On Hippocrates

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7362.496/a (Published 31 August 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:496

Hippocratic ideals are alive and well in 21st century

  1. Edward Roddy, specialist registrar in rheumatology (edroddy@doctors.org.uk),
  2. Elin Jones, research registrar in respiratory epidemiology (elin.jones@Nottingham.ac.uk)
  1. Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, Derby DE1 2QY
  2. Nottingham City Hospital, Nottingham NG5 1PB
  3. 33 Park Gate Drive, Edison, NJ 08820, USA

    E—Loefler regards the Hippocratic ethics as taking no account of modern medicine and that craving for the simplicity of Hippocratic medicine is pointless nostalgia.1 We argue that his article takes a simplified view of the application of the Hippocratic ideals to modern medicine and that these are as relevant today as they were in the 4th century BC.

    At the very centre of the Hippocratic ideals are the principles of “doing no harm” and “absolute regard for life.” Loefler argues that harm is an inevitable consequence of the powerful array of interventions available to the modern doctor. Although many investigations and interventions have potential adverse effects and complications, it is the balance of potential benefit and harm of each intervention that is the most important consideration. If overall benefits outweigh potential complications, this Hippocratic ideal is still respected. …

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