The Hippocratic Oath is an oath of ethics historically taken by physicians. It is one of the most widely known of Greek medical texts. In its original form, it requires a new physician to swear, by a number of healing gods, to uphold specific ethical standards. The oath is the earliest expression of medical ethics in the Western world, establishing several principles of medical ethics which remain of paramount significance today. These include the principles of medical confidentiality and non-maleficence. As the seminal articulation of certain principles that continue to guide and inform medical practice, the ancient text is of more than historic and symbolic value. Swearing a modified form of the oath remains a rite of passage for medical graduates in many countries, and is a requirement enshrined in legal statutes of various jurisdictions, such that violations of the oath may carry criminal or other liability beyond the oath’s symbolic nature.
We have collected some of the best Physician Oaths for you. May these prayers for safety bring you comfort and peace of mind. May these prayers for strength encourage your spirit and strengthen your faith.
The Oath of Hippocrates of Kos, 5th century BC:
I swear by Apollo Healer, by Asclepius, by Hygieia, by Panacea, and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture.
To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture; to impart precept, oral instruction, and all other instruction to my own sons, the sons of my teacher, and to indentured pupils who have taken the Healer’s oath, but to nobody else.
I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment, and I will do no harm or injustice to them. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art. I will not use the knife, not even, verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein.
Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free. And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets.
Now if I carry out this oath, and break it not, may I gain for ever reputation among all men for my life and for my art; but if I break it and forswear myself, may the opposite befall me.
— Translation by W.H.S. Jones.
Declaration of Geneva of the World Medical Association
I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;
I will give my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due;
I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity;
The health of my patient will be my first consideration;
I will respect the secrets which are confided in me, even after the patient has died;
I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honor and the noble traditions of the medical profession;
My colleagues will be my brothers;
I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient;
I will maintain the utmost respect for human life from its beginning even under threat and I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity;
I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honor.
(adopted 1948, amended 1966 and 1983)
Medical Oath of USSR
Oath drawn up and approved by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR “Oath drawn up and approved by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in 1971, with one addition (on nuclear war) in 1983:1
Upon having conferred on me the high calling of physician and entering medical practice, I do solemnly swear:
To dedicate all my knowledge and strength to the preservation and improvement of the health of mankind and to the treatment and prevention of disease, and to work in good conscience wherever it is required by society;
To be always ready to provide medical care, to relate to the patient attentively and carefully, and to preserve medical confidences;
To constantly perfect my medical knowledge and clinical skills and thereby in my work to aid in the development of medical science and practice;
To refer, if the patient’s better interests warrant it, for advice from my fellow physicians, and never myself to refuse to give such advice or help;
To preserve and develop the noble traditions of Soviet medicine, to be guided in all my actions by the principles of Communist morality, and to always bear in mind the high calling of a Soviet physician and my responsibility to the people and to the Soviet state.
Recognizing the danger which nuclear weaponry presents for mankind, to struggle tirelessly for peace, and for the prevention of nuclear war.
I swear to be loyal to this oath as long as I live.
A Modern Hippocratic Oath
by Dr. Louis Lasagna
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;
I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of over treatment and therapeutic nihilism.
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.
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.
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 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.
I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
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.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection hereafter. 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.
The Oath of the Healer
by Louis Weinstein
In the eyes of God and in the presence of my fellow students and teachers, I at this most solemn time in my life do freely take this Oath, whereby I shall pledge to myself and all others the manner in which I shall live the rest of my days.
I shall be ever grateful to my teachers who have planted the seeds of knowledge, which I shall nurture forever. I thank them for allowing me to see the importance of learning and realize that lifelong study is critically important to becoming a Healer.
I realize that on this day, I become a physician for all eternity. I shall strive to be a person of good will, high moral character, and impeccable conduct. I shall learn to love my fellow man as much as I have learned to love the art of healing.
I shall always act in the best interest of my patient and shall never allow personal reward to impact on my judgment. I shall always have the highest respect for human life and remember that it is wrong to terminate life in certain circumstances, permissible in some, and an act of supreme love in others. I shall never promise a cure, as only death is certain, and I shall understand that preserving health is as important as treating disease. When a patient for whom I have been caring dies, I shall have the strength to allow him or her to die with dignity and in peace.
I shall have as a major focus in my life the promoting of a better world in which to live. I shall strive to take a comprehensive approach to understanding all aspects of life. To become the Healer I wish to be, I must expand my thinking and practice from a system of episodic care to one of a preventive approach to the problems of mankind, including the social ills of malnutrition and poverty that plague the world in which we live.
I am not a God and I cannot perform miracles. I am simply a person who has been given the rights and responsibilities to be a Healer. I pledge to myself and all who can hear me that this is what I shall become.
An Oath that “Bears the Name of Hippocrates”
I do solemnly swear, by whatever each of us holds most sacred
That I will be loyal to the Profession of Medicine and just and generous to its members
That I will lead my life and practice my art in uprightness and honor
That into whatsoever house I will enter: it shall be for the good of the sick to the utmost of my power, my holding myself far aloof from wrong, from corruption, from the tempting of others to vice
That I will exercise my art solely for the cure of my patients, and will give no drug, perform no operation for a criminal purpose, even if solicited; far less suggest it
That whatsoever I shall see or hear of the lives of my patients which is not fitting to be spoken, I will keep inviolably secret
These things do I swear. Let each of us bow the head in sign of acquiescence
And now, if I will be true to this, my oath, may good repute ever be mine; the opposite, if I should prove myself forsworn.
American Medical Association Code of Ethics (post- 1980)
Preamble: The medical profession has long subscribed to a body of ethical statements developed primarily for the benefit of the patient. As a member of this profession, a physician must recognize responsibility not only to patients, but also to society, to other health professionals, and to self. The following Principles adopted by the [AMA] are not laws, but standards of conduct which define the essentials of honorable behavior for the physician. II. A physician shall deal honestly with patients and colleagues, and strive to expose those physicians deficient in character or competence, or who engage in fraud or deception.
III. A physician shall respect the law and also recognize a responsibility to seek changes in those requirements which are contrary to the best interests of the patient.
IV. A physician shall respect the rights of patients, of colleagues, and of other health professionals, and shall safeguard patient confidences within the constraints of the law.
V. A physician shall continue to study, apply and advance scientific knowledge, make relevant information available to patients, colleagues, and the public, obtain consultation, and use the talents of other health professionals when indicated.
VI. A physician shall, in the provision of appropriate patient care, except in emergencies, be free to choose whom to serve, with whom to associate, and the environment in which to provide medical services. VII. A physician shall recognize a responsibility to participate in activities contributing to an improved community.
Borrowed From http://www.aapsonline.org/ethics/oaths.htm