Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Hippocratic Oath

5th BCE Greek Text, attributed to the physician Hippocrates (called the father of western medicine), that specifies a code of conduct for those engaged in the healing arts (physicians and physician assistants). In summary, it requires the following:
  • Devise appropriate diet for the sick
  • Cause no hurt, suffering, or damage
  • Never administer poison
  • Never administer medicine that aborts a child
  • Confidentiality: Never share secrets or knowledge obtained when healing or visiting the sick
What is not specifically stated: the popular phrase "do no harm," commonly thought to be part of the Hippocratic Oath, which is instead attributed to the 19th CE surgeon Thomas Inman. Though the words "hurt," "suffering," and "damage" seem equivalent.

In the 1960s, the oath was changed to "utmost respect for human life from its beginning," a more secular version.

The Osteopathic Oath, pledged by osteopathic medical professionals, requires confidentiality, evidence based medicine, nonmaleficence (forbidding intentional harm), forbids euthanasia, but is mute about abortion.