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The Hippocratic oath and the terminally ill
The Hippocratic oath and the terminally ill

The Hippocratic oath, a roughly 2,000-year-old text with only marginal relevance to medicine today, continues to have an outsize influence on us. The oath's language and many of its concepts are more archaic than a washboard. A modern surgeon is not going to swear by Apollo. Nor is he going to teach "without reward" or pledge to comport himself "in a godly manner." Most of the Hippocratic oath has been revised over centuries. Today, it is most often cited as a single phrase, "First do no harm," though those words were not contained in the oath as written by Hippocrates. The closest he gets: "With regard to healing the sick, I will devise and...

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