Week 4- On the Hippocratic Oath by Kimberlie Shiao

Dr. Louis Lasagna’s modern rendition of the Hippocratic Oath is markedly different from the original in that his 1964 version emphasizes empathy. Lasagna’s version also specifically mentions humility, moderation, and privacy, leaving out Hippocrates’s specific mentions of abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment. Is this good or is this bad? It could be easy to jump to the conclusion that Dr. Lasagna’s oath is more ethically flexible, and thus not holding doctors to actual moral standards. But I think it shows a proper humility that many perceive lacking in science, and it also acknowledges a more secular and open minded nature of a modern world that is growing increasingly larger. The added value- most noticeably privacy- also reflects a modern day value but also is perhaps the influence of the art world. Emotional arguments for values like medical privacy are often seen in art; the movie Gattaca that we watched in class showed how unsettling lack of DNA privacy could be in a futuristic world centered around eugenics. I think that the reason that privacy was added to Dr. Lasagna’s oath was the same reason abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment were taken out. Arguments from places such as journalism and literature have made us question which values we should prioritize over others. Thus, I think that Dr. Lasagna’s oath is quite is a very fitting modification; it calls on the more emotional side, to remember not only training and ethics, but compassion, humility, the community, and the individual. Although personally I feel the oath is a little loftily idealistic for a doctor to strictly adhere to (mainly in terms of empathy), I also feel it presents a good goal of what a doctor should hope to achieve with his career and life.

-Kimberlie Shiao

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