TASK 5 – The Hippocratic Oath

Find or create a translation of the Hippocratic Oath in your native language. Discuss about its meaning in Contemporary Medicine. A relative task will take place during the meeting.


The danish version of the Hippocratic Oath: 

Efter at have aflagt offentlig prøve på mine i de medicinsk-kirurgiske fag erhvervede kundskaber, aflægger jeg herved det løfte, til hvis opfyldelse jeg end ydermere ved håndsrækning har forpligtet mig, at jeg ved mine forretninger som praktiserende læge stedse skal lade det være mig magtpåliggende, efter bedste skønnende at anvende mine kundskaber med flid og omhu til samfundets og mine medmenneskers gavn, at jeg stedse vil bære lige samvittighedsfuld omsorg for den fattige som for den rige uden persons anseelse, at jeg ikke ubeføjet vil åbenbare, hvad jeg i min egenskab af læge har erfaret, at jeg vil søge mine kundskaber fremdeles udvidede og i øvrigt gøre mig bekendt med og nøje efterleve de mig og mit fag vedkommende anordninger og bestemmelser.


The Danish Hippocratic Oath translated into English: 

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 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 oath was introduced at the University of Copenhagen in 1815 and the wording was created by Johan Daniel Helholdt. The wording has not changed since.

There are no legal obligations arising from the taking of this oath. The doctor's promise only formulates ethical obligations that one assumes upon entering the medical profession.

The Hippocratic oath (the doctor's oath) is one of the oldest binding documents in history. Written in antiquity, its principles are held sacred by physicians to this day: treat the sick to best abillity, preserve the patient's privacy, pass on the secrets of medicine to the next generation, etc. The medical promise has remained in Western civilization as an expression of ideal medical behavior. Today, most graduate med students swear by medicine with some form of oath, usually a modernized version.

Although the oath is still used today, it has changed a lot from the original version. for example, only some examples prohibit active euthanasia and abortion. The original calls for free education for medical students, and that doctors never "use the knife" (ie perform surgical procedures) - both are clearly out of step with today's practice. Perhaps the most controversial thing about the original oath is that it demands the "opposite" of joy and fame for those who take the oath, therefore fewer than half of the oaths taken today insist that the person responsible be held accountable for keeping the promise.


In fact, a growing number of physicians have come to feel that the medical promise is insufficient to tackle the realities of a medical world that has witnessed enormous scientific, economic, political, and social changes, a world of legalized abortion and physician-assisted suicide. Some doctors have begun to ask pointed questions about the relevance of the oath: Should doctors with such different stripes swear by a single oath in an environment of increasing medical specialization? With governments and healthcare organizations demanding patient information like never before, how can a physician preserve a patient's privacy? Are doctors morally obligated to treat patients with such deadly new diseases as AIDS or Ebolavirus?