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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Musing on Medicine and Its Long History As a Healing and Proud Profession.

Well, I have exhausted most of the material I know concerning ObamaCare and the dreadful effrets it will have on the economy and ultimately on the practice of medicine and the care for sick patients. Already, many physicians are optioning to retire or go into non-patient care activities in medicine. If ObamaCare is fully implemented, thirty million new patients with insurance will be clamoring for care which cannot be provided by the shrinking number of physicians. So, people will have an insurance card, but long and often fatal delays as they seek healthcare. I thought it might be worthwhile to return to  Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician of the fifth century B.C. and then some excerpts from a wonderful article in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 2013:106:288–292 with the hope that despite these dismal times those young physicians of the present and those of the future will not forget the legacy they inherit.

The Hippocratic Oath

(A Literal Translation)

I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Health and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses, making them witnesses, that I will make complete this oath and this written covenant according to my ability and discernment:

– To regard my teacher of this art as equal to my parents and to share my livelihood (with him), and to make a contribution to him when he is in need of a debt, and to judge his offspring as equal to my brothers in manhood, and to teach this art – if they want to learn it – without wage and written covenant (to them), to make an imparting of the set of rules and lecture and all the rest of instruction to my sons and those of my teacher, and to those pupils who have been indentured and who have taken an oath according to the medical law, but to no one else.

– I will use diets for the assistance of the sick according to my ability and discernment; but also to keep away injury of health and injustice.

– I will neither give any deadly drug, having been asked for it, nor will I guide the same advice. Similarly, I will not give an abortifacient pessary to a woman. In purity and in holiness I will maintain my life and my art.

– I will not use the knife, not even on those suffering from the stone, but I will give way to those who are practitioners of this work.

– And as many houses as I may go into, I will go in for the assistance of the sick, being free from all voluntary injustice and mischief and the rest, even abstaining from sexual pleasures of both female and male persons, both free and slaves.

– That which I may see or hear during treatment, or even outside of treatment concerning the life of men, which must not in any way be divulged outside, I will not speak, regarding such things to be unutterable.

And so may it be to me making complete my oath and not making it of no effect that I enjoy the benefits of my life and art and be honored by all men for time eternal; but may it be the opposite of this to me transgressing and swearing falsely.

A Medical Legacy

“The words that the writer uses in Ancient Medicine to describe the medicine of older generations could be used today to describe Hippocratic medicine itself:”

“…..we ought not to reject the ancient art  as non-existent, or own the ground that its method of inquiry is faulty, just because it has not attained exactness in every detail. Having been able by reasoning to rise from deep ignorance to approximately perfect accuracy, I think we ought to admire the discoveries as the work, not a chance, but of inquiry rightly and correctly conducted.”

(Ancient Medicine. Jones,WHS.  Hippocrates. Volume I. With an English Translation  by WHSJ. Cambridge,MA, London: Loeb Classical Library, 1923)

“ Despite today’s advanced knowledge though, it seems that contemporary medicine can still turn to Hippocrates for inspiration and understanding. And the complexity of medical practice, which is accurately described in the first Hippocratic Aphorism, still applies to modern   healthcare professionals:”

“Life is short, the Art  long, opportunity fleeting, experience false, judgment difficult. Aphorisms4.”

(Jones,WHS.  Hippocrates. Volume I. With an English Translation  by WHSJ. Cambridge,MA, London: Loeb Classical Library, 1923)

“This timely  statement and other unchanging truths in the Hippocratic Corpus, written around the fourth century B.C. , continued to ring true today. What will remain of the medicine we practice today in 25 centuries, we wonder?”
Finally, I don’t know if any of this makes sense to you, the reader. I can only hope it does.

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