The Hippocratic Oath

Are you familiar with the Hippocratic Oath?  Named after the ancient Greek healer, Hippocrates. All doctors must take the Hippocratic Oath when they begin their practice of medicine. It goes like this:

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.

The first time that I learned about it – I was told that it could be summed by the words: “Do No Harm.”

I propose to you that all doctors practicing medicine within the corporate capitalist health industry are doing a great deal of harm to their patients and to our system.
They may be attempting to do no harm on a daily basis, but simply by virtue of being part of the system they are excluding massive amounts of people from well-deserved and oft needed health care.

Consider that the 2010 census told us that the poverty rate for Hispanics, Blacks and Whites increased dramatically from the year before, and the breadth of health coverage for these groups simultaneously decreased.  Source:

I’d be willing to bet that these numbers have further stratified since the publication of that document.

Doctors:  It is time to re-examine your values.  Do you see your patients as objects of profit or do you see them as a living, breathing human beings who deserve good health just as much as you and your children do?

Unfortunately the health industry of this country is so backwards that many doctors might have no idea how to answer this question.  Of course, they would know the answer that we might want to hear, but there’s a difference between that and the truth.

The truth as far as I can discern concerning the American health industry is this:  American’s love consuming.  We’re addicted to it.  We consume our cigarettes, fast food, booze, drugs, and oil – day in and day out.  Then when our bodies can no longer handle the shit we’re putting in them – they begin to break down.  So we go to the doctor.  But the doctor has a vested interest in our health.  The more we have to visit him, the more he gets paid.  So doctors are compelled to find plenty of things wrong with us, and propose hyper-expensive treatments lasting for years to make us well.

Compounding the problem is the billion dollar pharmaceutical industry.  I wouldn’t touch their drugs with a ten foot pole…

Hippocrates also said, “Let thy food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

I used to love fast food.  It was so convenient, cheap and familiar.  But eventually it just started tasting bad (let alone the moral problems I have with our industrial food system).  And I can tell you from my personal experience that my quality of life and the quality of my work increased dramatically when I moved  to a diet of fruits, veggies, nuts, eggs, rice and beans.

Try it for yourself for a little while and see how you feel.

Cookie Monster will tell ya…

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