1 / 26

The Hippocratic Oath and the Ethics of Medicine

Presentation posted in : General

Download Presentation

The Hippocratic Oath and the Ethics of Medicine

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use only and may not be sold or licensed nor shared on other sites. SlideServe reserves the right to change this policy at anytime.While downloading, If for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Presentation Transcript

The hippocratic oath and the ethics of medicine l.jpg

The Hippocratic Oath and the Ethics of Medicine

Steven Miles, MD

University of Minnesota

Believed to be the only depiction of Hippocrates.

Oath 400 bc l.jpg

Oath -- 400 BC

  • Hippocractic Medicine

    • Rejected divine explanations for the cause or treatment of disease in favor of empirical, causal observations.

    • Transformed oral traditions passed in families to recorded observations and clinical experiences shared within a guild.

Time line l.jpg

Time Line

Columbus Voyage

Fall of Athens




Oldest Oath










1st Medical

School use

The cutting insertion l.jpg

The Cutting Insertion

Fall of Athens





I will not cut, and certainly not those suffering from stone, but I will cede this to practitioners of this activity.

Oldest Oath



Surgery separates from Medicine

Bladder stone

surgical innovation

240 BCE

Oaths ethics questions l.jpg

Oaths Ethics‘Questions

  • Who is the physician?

  • What is the physician committed to?

  • Who is the physician accountable to?

Slide6 l.jpg

Who is the physician?

Opening of oath an invocation l.jpg

Opening of Oath: An invocation?...

  • I swear by Apollo the Physician and by Asclepius and by Hygieia and Panacea and by all the gods as well as goddesses, making them judges [witnesses], to bring the following oath … to fulfillment, in accordance with my power and my judgment;

Or does it proclaim geneology l.jpg

… or does it proclaim geneology?

  • “Is there a man who has not heard of me—Amphitryon of Argos, son of Alcaeus, grandson of Perseus, and father of Heracles. I have lived here in Thebes ever since the crop of Sown Men sprang full grown out of the Earth.”

    • From Heracles by Euripides

If geneology, what does it mean?

The family of medicine i medicine born of love and grief l.jpg

The Family of Medicine I(Medicine born of love and grief)

Apollo Coronis

Physician, prophecy


Chiron (a Centaur)

Trainer of Achilles

Medical education

Apollo prophecy prognosis l.jpg


God of Reason

God of Prophecy

Oracle at Delphi


Reason- Natural Cause and Effect:

Points to cause, diagnosis, and treatment.


Apollo: Prophecy & Prognosis

Prometheus foresight l.jpg

Prometheus (Foresight)

  • A titan who gave humans fire and creativity to invent medicines and imagine a prognosis.

  • To prevent despair at foreseeing death in a person who was dying.

    Prom: I stopped mortals from foreseeing doom.

    Chorus: What cure did you discover for that sickness?

    Prom: I sowed in them blind hope.

    • Aeschylus. Prometheus Bound

The family of medicine ii l.jpg

The Family of Medicine II


(Hercules’ Daughter)





Pindar s verdict on asclepius l.jpg

Pindar’s Verdict on Asclepius

  • Still, even wisdom yields to hope of profit. And gold induced no less than he [Asclepius] to try to resur-rect a man whom death already had imprisoned…. We must seek from deity the things that fit our mortal hearts, keeping our cond-ition and our destiny in mind. My vital being, do not seek immortal life; exhaust, instead, all possibility. Pindar. Pythian Odes 3-63.

What does the apollo genesis story of medicine say l.jpg

What does the Apollo Genesis Story of Medicine Say?

  • The passion to heal arises from love and grief.

  • Physicians must accept mortality as a boundary for moral work.

  • The names of Asclepius and Epione say that healing is not a war but a gentle rebalancing to path to health.

The family of medicine iii l.jpg

The Family of Medicine III

Asclepius Epione

Unceasingly Gentle Soothing













The family of medicine iv l.jpg

The Family of Medicine IV

Asclepius Epione

Unceasingly Gentle Soothing



“to regard my teachers as equal to my parents” [Oath]


Each Physician

(Hippocrates dies in Larissa)

Slide17 l.jpg

What is the physician committed to?

Slide18 l.jpg

What is the Physician Committed to?

Slide19 l.jpg

What does the Physician Promise to Society?

I will not give a drug that is deadly to anyone if asked, nor will I suggest the way to such a counsel.

  • Capital punishment?

  • Euthanasia?

  • Homicide?

Slide20 l.jpg

What does the Physician Promise to Society?

I will not give a woman a destructive pessary.



Anti-trespass in a woman chattel society?

Pessaries are dangerous.

What does the physician promise to the patient 1 l.jpg

What Does the Physician Promise to the Patient? 1

  • especially from sexual acts both upon women's bodies and upon men's, both of the free and of the slaves.

What does the physician promise to the patient 2 l.jpg

What Does the Physician Promise to the Patient? 2

About whatever I may see or hear in or without treatment…

-- things that should not ever be blurted out outside –

I will remain silent, holding such things to be [profane to speak of].

Who are physicians accountable to l.jpg

Who are Physicians Accountable to?

  • If I render this oath fulfilled, and if I do not blur and confound it may it be to me to enjoy the benefits both of life and of techne (art and science), being held in good repute among all human beingsfor time eternal.

  • If, however, I transgress and perjure myself, the opposite of these.

Oath s vision l.jpg

Oath’s Vision

An empirical science, a moral community

Self sustaining by passing accumulating knowledge



Physician and Society

Personal Integrity

In a pure and holy way,

I will guard my life

and my art and science.

Clinical Ethics


to judgment of history.

Summary l.jpg


  • Oath conforms to the medical practice and rhetoric of Classic Greece.

  • Roles: education, compiling knowledge, and treatment.

  • Ethics: beneficence and on avoiding injustice in public and clinical spheres.

  • Progressive and historically accountable rather than deistically accountable.

Steven miles md miles001@umn edu l.jpg

Steven Miles