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The Hippocratic Oath

Hippocratic oath /hip'krat'ik/, an oath, thought to have come from Hippocrates, that serves as an ethical guide for the medical profession. It is traditionally part of the graduation ceremonies of medical colleges and reads as follows:

I swear by Apollo the physician, by AEsculapius, Hygeia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, and all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment the following Oath:

"To consider dear to me as my parents him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and if necessary to share my goods with him; to look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art if they so desire without fee or written promise; to impart to my sons and the sons of the master who taught me and the disciples who have enrolled themselves and have agreed to the rules of the profession, but to these alone, the precepts and the instruction. I will prescribe regimen for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone. To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug, nor give advice which may cause his death. Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion. But I will preserve the purity of my life and my art. I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners (specialists in this art). In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction, and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves. All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or outside of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal."

If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.

Hippocrates /hipok'rtez/, a Greek physician born about 460 sc on the island of Cos, a center for the worship of AEsculapius. Called the "Father of Medicine," Hippocrates introduced a scientific approach to healing by seeking physical causes for disease rather than magic or mythic relationships believed in by members of the AEsculapian cults of the time. He also gathered case records of illnesses, including results of treatments given, and developed the art of ethical bedside care.

Excerpted from Mosby's Medical Encyclopedia
Copyright (c) 1994-5, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Last updated 2005/03/15

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