Neil J. Smelser, PhD
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Smelser NJ. Charter on Medical Professionalism: Putting the Charter into Practice. Ann Intern Med. 2003;138:853. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-138-10-200305200-00026
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2003;138(10):853.
It is entirely appropriate for Drs. Lippi, Gensini, and Conti to highlight the Hippocratic Oath, since the members of the Medical Professionalism Project referred to it only briefly in the preamble to the physician charter. It is also important for us to clarify the role that the Oath played in our thinking. We consider the Hippocratic Oath to have much more than ritual significance, as implied by the authors' use of the terms respectability and group solidarity. We believe, on the contrary, that the Oath does represent the “ethics … currently common to physicians.” However, it does so in such a general way that, while universally relevant, it provides few guidelines for applicability in historically diverse situations and within contemporary contexts. We regarded a part of our task to be the specification of guidelines that are both consistent with the substance of the Hippocratic Oath and relevant to the realities of the medical world as it confronts us at the beginning of the 21st century.
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