What are the consequences of the Hippocratic oath update?

The oath the doctors take at the end of their academic careers now includes the patient’s autonomy

Hippocratic oath

Leer en Español: ¿Cuáles son las consecuencias de la actualización al juramento hipocrático?

The Hippocratic oath is a vow every doctor makes when he or she graduates from university. During more than 2000 years, the principles of the Greek doctor, Hippocrates, has ruled the ethical dimensions of western medicine.

World Medical Association: it is a core document of medical ethics and modern version of the 2.500-year old Hippocratic Oath

But in 1948, during the Genève Convention, the oath was modified and updated. Now days, according to the World Medical Association, "it is a core document of medical ethics and modern version of the 2.500-year old Hippocratic Oath". However, in the XXI century, the Medical College Organization (MCO) announced that the WMA approved the modification of the Hippocratic oath.

After the Geneva Convention, the Hippocratic oath was already modified in 1968, 1983, 1994, 2005 and 2006. 

According to the WMA, the change seeks to consider the "modern developments in medicine and medical ethics and determined several shortcomings in the current version of the Declaration of Geneva".

Assisted suicide and abortion

The new text gained two more amendments. For the first time, the Hippocratic oath incorporates the willingness of the patients as an ethical principle, as well as the personal care and health of the individuals. Many experts consider it as a reference to the physician-assisted suicide as a method to respect the patient’s autonomy. It can also be interpreted as a possibility of respecting abortion as part of the "patient’s dignity".

Euthanasia or assisted suicide is currently legal in only 10 countries (including Colombia) and 6 states in the United States. The Hippocratic oath it's not a binding document, meaning that these practices aren’t forced onto any practicing physician, but rather it is used as an ethical guide.

Self-care

The World Medical Association added: "I will attend to my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard". This new clause protects the dignity of the doctors and their own health due to their stressful workload and the amount of responsibilities they have.

There is also another change in the gratitude section. In the past, the doctors only vowed gratitude and respect to their teachers. Now the doctors have to vow respect for their colleges, teachers, and students.

The WMA is expecting of a two-year revision process, including a period for public consultation, to become a global ethical code.

The Hippocratic oath was already modified in 1968, 1983, 1994, 2005 and 2006. However, this is the first time that the change has many differences in the understanding of the medical profession.

 

Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

We use cookies to improve our website. By continuing to use this website, you are giving consent to cookies being used. More details…