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The Hippocratic Oath and others

Although written in antiquity, the Hippocratic Oath still expresses the principles for the ideal conduct for the physician. Learn more here.

Hippocratic Oath - Classical Version

 Translation from the Greek by Ludwig Edelstein. From The Hippocratic Oath: Text, Translation, and Interpretation, by Ludwig Edelstein. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1943.

I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art—if they desire to learn it—without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but no one else.

I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.

What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.

The Oath or Charge of Maimonides

Maimonides, (1145-48?-1204), was a  renowned Jewish theologian and physician who was born in Cordova, Spain. Because of the rising anti-semitism he fled with his family to Cairo, Egypt where he spent the rest of his life, practiced medicine and became a scholar of Jewish law.

 The Oath of Maimonides is often recited in place of or along with the Hippocratic Oath. Like, the Hippocratic Oath, the Oath of Maimonides, may not have been written by Maimonides himself.

The Oath of Maimonides

The eternal providence has appointed me to watch over the life and health of Thy creatures. May the love for my art actuate me at all time; may neither avarice nor miserliness, nor thirst for glory or for a great reputation engage my mind; for the enemies of truth and philanthropy could easily deceive me and make me forgetful of my lofty aim of doing good to Thy children.

May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain.

Grant me the strength, time and opportunity always to correct what I have acquired, always to extend its domain; for knowledge is immense and the spirit of man can extend indefinitely to enrich itself daily with new requirements.

Today he can discover his errors of yesterday and tomorrow he can obtain a new light on what he thinks himself sure of today. Oh, God, Thou has appointed me to watch over the life and death of Thy creatures; here am I ready for my vocation and now I turn unto my calling.

Hippocratic Oath - Modern Version

Written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, and used in many medical schools today.

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 overtreatment 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.

The Physicians' Oath, World Medical Association (Geneva, Switz.)

The Physician's Oath, to be sworn at the time a time a person enters into the medical profession, was added to the Declaration of Geneva and adopted by the General Assembly of the World Medical Association in September 1948, three months before the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which upholds the right to security of person. The Oath was amended by the 22nd World Medical Assembly, in August 1968.

This oath was written as a direct response to the atrocities committed by the physicians in Nazi Germany. The second last line reads, "I will maintain the utmost respect for human life; even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledtge contracy to the laws of humanity." 

The Physician's Oath

    • I solemnly pledge myself to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;
    • I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude which is their due;
    • I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity;
    • The health of my patient will be my first consideration;
    • I will respect the secrets which are confided in me;
    • I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honour and the noble traditions of the medical profession;
    • My colleagues will be my brothers and sisters;
    • I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, gender, politics, socioeconomic standing, or sexual orientation to intervene between my duty and my patient;
    • I will maintain the utmost respect for human life; even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of humanity;
    • I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour.

Also, the "Physician's Oath on Retirement" is being proposed "to address the moral, psychological, social, and cultural responsibilities that a physician assumes when voluntarily relinquishing the responsibilities of active medical practice."