Free To Choose 1980 – Who Protects the Worker?– Hippocrates

Free To Choose 1980 – Who Protects the Worker?– Hippocrates


From the tiny Greek island of Cos, the coast of Asia Minor is four miles away in the mist. Twenty-five-hundred years ago a hospital and medical school flourished on Cos. The great Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine, worked there. Legend has it that Hippocrates taught his students in the shade of this plain tree. He welcomed anyone who wanted to learn, so long as they paid his fee. There is another legend that St. Paul stood here and preached the gospel of Christianity. What isn’t legend is that Hippocrates and his followers started medicine on the road forward to becoming a science. When Hippocrates died at the age of 104, or so legend has it, this island was full of medical people, his students and disciples. Competition for custom was fierce. Some 20 years after he died they got together and constructed a code of conduct. They named it the Hippocratic Oath, after their old teacher and master. Every new physician, before he could start practice, came to this spot back here in front of those columns and took the Oath. The oath was full of fine ideals for protecting the patient. But it also had a couple of other things in it. Listen to this one, “I will impart a knowledge of the art to my own sons, and those of my teachers and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others.” Today we’d call that a closed shop. Or listen to this one referring to patients suffering from the agonizing disease of kidney or bladder stones: “I will not cut persons laboring under the stone but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work.” A nice market-sharing agreement between physicians and surgeons. Hippocrates must turn in his grave when a new class of medical men takes that oath. After all, he taught anyone, provided only they pay his tuition.

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