December 20, 1965


JAMA. 1965;194(12):1317-1318. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090250051018

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"A physician should be an upright man, instructed in the art of healing... modest, sober, patient, prompt to do his whole duty without anxiety; pious without going so far as superstition, conducting himself with propriety in his profession and in all the actions of his life." Thus, in less than 50 words, Hippocrates wrote the first principles of medical ethics more than three centuries before the birth of Christ. The essentials he laid down—conduct, obligation, character, and aim —are the foundations upon which the medical profession's Principles of Ethics still stand.

Medicine's pattern of morality continues on the same high plane on which it was begun. What was apparent to Hippocrates is apparent in physicians today. What is different is the physician, by reason of his cultural environment. The pyramiding fund of scientific knowledge, the increased capability of the physician, the tools at his disposal, and the economic phenomenon called

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