by Eldon Dahl
November 04, 2016
The Hippocratic Oath is one of the oldest binding documents in
While the classical oath calls for "the
opposite" of pleasure and fame for those who transgress the oath,
fewer than half of oaths taken today insist the taker be held
accountable for keeping the pledge.
Some doctors see oath-taking as little
more than a pro-forma ritual with little value beyond that of
upholding tradition, but,
How far have modern Physicians come
Hippocratic Oath as it was
intended to protect patients in doing no harm?
CTV recently reported that
1 in 18 experienced a potentially preventable injury while
hospitalized. Of those, 1 in 5 experienced multiple harmful events
during their stay.
Kelly Kliewer was one of those
In 2004, she went in for carpal tunnel
surgery. Once in surgery, though, the anesthesiologist gave her a
paralytic instead of an anesthetic.
According to Kliewer,
"I stopped breathing, it paralyzed
all my organs, went into respiratory distress and had to get put
on a ventilator."
She is still seeing a psychologist for
PTSD from the ordeal.
Intensive Care Medicine published a study (Medication
Administration Errors in Adult Patients in the ICU) on
medical errors in 2001 (4
Conventional Medical Practitioners that will Guide You in the Wrong
Direction when it Comes to Your Health).
Five American intensive care units
hosting a total of 851 adult patients were reviewed.
The study concluded,
"Of 5,744 observations in 851
patients, 187 (3.3%) medication administration errors were
detected. The therapeutic classes most commonly associated with
errors were vasoactive drugs 61 (32.6%) and sedative/analgesics
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine
released a report called 'To
Err Is Human - Building a Safer Health System.'
In the report, it was estimated that as
many as 98,000 hospital deaths per year were a result of hospital
errors. While regulatory authorities sprang to action, putting
reporting systems in place and trying to enforce accountability,
some recognized that the additional structures would not be enough.
Physicians need to be aware of
themselves so that errors could be turned around quickly and
patients would not suffer consequences.
This is the modern version of the Hippocratic Oath:
swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this
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 which
are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and
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
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.
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
Sadly, the rise of
the profit-driven pharmaceutical industry
proves that this oath often falls by the wayside. We must take
responsibility for our own health.
Natural treatments that bring the body
into balance are the best way to avoid damaging hospital visits.