The ancient Hippocratic oath that every doctor pledges upon graduation from medical school is a code based on genuine devotion to people and a desire to serve them. It is also a code in urgent need of updating to reflect the technological and moral changes of modern society and the complicated dilemmas facing every practicing physician.
This collection of essays by some of the wisest observers of modern medicine probes the various forces affecting health care today: the power of the new technology in diagnosing and treating illnesses, the growing appreciation of mind/body interactions, the emergence of corporate hospitals and health care centers, and, most importantly, the essence of physicianhood—what makes a doctor want to practice medicine.
In considering these issues, the essayists question whether the medical-industrial complex will destroy physicians as we know them, making doctors employees of large profit-making institutions and more responsible to their companies than to their patients. Will increasing versatility in technological medicine remove doctors even further from the patient's bedside, weakening the diminishing bond between patient and doctor? Are there points of contact between western "scientific" medicine and holistic practices? Is there a place in modern medicine for work therapy and the placebo effect?
Each of these issues prevalent in medicine today has, in its own particular way, an effect upon the core relationship between doctor and patient. In Search of the Modern Hippocrates is dedicated to the premise that current changes in medicine can produce an altered and strengthened medical profession resolved to preserve the inextricable link between commitment and care. Ending with the development of a modern oath of ethics, it provides an important guide to medicine in the complex world we now face.