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Food for thought
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- Be the light to the "lost sheep"
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- Gesundheit Institute

Sharing of Moral Values

The above Chinese calligraphy is kindly
contributed by Ms Florence Shen



Be the light to the "lost sheep"


After reading an article on "Docs too free with giving out pills? It's like trafficking" in the Straits Times of 5 June 2004, I feel that the Hippocratic Oath is losing its "grip" on some doctors who had sworn to it upon their graduation from medical schools.

From my interactions with some cancer patients, I also noticed that some doctors had failed to be guided by the Hippocratic Oath into a lifelong career in service to humanity, evident from their major interests lie in lifestyle and wealth accumulation, and seeking top dollar. Please click here to read my write-up on "It's about money".

Indeed, in every field there are people who abuse their authority. Although the Hippocratic Oath is not a legally binding oath, the doctors who have sworn to it should have the moral and ethical values to decide if and how far they will be willing to go beyond the guidelines of the Hippocratic Oath.

Perhaps, some doctors have long forgotten what the oath means to them. To help these "lost sheep", patients can help to redirect them onto the right path by sending them a copy of the Oath for them to "retake" it.

Hopefully, they will display the Oath on their clinic wall alongside their family portraits/pictures, and feel thankful to be blessed with a pair of "medicine" hands to provide for the family.

You may print the following versions of Oath commonly taken by doctors.

Hippocratic Oath - Classical Version

Hippocratic Oath - Modern Version

Hippocratic Oath - Classical Version


THE OATH
by Hippocrates
400 BC
Translated by Francis Adams

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 judgment, 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 judgment, 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 laboring 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 practice 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!


Hippocratic Oath - Modern Version


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.

Written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, and used in many medical schools today.




Posted on 11 June 2004


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