The Hippocratic Oath

The Hippocratic oath represents the highest ideals that physicians should aspire to. It is presented here in its translation by Dr. Louis Lasagna.

Physicians affirm this oath upon graduation from medical school. In fact, the term physician is derived from the Greek word for natural, physikos.

The Hippocratic physician relied on common sense to treat ailments. They listened to their patients and recommended herbs, foods and rest to cure most ailments. They understood the potential for harm despite their own best intentions.

The oath is presented here to demonstrate how far western medicine has strayed from its Traditional, Hippocratic roots. And how much healing has been removed from treatment. Physicians take practice management courses and prescribe drugs. The system is too far gone for them to practice prevention. Those that do are called integrative physicians.

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.

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