Indian Journal of Pathology and Microbiology
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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 55  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 279-282

The Hippocratic oath: A comparative analysis of the ancient text's relevance to American and Indian modern medicine

1 Professor of Pathology, B.J. Medical College (Retired), Ahmedabad, India
2 University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA

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Khushboo N Jhala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Hippocrates (460-375 B.C.), an ancient Greek physician considered the "Father of Medicine," constructed the groundwork for the principles of ethics in medicine over 2,500 years ago in his establishment of the Hippocratic Oath. One of the oldest binding documents in history, the text has remained the ethical template for physicians to this day. The changing cultural and social environment of modern society, accompanied by the advancement in scientific knowledge and therapeutic tools, has surfaced the need to reframe ethical perspective in modern medicine. Progress in aspects such as organ transplantation, stem cell technology, and genetic engineering has welcomed a new set of ethical dilemmas. These dilemmas have become intimately intertwined with the impact of commercialization, as seen by the interplay between legislation, health care, and pharmaceutical businesses. This paper seeks to dissect the principles of the original Hippocratic Oath and analyze the template in relation to the ethical dilemmas presented by contemporary medicine. Examination will provide a deeper understanding of the paradigm shift in modern medical ethics. Both the value of the Oath and the level of awareness of modern ethical dilemmas through the lens of American and Indian medical graduates will be assessed.

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