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Hippocratic Oath

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Article Updated: Sep 28, 2009

The Hippocratic Oath

The Hippocratic Oath is an oath demanded of physicians swearing to ethically practice medicine. It is estimated to have been written in the 4 th century B.C.E. by the Greek physician and teacher Hippocrates (ca. 460-ca. 377 b.c.e. ) or by one of his students, and is usually included in the Hippocratic Corpus.

Derivations of the oath have been modified over the years in various countries The oath reads as follows:

  • 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, 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. 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.

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