physician21

about medical tacts and talents

A new Hippocratic oath ~2010AD

* I promise that my medical knowledge will be used to benefit people’s health. Patients are my first concern. I will listen to them, and provide the best care I can. I will be honest, respectful, and compassionate towards all.
* I will do my best to help anyone in medical need, in emergencies. I will make every effort to ensure the rights of all patients are respected, including vulnerable groups who lack means of making their needs known.
* I will exercise my professional judgment, uninfluenced by political or religious pressure, or the age, race, sexual orientation, social class, wealth, or celebrity of my patient. I will not put profit or my own career above my duty to patient.
* I recognize the special value of human life, but I also know that prolonging life is not the only aim of health care. If I agree to perform abortion, I agree it should take place only within an ethical and legal context.
* I will not provide treatments that are pointless or harmful, or which an informed and competent patient refuses. I will help patients find the information and support they want to make decisions on their care.
* I will be as truthful as I can, and respect patients’ decisions, unless that puts others at risk of substantial harm. If I cannot agree with their requests I will explain why.
* If my patient has limited mental awareness, I will still encourage him or her to participate in decisions as much as they feel able. I will do my best to maintain confidentiality about all patients.
* If there are overriding reasons preventing my keeping a patient’s confidentiality I will explain them. I will recognize the limits of my knowledge and seek advice from colleagues as needed.
* I will do my best to keep myself and my colleagues informed of new developments, and ensure that poor standards or bad practices are exposed to those who can improve them.
* I will show respect for all those with whom I work and be ready to share my knowledge by teaching others what I know. I will use my training and professional standing to improve the community in which I work.
* I will respect each of my roles, as expert, communicator, scholar, partner, manager, teacher, professional, and health advocate. I will promote fair use of health resources and try to influence positively those whose policies harm public health.
* I recognize that I have responsibilities to humankind that transcend diktats and orders of States, and which no Legislature can countermand. I will oppose health policies that breach internationally accepted standards of human rights.
* I will learn from my mistakes and seek help from colleagues to promote patient safety. While keeping within this framework, I will not be discouraged by failure, and will try to continue in a spirit of practical and rational optimism.
* While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the Art, respected by all, in all times.

We take this oath not because we are doctors but because sooner or later we are all patients. Clause 1 is the central clause. It has a terrible beauty. For many, it is our family that is our main priority. Often we can strike an uneasy compromise with family life.
This page is dedicated to doctors for whom circumstances allow no such compromise: those who have not fled wars, or who have stayed at their posts during epidemics… The above is based on the BMA’s Revised Hippocratic Oath.

Reference: Longmore M, Wilkinson IB, Davidson EH, Foulkes A, Mafi AR: Oxford Handbook Of Clinical Medicine, 8. Edition; A new Hippocratic oath ~2010AD.

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