Tuesday, September 19, 2006

House vs. Hippocratic Oath, Medical Ethics

Dr. Eric Foreman: You are aware of the Hippocratic oath, right?
Dr. Gregory House: The one that starts, "First, do no harm", then goes on to tell us: no abortions, no seductions, and definitely no cutting of those who labor beneath the stone? Yeah, took a read once. Wasn't impressed.
-House M.D., Fox Network

Is irreverence ever truly refreshing? Is House's characteristic cynicism towards a long medical tradition salutary? Though few laymen seem to know this, the Hippocratic Oath is lapsing into desuetude, being replaced by a melange of emotivism, respect for autonomy(whatever that is), and a dubiously flimsy relativism. The sneers of House sometimes merely underscore the dismissive attitude towards traditional Christian medical ethics found in medical ethics classes, either among the professors, the students, or both.

In a world of selective scaremongering, one searches with difficulty to find polls of the medical professions' attitudes towards life, death, and the more quotidian aspects of their daily practice. Perhaps systematic studies, or media reports on such studies, are not done for fear of provoking the wrath of medical associations and their members. What would House say to that?

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