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Compliance In Focus
Posted by Shawn Kennedy on Thu, Feb 6, 2014

The Hippocratic Oath – 500 BC

Hippocratic OathYou may be familiar with IMARC Research’s History of Clinical Research (HCR).  We recently released an eBook about it that briefly describes all of the images that currently make up the timeline.  If you have visited our office, you may have also been given a guided tour of one of our most renowned resources.  Due to the overwhelmingly positive feedback we have received, we will be highlighting each time point with a series of blogs that we plan to release over the course of the 2014 calendar year.

The first image on our timeline is the silhouette of Hippocrates’ bust, with the words of the Hippocratic Oath embedded within the silhouette.  Hippocrates was a Greek physician born in 460 BC.  His views on medicine were in stark contrast to popularly held beliefs of the time that illnesses and ailments had religious causes.  Instead, Hippocrates advanced the notion that disease was actually the product of environmental factors such as diet and living habits.  He is said to have served a 20 year prison sentence for standing by these convictions, during which time he crafted many of his theories and works in the medical field.  For this reason, he has been described as the “Father of Medicine.”

Hippocrates was chosen to be included in the HCR for his contributions to medicine, and for the Hippocratic Oath for which he is credited.  It is actually unclear based on recorded history from so long ago whether or not Hippocrates wrote it himself, or if one of his successors wrote it based on his theories and teachings.  Regardless, it represents the earliest notion of the practice of medicine in a just and ethic manner.  This is still relevant today, as medical students still recite a version of the Hippocratic Oath when they graduate.  The concept of ethical medical practice is one that dominates the current zeitgeist of clinical research practice, as can be seen in the Declaration of Helsinki and Belmont Report.  It’s a concept that we take very seriously at IMARC, as we always make patient protection our number one priority as we assist with the clinical research process.

Here is the modern version of the Hippocratic Oath taken by graduating medical students:

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.

I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

We look forward to your feedback on the timeline.  Please continue to share your thoughts and ideas with us.

Image Credit: Nicolette Atelier

The History of Clinical Research Timeline

Topics: History of Clinical Research, The Hippocratic Oath, IMARC Research

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