World Medical Association Revamps Modern-Day Hippocratic Oath

The association's Declaration of Geneva was adopted 70 years ago as a modern version of the ancient Greek oath for physicians. At its recent General Assembly meeting, WMA substantially revised the declaration to reflect major changes in medical practice.

The Hippocratic Oath goes back thousands of years, but even that bedrock Greek medical pledge occasionally needs an update.

In October, the World Medical Association (WMA) quietly revamped of the Declaration of Geneva, the modern-day version of the Greek oath, which was first adopted in 1948. The group reviews the declaration about once a decade, but the current update represents the largest revision of the text in nearly 70 years, AMA Wire reported.

The changes include principles to better govern the relationships between physicians and the people they work with, including teachers and students; language that reinforces respect for patient dignity; and a provision encouraging physicians to focus on their own health as well as their patients’.

Last year, WMA assembled a working group to consider updates to the declaration—now titled “The Physician’s Pledge.”

“Given the crucial nature of this document, the assigned workgroup charted a generous timeline of nearly two years to allow ample opportunity to gather feedback and suggestions not only from member national medical associations, but also from external experts,” Ramin Walter Parsa-Parsi, M.D., of the German Medical Association, wrote in an article on The JAMA Network. “The goal in doing so was to ensure that the revision was as transparent and collaborative an effort as possible.”

The changes “have enabled this pivotal document to more accurately reflect the challenges and needs of the modern medical profession,” he wrote.

WMA President Yoshitake Yokokura, M.D., of Japan, said the revised declaration—very brief, at just over 200 words—“will be used by all physicians around the world to strengthen the profession’s determination to maintain the highest standard of healthcare for patients.”

(Catalin205/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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