Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hippocratic Oath

A Look At The Hippocratic Oath!

Would The Father Of Medicine Be Proud Of Medicine Today?

   The Hippocratic Oath is a traditional acknowledgment of the responsibility acquired by those who obtain the title of physician before graduating from medical school and entering the world of medicine on their own. The Hippocratic Oath was first seen in the 5th century BC and is one of the oldest binding documents in history and was once seen as the authority to physicians medical practices.

Websters dictionary explains the Hippocratic Oath as such "an oath embodying a code of medical ethics usually taken by those about to begin medical practice"

Many people believe that the Father of medicine Hippocrates first penned the document but it emerged a century later and may not have been written by Hippocrates himself. Hippocrates was born between 470 and 460 B.C. to a family that claimed descent from Asclepius the Greek god of healing and the son of Apollo.

Hippocrates was part of a long Greek medical tradition. Hippocrates is credited with the earliest extant medical writings. Of these, few are probably genuinely the products of Hippocrates, but some are accepted as such, including the famous "Oath" which in addition to all else shows that 5th century B.C. physicians were already organized, trained and served as disciples.

Hippocrates believed that the physician was to be one who did good, had common sense and nobility. Since the 5th century those who entered into the world as physicians were required to recite the Hippocratic Oath which according to the oath is a legally and morally binding covenant before the gods. Keep in mind that Hippocrates was a fifth century polytheist from the Greek culture in which he lived.

The thing to note here is that the Oath was a covenant which according to tradition is morally binding and superior to any old promise. In the ancient times a Covenant was not only a promise to ones colleagues but an acknowledgment that one will not forsake his family. Hippocrates believed in the family bond of those who were called to the discipleship of medicine to serve their fellow man. A far cry from how medicine actually is practiced today in some form or another. The classic Hippocratic Oath was used until 1964 when a new modern version was penned by Louis Lasagna.

As the centuries raged on and people traveled the world even more new philosophies were created and people continued to rebel from the authorities that they once respected to guide them throughout their lives. Rebellion such as the reformation in the 1600's followed by the escape from British rule in the new world, the American Revolution. I don't feel that people are much different now than they were in Hippocrates' day although much has changed.

Those who came before us have changed this world, these changes have lead to a rebellion on an even larger scale. Many people no longer value authority over their own judgment this has caused the break down of the family which opens the door to further break down in all other areas. Children rebelling against their parents on a larger scale and parents rebelling against their children!

Little is sacred in the modern world that is why over the centuries the Hippocratic Oath has taken the back seat and is no longer taken seriously by many physicians. For the most part the oath has lost it effectiveness and is no longer seen by many as an authority bonded by tradition and a higher moral calling to fellow human beings.

Today few medical schools require students to recite the classical version of the Hippocratic Oath. I feel that the use of abortion in medicine is largely to blame for the reformation of the classic Hippocratic Oath which states,

"I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who 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."

Even though abortion was not yet legally recognized during the revisions of the Oath in 1964 it was practiced by many physicians, we did not see the legalization of abortion for personal use until 1973. In fact some form of abortion and infanticide has always been practiced by many throughout history. The new tragedy is the legalization of abortion for personal use like we have seen since 1973.

Today the Oath makes no mention of the gods, abortive agents, or keeping the sick from harm or injustice. Surprisingly, I have to say that I am not entirely disappointed with the new version of the oath, although one verse jumps out at me. I will get to that in a minute. Considering that today Doctors come held to so many different religious and cultural backgrounds. I would say that a reform of the Oath was in order and long over due in many respects.

What bothers me is that many physicians do not take even the modern oath seriously even though it uses phrase's such as "covenant", "avoiding over treatment", and "I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being."
With the rise in malpractice, over treatment of drugs and procedures, and the assembly line practices of doctors, and the experimental and harmful practice of human guinea pigs! How can one say that most doctors even follow the modern version of the Hippocratic Oath?

You can read the modern Oath in a minute. They leave so much room for any doctor to apply his/her own philosophies when treating patients that the new Oath literally left the door wide open for Roe VS Wade, euthanasia, and doctor assisted suicide, which by the way has nothing to do with health care and cures nothing!

The verse that really jumped out at me is this one "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."

The modern version of the Oath states that a doctor has the power to take a life and that this power is an awesome responsibility for the humble physician. There is that open door I was talking about and guess what happened? Today doctors take the lives of thousands of innocent human beings everyday and it is justified by the Oath as well as their own philosophies that lead them to believe that they are doing good!

"Above all, I must not play at God." What does this mean anyway? I have heard about not playing God but that wouldn't have worked for the Oath since the previous statement give a physician the right to take a life. I guess they felt that they had to include God somewhere in the oath and in fact this is the only place God is mentioned. Physicians are justified to do abortions at any stage of pregnancy, offer assisted suicide to their patients, prescribe harmful drugs that had little to no clinical testing as well as offer euthanasia to those afflicted with aging family members! As long as they don't play at God lol!

In conclusion, It was interesting learning about the Hippocratic Oath and I hope that you are equally as interested because of this article. My hope is that medical practices improve and physicians can become more like what Hippocrates envisioned, a calling to serve their fellow man. Not just a job but a real calling to do good! To those physicians who do practice medicine in this way, thank you! But we need your voice to make the changes we need!

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