Hippocratic oath

an oath embodying the duties and obligations of physicians, usually taken by those about to enter upon the practice of medicine.
[1740-50]

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▪ ethical code
      ethical code attributed to the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, adopted as a guide to conduct by the medical profession throughout the ages and still used in the graduation ceremonies of many medical schools. Although little is known of the life of Hippocrates—or, indeed, if he was the only practitioner of the time using this name—a body of manuscripts, called the Hippocratic Collection (Corpus Hippocraticum), survived until modern times. In addition to containing information on medical matters, the collection embodied a code of principles for the teachers of medicine and for their students. This code, or a fragment of it, has been handed down in various versions through generations of physicians as the Hippocratic oath.

      The oath dictates the obligations of the physician to students of medicine and the duties of pupil to teacher. In the oath, the physician pledges to prescribe only beneficial treatments, according to his abilities and judgment; to refrain from causing harm or hurt; and to live an exemplary personal and professional life.

      The text of the Hippocratic Oath (c. 400 BC) provided below is a translation from Greek by Francis Adams (1849). It is considered a classical version and differs from contemporary versions, which are reviewed and revised frequently to fit with changes in modern medical practice.

I swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation—to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this Art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves. Whatever, in connection with my professional practice or not, in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. 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 men, in all times! But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot!

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hippocratic oath — Hippocratic oath, An oath said to have been dictated by Hippocrates to his disciples. Such an oath is still administered to candidates for graduation in medicine. [PJC] Note: An English translation of the oath reads: I swear by Apollo the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Hippocratic oath — ► NOUN ▪ a former oath taken by those beginning medical practice to observe a code of professional behaviour (parts of which are still used in some medical schools). ORIGIN with reference to Hippocrates, a Greek physician of the 5th century BC …   English terms dictionary

  • Hippocratic oath — n. the oath generally taken by students receiving a medical degree: it is attributed to Hippocrates and sets forth an ethical code for the medical profession …   English World dictionary

  • Hippocratic Oath — For other uses, see Hippocratic Oath (disambiguation). A 12th century Byzantine manuscript of the Oath, rendered in the form of a cross. The Hippocratic Oath is an oath historically taken by physicians and other healthcare professionals swearing… …   Wikipedia

  • Hippocratic Oath — One of the oldest binding documents in history, the Oath written by Hippocrates is still held sacred by physicians: to treat the ill to the best of one s ability, to preserve a patient s privacy, to teach the secrets of medicine to the next… …   Medical dictionary

  • Hippocratic oath — [[t]hɪ̱pəkrætɪk o͟ʊθ[/t]] N SING: the N The Hippocratic oath is a formal promise made by recently qualified doctors that they will follow the standards set by their profession and try to preserve life …   English dictionary

  • Hippocratic oath — [ˌhɪpə kratɪk] noun a former oath taken by those beginning medical practice, affirming their obligations and proper conduct, parts of which are still used in some medical schools. Origin C18: Hippocratic from med. L. Hippocraticus relating to… …   English new terms dictionary

  • Hippocratic oath — Hip′pocrat′ic oath′ n. an oath embodying the duties and obligations of physicians, usu. taken by those about to enter upon the practice of medicine • Etymology: 1740–50 …   From formal English to slang

  • Hippocratic oath — noun Date: 1747 an oath embodying a code of medical ethics usually taken by those about to begin medical practice …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Hippocratic oath — noun An oath sworn by newly qualified physicians that they will observe the medical ethics that derived from …   Wiktionary

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