Relevance of the Hippocratic Oath

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Philosophy ・APA ・2 Sources

Hippocrates was a Greek scientist known as the "Father of Medicine" because his teachings supported science while disputing supernatural, mystical, and superstitious beliefs. He got to the conclusion that sickness was a natural process after conducting numerous trials and collecting data (Birden et al., 2014). Because diseases are caused by natural bodily reactions, physicians' responsibility is to help the body resist illnesses by correcting any metabolic imbalances and harmonizing an organism's body. Although Hippocrates' argument that physicians cannot tamper with the body's natural healing is still relevant today, it is not entirely correct.

Diseases are classified in modern medicine by their symptoms and characteristics.Hippocrates' concept consisted of four humors such as blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile, which must be in balance for someone to be healthy (Birden et al., 2014). However, modern medicine diagnoses rely on information from patients and lab tests, use of modern technology, as well as microscopic analysis of tissues and cultures. The germ theory of disease is important in today's medicine as many diseases are associated with microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. It has enabled development of vaccines and pills to fight diseases.

Hippocrates medicine focused mostly on prognosis instead of diagnosis thus physicians relied on statistical data instead of discovering the exact patients' problem. In addition, the healing power of nature and proper patients' care mattered most in Hippocrates' school of thought. He emphasised on natural healing and the doctor's role was to facilitate process of recovery by recommending proper nutrition, ensuring high level of cleanliness, and recommending sufficient rest (Birden et al., 2014). However, such treatment can only be effective for minor illnesses and faced criticism from modern doctors who emphasized more on diagnostics. Today, several machines have been invented to aid in diagnosis and treatment of various illnesses. For instance, X-rays, Ultrasound, and Magnetic resonance are vital in diagnosing medical conditions affecting body organs and injuries before treatment can be initiated. Modern medicine involves surgeries, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and physiotherapy among others. Doctors and other medical practitioners intervene through treatment as opposed to the teachings of Hippocrates.

However, his teachings are very important in promoting ethical values among medical practitioners while at work. The Hypocritical Oath defines patient-doctor relationship especially confidentiality of patient's information (Kantarjian & Steensma, 2014). Today, doctors must ensure their working environment is clean, they must be honest, and take detailed notes of symptoms such as pulse rate, fever, and excretions. Family history and environment are also important in understanding the situation facing patients as recommended by Hippocrates. Other applicable Hippocratic tactics include his methods of haemorrhoids treatment, pulmonary medicine, and surgery. For instance, he drained chest abscess using lead pipes, a method that is still in use today (Birden et al., 2014). Hippocrates has credit for arguing that diseases occur naturally and are not caused by gods as people used to believe. Environmental factors, poor nutrition, and lifestyle cause diseases. Modern medicine is based on this belief, which has facilitated great research on causes and treatment of various diseases.

Modern medicine applies some principles introduced by Hippocrates, which separated medicine from religion enabling studies on diseases, potential cures, and other remedies. Professionalism in the medical industry and the ethical standards when dealing with patients originated from his ideology. Hippocrates medicine is greatly practiced in modern medicine although some aspects such as natural healing have been disputed.


Birden, H., Glass, N., Wilson, I., Harrison, M., Usherwood, T., & Nass, D. (2014). Defining Professionalism in Medical Education: A Systematic Review. Medical teacher, 36(1), 47-61.

Kantarjian, H., & Steensma, D. (2014). Relevance of the Hippocratic Oath in the 21st Century. The ASCO Post, 5(16), 104-105.

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