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What exactly is the Hippocratic Oath, and how can I use it to prove my Missouri medical malpractice lawsuit?

Many people think of the Hippocratic Oath as a carefully worded legal oath binding new physicians to a specific code of ethics. That's not exactly true. 

The Hippocratic Oath dates back to the Fifth Century BCE and is so outdated that few schools actually use the original wording. Those who do use it do so merely as a ceremonial gesture.

Most new physicians take some modified version of the oath. The most famous modification was the Declaration of Geneva in the 1940s. Both the original Hippocratic Oath and the Declaration of Geneva have some common themes:

  • Respect the teacher and other doctors
  • Respect the patient's privacy
  • Respect all life, regardless of age, ethnicity, etc.
  • Work for the good of the patient
  • Do not harm the patient
  • Use skills wisely, to the best of one's ability and with good judgment

Typically, the wording of these oaths is so vague that they don't do much good in court. There is no list of specific actions that constitute medical malpractice in Missouri.

A skilled Missouri medical malpractice lawyer will try to prove that the doctor neglected to provide you with an adequate “standard of care.” This too is a general statement referring to a doctor's responsibility to provide for a patient's medical needs as best as possible. 

In court, this usually refers to the caution the doctor took (or didn't take) to ensure the patient's health. If another doctor in a similar situation would have reasonably made the same decision, then malpractice was not evident.

Confused yet? It's a rather vague, confusing notion to handle. That's why it's to your benefit to consult with an experienced lawyer. To see if you have a case, call Alvin Wolff at 314-241-2500.

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