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The Hippocratic Oath

A pleasant oath to remember our humanity.

I went down a strange research rabbit hole about the Hippocratic Oath, and tweeted about it:

Click through for the rest.


This is a modern re-write of the Hippocratic Oath which is the version most adopted by doctors today.

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.

Okay, it’s good to be humble and acknowledge the mountain of science that every doctor stands upon.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures that are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

This is my favorite line in the oath because it acknowledges that it’s necessary to always find the right balance here, and there’s no hard line around treatment or no treatment that a medical philosophy can rest on.

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.

Another caveat to our instincts to reduce everything to facts and theories. You gotta be a human as well.

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.

More humility. More acceptance of the fact that we’re all human.

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’m starting to think that there’s a big problem with a lack of humility in the medical profession. But this is a good reminder. Doctors don’t know everything. Nor can they save everyone.

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.

Oh yeah, patients are humans too.

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

But not as easy to take credit for. So another reminder to do things that get the outcome but avoid the credit, because they can be more effective.

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.

Yup, still a human!

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.

Enjoy life and leave the world better than you found it.

In the Health pile.
In the Negative space pile.