At AAPLOG we pride ourselves on being Hippocratic Physicians.  But what exactly do we mean by that?  What is this Hippocratic Oath that we hold so near and dear?  Let’s take a look at a comparison between three different versions of the oath: the original translation, an updated modern translation, and a modified translation. Original Translation Updated Modern Translation[i] Modified Translation[ii]

Preamble

I swear by Apollo the physician, and Asclepius, and Hygieia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses as my witnesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this contract: I solemnly swear in the presence of the Almighty to keep inviolable according to my ability and judgment the following Oath and stipulation: I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

Respect for teachers and knowledge

To hold him who taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to be a partner in life with him, and to fulfill his needs when required; to look upon his offspring as equals to my own siblings, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or contract; and that by the set rules, lectures, 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 students bound by this contract and having sworn this Oath to the law of medicine, but to no others. I will hold in utmost respect those who taught me this art and in that same spirit and dedication will impart a knowledge of the art to others when engaged as a mentor. I will continue with diligence to maintain my knowledge and skills, including new advances in medicine that pertain to the practice of my art.

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.

Concerning treatment of patients

I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment, and I will do no harm or injustice to them. I will treat for the good of my patients according to my ability and judgment and never intentionally cause them harm. I will not treat beyond the scope of my abilities but seek the counsel of specially skilled physicians whenever indicated for the benefit of my patients.

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.

Concerning matters of life and death

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion. I will uphold the sanctity and dignity of human life at all times. Accordingly, I will take no part in abortion if I am asked, nor will I prescribe nor administer a lethal dose of any drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such actions, nor by performance or omission will I intentionally end any human life.

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.

Purity of practice

In purity and according to divine law will I carry out my life and my art. I will preserve the purity of the practice of my art.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

Treatment beyond the physician’s skills and avoiding corrupt behavior

I will not use the knife, even upon those suffering from stones, but I will leave this to those who are trained in this craft. Into whatever homes I go, I will enter them for the benefit of the sick, avoiding any voluntary act of impropriety or corruption, including the seduction of women or men, whether they are free men or slaves. 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 enter every contact with my patients only for their good, keeping myself from all intentional wrongdoing and all sexual involvement with any patients.

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.

Confidentiality

Whatever I see or hear in the lives of my patients, whether in connection with my professional practice or not, which ought not to be spoken of outside, I will keep secret, as considering all such things to be private.

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

[Stated above in the first sentence of the paragraph under “Concerning matters of life and death”]

Conclusion

So long as I maintain this Oath faithfully and without corruption, may it be granted to me to partake of life fully and the practice of my art, gaining the respect of all men for all time. However, should I transgress this Oath and violate it, may the opposite be my fate. If I faithfully keep this Oath, may I enjoy my life and the practice of my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if not, may the reverse be so. 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. [i] Both the original and the updated modern translations are from the American Hippocratic Registry. http://www.ahregistry.us/hippocratic-oath.html [ii] The modified translation was written by Dr. Louis Lasagna in 1964. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=20909