Modern Medical Ethics and the Legacy of Hippocrates

  • Theodoros D Mountokalakis University of Athens Medical School, Athens, Greece
Keywords: beneficence, confidentiality, Hippocratic Oath, medical ethics, shared decision making


The most enduring guideline for medical ethics in the history of medicine is the Hippocratic Oath. Four of the six core values currently recognized in medical ethics (beneficence, non-maleficence, justice, and confidentiality), are in accordance with ideas codified in the Hippocratic Oath or in the Hippocrates work, in general. With the passing of the years, however, new ethics created by the society added new values, such as autonomy and respect, to values proposed by Hippocrates. On the other hand, certain social ethics, predominating in various countries, are in marked contrast to Hippocratic principles. The most significant of them are the issues of aid in suicide and of abortion. Regardless the rules of conduct prevailing in a given society, the primary task of a physician is to provide competent medical care, with compassion and respect for human dignity and rights, a principle in accordance with the Hippocratic motto “επ’ ωφελείη καμνόντων ("for the benefit of patients").

Author Biography

Theodoros D Mountokalakis, University of Athens Medical School, Athens, Greece
Specialty: IM