Oath of Maimonides
At its core, the Hippocratic Oath calls on physicians to do no harm to their patients. This is a a fundamental value that has been practiced for generations. With time, the oath has evolved, and with it, so too have the physicians themselves and the practice of medicine.
The modern oath considers a variety of values – the knowledge from science’s past, understanding the art of medicine, physicians knowing their limitations, and that physicians have a “special obligation” to our fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
But, the Hippocratic Oath misses something that the Oath of Maimonides – a revised Judaic version – addresses which is “knowledge is immense…Today [patients] can discover [their] errors of yesterday, and tomorrow [they] can obtain a new light on what [they think of themselves] sure of today.”
We live in a time where both physicians and patients are bombarded with new, innovative forums, perspectives, opinions, and practices in health and medicine. Physicians should stay ahead of the curve and absorb information, understand it, and utilize it. But one cannot control what is disseminated or used by patients. Let’s be honest – the days when we thought physicians had all the information, are long gone. Yes, we are trained in the arts and sciences of medicine, but we are beginning to evolve and understand that the powers of Dr. Google and Professor Wiki can, at times, overwhelm us, let alone our patients.
Knowledge is power, but being overwhelmed with knowledge can be frustrating, annoying and confusing.
This is why patient advocacy is critical. At this moment in time, the availability of information is incredible. Much like their health providers, patients should absorb and utilize the information that is afforded to them; but deciphering that information is challenging. Trusting your health experts to help be a guide and confidant in understanding this information is the role of a patient. Meanwhile, practitioners such as myself should be prepared for the variety of mediums from which patients gather information and be willing to learn from them and best advocate for our patients, and their mental and physical well being.
So I’m raising my hand and adding that I’ll try to best of my ability to inform and empower my readers and patients with the necessary and clear information so you can learn and decide what’s best for you and your family.