Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Ethics Man

Medicine’s solemn moments

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 10 August 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4380
  1. Daniel Sokol, barrister and medical ethicist
  1. 12 King’s Bench Walk, London, UK
  1. Sokol{at}

More common than we think

Not so long ago, at the start of a trial I took part in, the opposing barrister was ruffling through his papers while my witness was swearing the oath: “I swear by almighty God that I will tell the truth [ruffling of papers] . . . the whole truth [more ruffling] . . .” At this point the judge, with a frown, told my opponent to stop at once.

I was surprised by this judicial rebuke. Many barristers, for whom the court procedure has become second nature, pay little attention during the swearing of the …

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