The Hippocratic Oath is one of the most revered documents of history. It is a powerful rite of passage that connects generations of medical professionals around the world. Laid out in the oath are principles that provide the framework for modern medical ethics. Here are five facts you probably didn’t know about the Hippocratic Oath:
- The Hippocratic Oath was composed over 2,000 years ago around the years 3-5 BC. The original text was written in Ionic Greek by Hippocrates, who is considered to be the father of modern medicine in most western cultures.
- The Oath is still held sacred by physicians: to treat the ill to the best of one’s ability, to preserve a patient’s privacy, to teach the secrets of medicine to the next generation and so on.
- The content of the traditional Hippocratic Oath can be divided into 12 items: Covenant with the Greek god Apollo, covenant with teachers, commitment to students, covenant with patients, appropriate means & ends (the good of the patient not the physician), limits on means & ends, justice, chastity, confidentiality and accountability.
- Most medical schools today have their students swear upon modernised version of the translation of the original Greek text, rather than the traditional version.
- Many modern institutions have modified the content of the Hippocratic Oath to be more applicable to the time period. The most common changes to the modernized Oath include removing the prescription of sexual contact with patients, the ban against using abortive agents, the ban against euthanasia and the agreement to be accountable for keeping the Oath.