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The Hypocritical Oath
(With apologies to Patch Adams and any other medical practitioner who actually puts patient care before any other consideration.)
Many medical practitioners have sworn the Hippocratic oath since it was first proposed by Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine. Since that time, the oath has been changed by different societies to accommodate changing times, and, today, not all teaching schools require new doctors to swear to this oath. Below is an examination of one of the variants.
Para 1: I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:
Fair enough, but do they really know what they are swearing to? Do you?
Para 2: 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.
“…in whose steps I walk,” that’s the problem. The medical industry is build brick upon brick of so called scientific evidence produced by individuals who claim advances in medical science. Well, it’s about time that it suffered from a double whammy Katrina/Wilma hurricane of Category 5+ magnitude. That’s what it’s going to take to get them to realize that the American Medical Association and the scientific method does not have all the answers and that the very basis of their scientific method is Herbalism, a practice the AMA seeks to step on.
As for sharing their knowledge, this is definitely a patchy affair. Some do, if they can get a research grant to enable them to write a paper for publication in a scientific journal. But, if a doctor working for a drug house produces scientific evidence for the efficacy of another approach or a less expensive drug, they can’t get their work published. Their over-riding need is to stay employed by the company whose principal goal is to find new ways of producing specialist drugs sold at exorbitant prices to increase their profits. Worse, these researchers have to sign secrecy contracts before they can be employed.
Para 3: I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
Ignoring the fact that the statement itself is grammatically incorrect (what else might they do in such a slipshod manner?), let us look at over-treatment and therapeutic nihilism: many children have been subjected to this phenomenon by doctor’s ignorance of a child’s condition. For example, epilepsy can be easily cured by naturopathic methods as practiced at John Hopkins School of Medicine and yet doctors throughout the world still prescribe drugs with horrendous side effects that do absolutely no good at all, i.e. they are therapeutically nihilistic and to use them is to over treat a condition for which there is a simple remedy.
The same applies to the treatment of gallstones. Gallstones are formed in the liver and only become apparent when they have moved into the gallbladder, becoming sufficiently calcified as to show up on X-Ray. There is a simply herbal remedy used for thousands of years that can relieve the problem in 24 hours painlessly and cheaply without surgical intervention. To subject patients to surgery is decidedly therapeutic nihilism in the extreme.
Para 4: 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.
Doctors practicing modern medicine in America are taught that medicine is a science. Whatever part of their education is dedicated to “warmth, sympathy, and understanding,” we have no idea, but it is patently obvious, if only from the limited amount of time a doctor gives each patient, that these three qualities are not practiced in the majority of cases. When did your doctor last give you the warmth of a hug of sympathy, or show any true understanding of how you are feeling?
Para 5: 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.
The danger in this statement is that when a doctor does not know what a patient is suffering from, he rarely says so, frequently prescribing treatments for assumed conditions that the patient does not have. His alternative is applied by sending the patient to a specialist. If this isn’t passing the buck, what is? The problem then becomes the specialist, and we’ve known plenty of those who don’t have the answers either. Ask any rheumatologist, “What causes the disease?” “Aha,” he will confess, “We really don’t know…”
Para 6: 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.
“… play at God!” Now this does bring a smile to the face and a chuckle to the throat. The moment you step into a doctor’s office and ask his assistance, you are asking him to take responsibility for your health care. You, in that moment, are asking him to “play at God”. Since when did a doctor acknowledge your own culpability and your own responsibility for your health? At that moment, all he/she can do is offer you drug therapy or surgery. As a member of the American Medical Association and the laws this organization has brought about, they can do nothing else. If this is not playing God, what is?
When you do accept responsibility for your own healthcare, does your doctor cooperate with you? Unlikely! When we have explained to our doctors that we don’t want a particular drug, or have requested something that has helped us in the past, we have been turned down. Another example of the doctor playing God! We know our bodies and how they respond to medication, our doctors’ do not and any treatment offered (albeit with the best of intentions) may not be appropriate for our bodies – or yours. What happened to freedom of choice, a God-given right?
Para 7: 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.
In America, health care is a business of massive proportions backed by the drug houses whose major interest is increasing the profits of shareholders. It does not matter what effect any medical treatment offered has on a “person’s family and economic stability”. Expensive tests will be performed regardless of whether they are needed or not due to the physicians’ greater fear of being sued for damages. Medications will be prescribed, treatments recommended, all of which the patient, despite their familial and financial circumstances, will be expected to fund. Very few doctors under this regime take responsibility for such matters. If the treatment kills the patient, what then! It’s a well-known fact that doctors bury their mistakes, or, if they are discovered, get sued for millions of dollars thus increasing the cost of healthcare to the patient. Between them, the doctors and lawyers fleece the poor. Under these circumstances, can doctors really claim they “care adequately for the sick”?
Para 8: I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
Prevention is certainly better for the individual, but two factors are important here. Firstly, the patient goes to the doctor for treatment when they have become ill. The doctor does not prevent illness in his patient because he only becomes activated after the fact, not before. There are no provisions in America for any doctor to ensure that his patients do not become sick in the first place. Secondly, most medications the doctor prescribes do not prevent disease. Many, have side effects that cause other diseases, and can even cause death.
Para 9: 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 we remember rightly, the majority of doctors earn significantly more money than the majority of people in their society. It has always been a prestigious profession from a financial perspective. Can anyone point us to a doctor who goes out of his way to ensure that his patients can prevent themselves from becoming ill, or a doctor who makes financial sacrifices of his own for the infirm? What “special obligations” are being referred to here? Can anyone tell us?
Para 10: 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.
We think you would agree that the majority of doctors enjoy their lives and practice very little art in the diagnosis and treatment of disease whether they do or do not violate the Hippocratic oath.
We submit that the respect doctors receive is out of the fear their patients have of them, rather than for the treatment received.
“…respect…” Now why should we respect someone who has a mind so shut that they actually go out of their way to deprive people of homeopathy, naturopathy, Herbalism, etc. Nope! They don’t deserve respect – they do deserve derision.
“…remembered with affection…” What a joke. We don’t think most patients know their physicians well enough to remember them at all given the amount of time their doctor allows them.
A very uplifting last statement to the final clause of the Hippocratic oath, but who do these people think they are kidding? The finest traditions of their calling died long ago. The AMA and the drug houses rule practicing medical professionals! They have no minds or wills of their own in the practice of modern medicine. We suspect many of them realize this after they have been in practice for several years. As for the use of the expression “joy of healing”, we are staggered beyond belief at such arrogance. They heal no one; they simply help the individual’s body to heal itself. Now what could be more hypocritical than that?
The Hippocratic oath is the most hypocritical oath any doctor could take. Not only does it need updating, it needs to take into consideration all other medical practices that are in use today that DO bring relief to the suffering of millions without drugs or surgery. The original meaning, as postulated by Hippocrates, has become meaningless and we’re certain that he’s turning in his grave at what has happened to medical practice, certainly in the last sixty years.
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