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Monday, December 19, 2011

What Happened to the Hippocratic Oath?

Hippocratic Oath(C) Daniel Meyer

The Hippocratic Oath has been around for about 2,500 years. It was written to ensure doctors practice medicine ethically and morally. As modern medicine has evolved, doctors have become evermore reliant on medicines to cure problems. While this has saved many lives, it has also taken many. Meanwhile, thousands of our veterans are fighting for their lives because of various environmental hazards. There are no medicines to cure most of our problems, but compassion from doctors would be helpful. So....

The real question today is simple: What happened to the Hippocratic Oath?

Let me share what the Hippocratic Oath states (Courtesy of Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocratic_Oath):
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 to 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.
I feel this oath has lost it's luster in modern times. A few days ago, I wrote an article about my horrendous visit to UCLA medical center. I've had several awful visits to different doctors, but personally nothing tops this trip to UCLA. I want to break down sections of the Hippocratic Oath to my experiences with terrible doctors. I would love for everyone to comment on this post about your own personal experiences. Citizens of this great country deserve to know how this nation's heroes are being treated.

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 feel this one is the most important. Warmth, sympathy, and understanding do not seem to be a part of very many doctor's vocabulary anymore. As I said before, too many doctors rely on medicine to treat patients. Instead of caring about my medical problems, they don't even take the time to ask questions like "How is this affecting your life?" or "Is there anything I can do to make things easier on you?" They come across as cold and calculating, quick to blame me for what the burn pits did to me. This should be a staple of all doctor's bedside manners.

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 wish this part of the oath was utilized properly. Many doctors seem to be too proud or stubborn to ask for help. I understand that my issues are complicated, but lying to my face or making up something just to get me to leave is a disgrace to the medical profession. If a doctor knows someone else who may be able to help, why not just introduce us to them? We've been forced to repeatedly look for a new doctor because this part of the oath is being ignored.

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.

Lately, doctors have treated me like anything but a sick human being. I am made to feel like a criminal, like I did something wrong. I didn't choose to get sick from burn pits, I'm a victim of negligence. They don't take into consideration the effect my illnesses have on my wife, family, and friends. I have many problems that require treatment, but I would prefer they treat me like a human and have compassion than to have my condition cured.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

Where were the military doctors on this one? Thousands of veterans were exposed to agent orange and burn pits and I know for a fact military doctors were deployed as well. Why did they not report these problems to prevent such widespread illness and disease? Seems like this line has been forgotten as well.

Summary
I'm sure I could point out every part of the Hippocratic Oath and give an example of how it's been neglected. Our veterans deserve the best medical care possible, yet we are receiving some of the worst. It's a tragedy that I refuse to turn a blind eye to. Please pick out a line from the oath that you feel has been ignored the most and share your story. I look forward to reading all of your responses!

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