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Hippocrates wrote an oath for Physicians circa 350-370 BC. Medicine in those times was considered a holy service meant to heal the sick and not a profession. With time medicine became a profession and monetary benefit for the work done became an accepted norm. Doctors came under normal laws of the land. The application of the Consumer Protection Acts to Medicare redefined the status of doctors to ordinary vendors/service providers and their demi-god status was taken away. Patients were no longer patients but consumers.
Of late, doctors are being labeled as criminals, cheats, swindlers and what not. Doctors are on media trial almost daily for botched up surgeries, financial frauds, seeking commissions/incentives from drug companies/labs and misconduct, amongst other things. The reputation pendulum of doctors has swung from being good-doers to evil devils.
It is time we introspect our current status in society. Are we in social service or are we business professionals? In case our role is service of the humanity, why are governments shifting healthcare services to the private sector? Why are doctors not trained and looked after by the government? Why is medical education so expensive?
In case we are business professional, why does the society expect us to perform social service? Why are doctors penalized in case a complication occurs while treating a patient, but no other professional is? All professions have some bad sheep but that does not mean all are the same. Most doctors follow the ethical standards they are expected to follow. Some don’t! One should reason why they don’t! Is there some pressure on them from their employers to over reach and cheat? Do they have some business targets to meet? Or is it the general influence of the society, which is rife with corruption?
Most medical councils require qualified doctors to undertake the Hippocratic oath before being allowed to practice medicine. The oath burdens them with a social and ethical responsibility. Seeking monetary benefit is against the clause enshrined in the Hippocrates oath on maintaining conscience and dignity. The relevance of the Hippocratic oath is today’s world is questionable. The society needs to clear this confused status of doctors! Why this hypocrisy about the Hippocratic oath!
The society must decide whether the doctors must take the Hippocratic oath or just be professionals!