The Hippocratic Oath

Background information on promising to serve the healthcare community.

Hippocrates and the Hippocratic Oath

Now being admitted to the profession of medicine, I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity.

I will give my respect and gratitude to my deserving teachers and in my turn, I will teach and I will study.

I will practice medicine with conscience and dignity.

The health and life of my patients will be my first consideration.

I will hold in confidence all that my patient confides in me.

I will maintain the honor and the noble traditions of the medical profession.

I will not permit consideration of race, religion, nationality, ideology, or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient.

I will maintain the utmost respect for human life. Even under threat, I will not use my knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity.

These promises I make freely and upon my honor.

The Hippocratic Oath

History of the Hippocratic Oath

The Hippocratic Oath is an oath sworn by physicians that was established in the early 5th century B.C. by the Greek philosopher Hippocrates. The quote above is not the original oath, which was written in Ionic Greek. The oath written by Hippocrates contained references to the legendary Greek gods of the time as well as more humble vows regarding the nature of medical practice, medical education, and instruction.

The Hippocratic Oath has been revised several times in an effort to make it more suitable for modern medicine. The modern version of the oath doesn’t include a reference to any deity. Interestingly, the modern version of the oath also lacks mention of education without compensation, nor does it mention the pledge to commit any form of assisted suicide.

The Original Version of the Hippocratic Oath (translated to English)

Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art — if they desire to learn it — without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but to no one else.

I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.

What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

If I fulfill this path and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.

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