The title of this blog is a quote from Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, often considered the father of medicine. Many of us are familiar with his name, as medical doctors today still abide by the Hippocratic Oath as their ethical guide for conduct and care. While at a workshop recently, a fellow acupuncturist quoted a segment of the Hippocratic Oath, and I was struck by how relevant it is, not to just the field of modern medicine, but to all fields of partnership in healing. While hanging the original oath on my office wall in Phoenix, declaring my allegiance to the Greek Gods, may be a bit strange, I am compelled to at least share the revised oath with others. This version, rewritten in 1964 by Dr. Louis Lasagna, is not only inspiring, but serves as a sort of benchmark for how I want to lead my life as a Doctor of Acupuncture.
So without further ado, I present:
The Revised Hippocratic Oath
“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 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 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.”