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Medical commencement oaths: shards of a fractured myth, or seeds of hope against a dispiriting future?

Edmund D Pellegrino
Med J Aust 2002; 176 (3): 99.
Published online: 4 February 2002

The Hippocratic Oath has been in a parlous state, especially in the past three decades, since the rise of contemporary bioethics. Ethicists, historians, feminists, and patients' rights activists have all, for one reason or another, disparaged it. The Oath has been called outmoded, an instrument of gender discrimination, a device for professional monopoly, out of tune with societal mores, and inadequate to meet the moral demands of modern medical practice. Critics seem to agree that the Oath must be revised, replaced by a new ethic or left to physician and patient to decide for themselves.

  • Edmund D Pellegrino

  • Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington DC, USA 20007.

Correspondence: jtm6@georgetown.edu

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