The importance of the Hippocratic Oaths

The Hippocratic Oath

The mandatory Hippocratic Oath/ Doctor Oath/ Medical oath was introduced as a code for ancient physicians who had to be undertaken before they could practice medicine. The interesting part of this oath stipulates that besides acknowledging that medicine is basically science, a part of it can also be included in the “arts”.  This means that although science can take medicine up to a certain distance, art can take it much further and it puts physician’s in-charge when providing care for individuals which differ from person to person. The oath also acknowledges that although physicians are respected for their knowledge of science and the arts they are not perfect.

Physicians and Hippocratic Oath

Although physicians continue to take the Hippocratic Oath as part of the essential formalities required for the practice of medicine, many doctors now question the ability of the oath to address the realities of the modern medical world because of the revolutionary changes that have taken place in scientific, economic, political and social situations. Physicians have to evaluate how the Doctor Oath is applicable to a predicament that was not present at the time of Hippocrates such as abortion, physician-assisted suicide, and genetic testing. Many doctors question the validity of the Medical Oath in this age of medical specialization because in this era of specialization is whether a dermatologist should take the same oath as a cardiologist.

This can be seen as a sign of strength when a qualified and experienced physician can admit to not knowing something and asking for advice someone who might. The Hippocratic Oath also emphasizes upon treating “people” including diseases or conditions. Physicians must understand that the patient is the key to his/her own welfare and they should be accorded appropriate care. The oath also instructs physicians to hold sacred all human life and to protect it. It emphasizes the importance to respect and holds in the highest regards the person’s teacher, to be aware of their own shortcomings and to disregard self-interest while treating their patients.

Physicians will continue to put up with the doctor oath as a matter of principle because the taking of the oath binds the physicians of today with the physicians of the past and also with the physicians of the future as medical professionals in exercising. It is the ethical, moral and professional responsibility of physicians to adhere as much possible to the oath with their medical settings and practice. The wisdom inherent in the medical oath is still important because Hippocrates could not predict the complex medical problems and complexities of the future and the manner in which physicians are dealing with these problems and will continue to do so in the future.

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