. I will continue with diligence to keep abreast of advances in medicine. I will treat without exception all who seek my ministrations, so long as the treatment of others is not compromised thereby, and I will seek the counsel of particularly skilled physicians where indicated for the benefit of my patient.

I will follow that method of treatment which according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patient and abstain from whatever is harmful or mischievous. I will neither prescribe nor administer a lethal dose of medicine to any patient even if asked nor counsel any such thing nor perform the utmost respect for every human life from fertilization to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life.

With purity, holiness and beneficence I will pass my life and practice my art. Except for the prudent correction of an imminent danger, I will neither treat any patient nor carry out any research on any human being without the valid informed consent of the subject or the appropriate legal protector thereof, understanding that research must have as its purpose the furtherance of the health of that individual. Into whatever patient setting I enter, I will go for the benefit of the sick and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief or corruption and further from the seduction of any patient.

Whatever in connection with my professional practice or not in connection with it I may see or hear in the lives of my patients which ought not be spoken abroad, I will not divulge, reckoning that all such should be kept secret.

While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art and science of medicine with the blessing of the Almighty and respected by my peers and society, but should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse by my lot.