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“The Hippocratic Oath, Then and Now,” by Dr. Kenneth Scott Lloyd

14 Dec

Since the 4th century BCE, the Hippocratic Oath has been part of most doctors’ educations. Although today’s doctors swear to a modern language version, the oath still upholds a set of ideal values for the physician.

The ancient version urges oath-takers to revere their teachers, pass on their medical knowledge to their sons, and prescribe healthful diets to patients. It also prohibits giving lethal drugs, even if patients ask for them, as well as banning sexual contact with them. The modern requirement for confidentiality finds its origins in the oath.

The most commonly used version today dates to 1964. Significant differences exist between the old and modern versions, reflecting the vast changes in medicine since Hippocrates’s time. For instance, the modern oath permits euthanasia, allows doctors to consult with other doctors, and recommends preventive medicine. Abortions are not mentioned in the 1964 oath, as they are in the first version. The ancient rule against doctors performing surgery obviously no longer applies.

Kenneth Scott Lloyd’s medical practice includes internal medicine and pulmonary disease. He is affiliated with Respiratory Consultants of Houston, P.A.