Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Hippocratic Oath Definition:

An oath of professional conduct sworn by physicians at the commencement of their career.
The Hippocratic Oath was first conceived during the fifth century B.C.


The Oath is raised in legal proceedings in the context of doctor-patient confidentiality and in the rare cases of sexual abuise of a patient by a doctor.

According to Dorland's Medical Dictionary, the original Oath:

"I swear by Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath:

"To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art if they so desire without fee or written promise; to impart to my sons and the sons of the masterwho taught me and the disciples who have enrolled themselves and who have agreed to the rules of the profession, but to these alone, the precepts and the instruction;

"I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone. To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug, nor give advice which may cause his death. Nor will I give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion. But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts. I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners (specialists in this art).

"In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.

"All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.

"If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot."


  • Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 28th Edition (London: W.B. Saunders Company, 1994), page 768.
  • P. v. Whitecourt General Hospital, 92 Alta. L.R. (3d) 321 (2001)

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