The Hippocratic Oath as I trust it to be translated directly from Greek:

I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:

To consider dear to me, as my parents, he 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.

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

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 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.

A modern version as translated and edited in 1964 by a Dr. Lasagna (no joke) who was at one time dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University.

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 [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment 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 to 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 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.

OK. Why do I care about the Hippocratic Oath? Well, first, I don’t. It is not a requirement of doctors who want to practice. I know it is believed to be, but it isn’t. Perhaps a school here and there recites it upon graduation or signs it when signing licensing papers, but there is no requirement. Nor should there be.

Why? Number one – Medicine is an ART. It is not a science. No one exact precise action will produce the same result every time. Never. So, a doctor can swear to “do no harm” but without any intention do a far greater harm than the original complaint.

Number two – conventional medicine does not focus on treatment, but rather a cure. Now, I am on record somewhere in this blog about being opposed to searching for “cures.” The research is far too costly. If private enterprise wants to do it, great. But government should not. It is simply too expensive and NEVER ends. Take cancer, for example. Cancer is a mutation of a cell. Why does it mutate? Science may know why and how it can mutate, but it doesn’t know why it does actually mutate. What difference does it make? Once its cause and action is determined and one single mutation is “cured,” *poof* there is a new mutation. Why? It’s natural selection. It’s the dying process. It’s basic cell theory. Bottom line – it can’t be eradicated. There is NO CURE for nature.
What I can control, however, is my managing my response to a mutation (or an invasion in the event of a virus or bacteria). How will I manage my body’s response to this change? How will I care for myself in light of this physical change?

So I therefore believe in the treatment of symptoms. Yes, yes, I do believe some things, many things, can be beaten back. Colds, viruses, etc can call be “cured” as in minimized in my body, but not cured.

And this brings us back to the Hipporatic Oath that liberal-cons like to hold out in the heathcare debate. “We must look after everyone. Do no harm regardless of income.” Let me show how the Hippocratic Oath is violated EVERY DAY in the regular course of a standard office visit for a simple runny nose, tired body, and headache.

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.

Great! We should share information! But guess what? It isn’t PRACTICING PHYSICIANS who are doing most of the research, or even in many cases, guiding the research. I am in the doctor’s office today because I don’t feel well and my nose is running which is an inconvenience. The drug and tissue companies told me so and my doctor exacerbates their claims by continuing to promote their products.

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

The doctor sees me, suggests pseudoephedrine and claritin (overtreatment) and a round of avelox, an antibiotic (overtreatment and therapeuitc 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.

And he disappears from the room. He was maybe here for five minutes. But then he pops back in. “Here are some samples. And if it doesn’t clear up, let’s consider prednisone or a stronger antibiotic.” And he disappears. Where is the sympathy? warmth?

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.

The doctor just loaded me up with all kinds of pharmaceuticals but didn’t know what was going on. “It could be a cold or a sinus infection.” So he didn’t say “I know not.” But he also didn’t treat me as if he didn’t know. He treated me for EVERY possible scenario.

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 to 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 am going to break from my own scenario and reference some with which I am intimately familiar, yet will not share the details. Doctors play God every day. When fertility drugs and treatments are used – that’s playing God. When selective reductions in embryos and abortions are performed – that’s playing God. When premature babies are born and must be “maintained” artificially – that’s playing God. When respirators, feeding tubes, extreme fluids, blood, heavy antibiotics are used – that’s playing God. When tools are sterilized – that’s playing God. And so the whole not playing God thing is OUT of the window. That’s why most people go to doctors – they need and/or want a god to fix their problem.

Now back to my scenario… my doctor DID play God. Instead of sending me on my way with a “looks like a virus, try a saline rinse, lots of water and rest and come back if you develop a fever or …” he gave me an arsenal of weapons to kill the virus or infection. That is playing God. And that is what most of us want doctors to do…

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.

Does my doctor know how my headache is affecting my family? Did he ask? Ever? Another useless line!

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

I came in for this runny nose, exhaustion, and headache. He sees I am also 50 pounds overweight. Overweight people are statistically sicker. But he didn’t say a word to me about my weight. No disease prevented here. But yes, prevention is preferable to cure.  NOT, however, at the expense of everyone. Prevention is a slippery slope. Remember the scoliosis screenings in middle school that led to lots of sexual assault charges? Look at mandatory vaccinations, and diseases are on the rise again… Prevention will weaken our society’s physical strength. It already is.

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.

OK. And I agree. And when I run into my doctor at an event, he will certainly ask how I recovered. But how many doctors do you know who are even above themselves?

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.

This just reads like a fortune cookie and I cannot stop laughing. So I’ll stop. After I put “in bed” at the end. And now I am laughing harder…
SO, I presented a scenario where I just showed up feeling bad and my doctor violated nearly every line of the Hippocratic Oath. And this is a scenario I’ve heard friend upon friend recount. Maybe it was a fever in a kid and the parent walked away with an antibiotic scrip and the kid had a coxsackie virus. Maybe it was the family who successfully kept a person alive with the doctor’s help for months. I know this oath means NOTHING.

So, when the liberal-cons start tossing it around at the suggestion that some doctors will begin refusing to treat overweight patients because those patients are too costly to their practice, well, suck it up. The Hippocratic Oath means nothing and the liberal-cons chose the one-size-fits-all nationalized heathcare system. Except, guess what? Apparently one can be even too fat for that.

Healthcare is not a right. It’s an industry. As it should be. Industries thrive and grow when free market competition exists. I want a doctor fighting for my dime.

Our family has used the free market approach to healthcare. We didn’t just show up at an office and stick with it when we weren’t getting what we needed. We looked for doctors that accepted our views on conventional medicine. If they didn’t, we moved on.

Our family does not abuse medical care. We go when we need to go. Need. And we take responsibility for our own care by learning – and living. It’s OK to feel like crap sometimes. No need to pop a tylenol every time. Maybe a cup of tea and a quiet moment is enough to muster strength to endure the pain and get through the day.

I am not saying our family has it all figured out. But I can say we’ve been through a good bit of trauma. And, well, serious illness. In fact, had I followed a doctor’s path many moons ago, I would be on drugs for MS. Who knows what other issues would have arisen from years on those medicines. But I instead chose learn as much as I could and then to make my OWN decision. And now I can run 20 miles a week. Take from that what you will, but please keep in mind, that even the revered Hippocratic Oath recognizes medicine as an art…

Advertisements