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Hotline: (800) 419-4777
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.
A Voice for Private Physicians Since 1943
Omnia pro aegroto

Comparison between Oath of Hippocrates and Other Oaths

Oath of Hippocrates Other Oaths
Basis of law Universal, natural or divine law Positive law, such as the "laws of humanity" (Geneva), "Communist morality" (Soviet), "criminal purpose" (P&S), "the law" [statutes and regulations made by the state] (AMA)
To Whom Does Physician Owe Primary Loyalty? The patients he undertakes to serve Humanity (Geneva) Health of mankind; the people and the Soviet state (Soviet) "All my fellow human beings" (Lasagna) The cause of promoting a better world through a preventive approach to the problems of mankind (Weinstein) Society, other health professionals, self (AMA)
Doing Harm to a Patient Forbidden Not specifically mentioned; implicitly permitted when required for the greater good of Society and not prohibited by law
Abortion Forbidden Not specifically mentioned; limits arguably implied in Geneva only ("utmost respect for human life from its beginning")
Euthanasia Forbidden Arguably limited by implication (Geneva-see above) Implicitly permitted (Soviet) Specifically permitted, if done with "humbleness" (Lasagna) Endorsed in certain instances (as "an act of supreme love") (Weinstein) Implicity allowed where not prohibited by law (P&S, AMA)
Duty to Teachers Same as to parents, including to share one's goods with them if necessary The "respect and gratitude which is their due" (Geneva) Not mentioned (Soviet) "Respect the[ir] hard-won scientific gains" and share knowledge with those who follow (Lasagna) Be "ever grateful" to them (Weinstein) Implicity the same loyalty, justice, and generosity due other members of the Profession (P&S) Implicitly the same as to colleagues: to deal honestly with them and respect their rights (AMA)
Role of Specialists Physician will leave to specialists operations for which he is not trained (such as cutting for stone) Not specifically mentioned (Geneva, Weinstein, P&S) Refer whenever patient's interests warrant it (Soviet) Refer when "needed for a patient's recovery" (Lasagna) Refer "when indicated" (AMA)
Confidentiality "Keep secret and never reveal" anything that "ought not to be spread abroad" "Respect the secrets which are confided in me" (Geneva) "Preserve medical confidences" presumably as guided by Communist morality (Soviet) "Respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know" (Lasagna) Not mentioned (Weinstein) Keep "inviolably secret" (P&S) "Safeguard patient confidences within the constraints of the law" (AMA)
Standard of Care Prescribing "regimen for the good of my patients according to my ability and judgment" To relate to the patient "attentively and carefully" (Soviet) Application of "all measures that are required" (Lasagna) "Best interest of my patient," in the context of "a preventive approach to the problems of mankind" (Weinstein) Implicitly that which is "competent," "appropriate," and within the constraints of the law (AMA)
Rewards for Keeping Oath Enjoyment of life and work; respect None mentioned (Geneva, Soviet, Weinstein, AMA) Enjoyment of life and art, and respect (Lasagna, P&S)
Punishment for Violating Oath Shame, disrepute; opposite of above None mentioned (Geneva, Soviet, Lasagna, AMA) Opposite of rewards (P&S)
General Moral Principles "Preserve the purity of my life and my art," refraining from all intentional ill-doing and "all seduction" Practice profession with conscience, honor, and dignity; not allow politics, race, etc., to interfere with duty (Geneva) Adhere to Communist morality (Soviet) Remember obligations to Society (Lasagna) Strive to be a person of "good will, high moral character, and impeccable conduct" (Weinstein) Refrain from corruption or tempting others to vice (P&S) Respect the law but "seek changes in requirements that are contrary to the best interests of the patient"; deal honestly with patients and colleagues; strive to expose defective or dishonest colleagues (AMA)
Role of Prevention Not specifically mentioned Not specifically mentioned (Geneva, P&S) "Preservation and improvement of health of mankind" mentioned before the "treatment and prevention of disease"; physicians also have the duty to "struggle tirelessly for peace and for the prevention of nuclear war" (Soviet) "Prevention is preferable to cure" and claims of the healthy are on par with those of the sick (Lasagna) "Preserving health is as important as treating disease," and physician must expand thinking and practice to encompass a "preventive approach to the problems of mankind," including social ills (Weinstein)