The lingering question as follows; “How has the Hippocratic oath changed?” and “How relevant is the Hippocratic oath today?”. These questions contribute to the actions and advice given by doctors specifically to patients who are in need of treatment. Essentially, the ‘Hippocratic Oath’ is an oath which originally began between the early years of the fifth and third centuries and was written in the style of ionic Greek. In the western culture, they would be known as ‘Hippocrates’, the father of medicine. There are two written versions of the oath. The original oath was used up until 1964 as oppose to the modernised version which was translated from the greek. The newly established oath after the year 1964, was written by Louis Lasagna. He was part of the American medical association and then transferred to being head of the ‘food and drug’ administration.
As a doctor, it is an obligation for them to acknowledge what goes wrong in our bodies and to encourage ways to fix the problem. However the problem of ‘Hubris’ over rules the principles concerning the distinction from right to wrong or good or bad. Doctors must learn to cope with their knowledge and be responsible in the practice of medicine. They need to accept the fact that some cases are impossible to treat and you can not fix what can’t be fixed. Doctors are required to apply medical knowledge and skills to diagnosis and to prevent diseases. It is crucial that they take on leadership when involved in health services in addition to asking questions and giving honest opinions on what’s best for each patient’s condition. Anyhow, it is considered a ‘crime against humanity’ if a doctor forces a patient into an involuntary decision. This goes against the ‘Hippocratic oath’ and leads to an action of false practice by the doctors.
From a patients perspective, we have this belief of pharmaceuticals being the best option. Notice each time we appear sickly, our first instinct would either be the need to see a doctor or to purchase recommended medicines from the nearest pharmacy. Nonetheless, the first thought process that patients tend to lean towards is the convenience of an instant cure. We try to do what’s best for our body and to seek advice from someone more specialised along the lines of the medical industry gives us reassurance. As patients, we also have to act upon roles of responsibility. This includes providing the doctor with information regarding medical complaints related to their health e.g pains, medication and other medical records..etc. This allows for doctors to plan for treatment as well as give a sufficient recovery.
The relationship between both the doctors and the patients is important. This is because it determines the efficiency of treatment. In the past, patients didn’t care about the medication given to them as long as they got better. This was due to the lack of awareness on medical issues. As time goes on, the community in general is exposed to better education. This increases the level of medical proficiency of the average person. Therefore, widening awareness and understandings of patients on what they should and should not do regarding medical issues.
In terms of education, doctors are constantly evolving with the times. The world of medicine is constantly changing with different and distinct cases. This prompts doctors to further reflect on their experience and knowledge to allow proper practice of medicine on a case-by-case basis. This further highlights the fact that the Hippocratic Oath is not compulsory but acts as a guide in the general practice of medicine. Unlike the textbooks of medicine, the hippocratic oath is not set in stone. It relies on the certain precedents and cases that act as a guideline for the doctors to follow.
Patients are given the option of accepting or rejecting the medical advice given by the doctor. In this era of information technology, this would not necessarily be a bad thing but rather it strengthens the choices that the patients themselves make. And due to this, the hippocratic oath has changed and it will continue to change. The doctors and patients play a huge role in defining what the hippocratic oath entails. A recent example taken from bbc news would be the case of a stage four sarcoma patient. The doctor has a choice either to encourage the patient with treatment or stop it altogether. Is it morally ethical to stop treating the patient because it is impossible to cure them. That comes down to the patient’s choice and perception. The hippocratic oath would not be able to function in this case. It becomes a case of subjective choice and no oath has the ability to objectively decide what is morally right or wrong.
In conclusion, the hippocratic oath has definitely changed according to the times. The advancement of education and awareness on medical issues in general has allowed patients and doctors alike to define medical practice. The hippocratic oath has changed to accommodate this new level of medical proficiency. The enforcement of human rights has also influenced the hippocratic oath as every patient has the right to refuse or accept the doctor’s advice. So is the hippocratic oath as relevant as it used to be? In most cases and hospitals around the world, it is not much more than an oath. It is considered as a formal figure of speech for doctors to be sworn into the medical taskforce. The hippocratic oath is important as it represents ancient traditions, customs and principles carried out by doctors. It was the catalyst that shaped the future of medicine and the culture of treating any patient no matter their background. Without the hippocratic oath, the proper medical procedures and rules wouldn’t exist. But even so, it has become only a formal symbol of medicine. In this day and age, the hippocratic oath no longer defines the practice of medicine, but rather the hippocratic oath is itself defined by the constantly evolving landscape of medicine.
Jordan Jia Wen Yeo is doing his A-levels from Epson College in Malaysia.