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A Hippocratic Oath for the 21st Century


Do we really need a Hippocratic oath in the 21st Century? Didn’t this become irrelevant years ago? Do medical schools still use the oath?


New research from the University of Chester, published in the BMC Journal Research Notes ina paper by Professor Ben Green, (, the Director of the Institute of Medicine in Chester and Shrewsbury, reveals that 70% of UK medical school still require their students to swear the Hippocratic Oath. Most feel that taking the Oath marks a transition from student to doctor and underpins ethical thinking that protects the general public from medical malpractice. Some schools though do not sue the Oath relying on their doctors just not doing anything to infringe the professional code of the General Medical Council, i.e. meet the basic requirement for doctors to practice in the UK.


The research also looks at the variants of the Hippocratic Oath used in the UK today and notes that some variants do not meet all the 4 bioethical principles – these are principles like those concepts underlying autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and social justice.


The paper notes that the Oath must continue to develop to meet the ever-changing demands of today’s society.


The paper proposes a variant of the Hippocratic Oath for the 21st century, which is as follows:


21st Century Hippocratic Oath


"I declare that, as a foundation of my actions, I will practise my profession to the best of my knowledge, ability and insight, in good conscience and with probity, treating all people equally and fairly, without prejudice.
I will always remember my position of power and trust, and hold myself accountable for my actions and their consequences, eschewing recklessness.
I will respect the autonomy, confidences and dignity of all my patients in their living and in their dying.
In my practice the care and treatment of patients will be my first consideration. I will always seek to improve and maintain my patients’ health and strive to cause no deliberate or negligent harm to my patients or others.
I will strive to prevent and treat disease, improve quality of life, provide support in times of suffering and promote and protect the health and wellbeing of the communities that I live and work in.
I will treat my colleagues and all who contribute to the well being of my patients with respect.
I will continue to seek knowledge, understanding, and insight, to improve my clinical skills and to teach the art and science of medicine to others, as my teachers have done before me.
I will not breach these obligations, or abuse the trust placed in me, either under threat or for personal gain.
I make this declaration solemnly, freely, and in good faith.”


21st Century Hippocratic Oath Reference

Green, B. Use of the Hippocratic or other professional oaths in UK medical schools in 2017: practice, perception of benefit and principlism. BMC Res Notes (2017) 10:777



Hippocratic Oath Copyright © Priory Lodge Education Ltd. 2018-

First Published January 9th 2018

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