Should all healthcare workers take the Hippocratic Oath?

Madeline Ashley – Becker’s Hospital Review

As private equity expands across the healthcare industry and proper patient care is brought into question, Don Berwick, MD, a Harvard Medical School health policy lecturer in Boston and former CMS administrator during the Obama administration, called for an extended Hippocratic Oath for all who work in healthcare.

During an April 3 senate hearing in Boston, titled, “When Health Care Becomes Wealth Care: How Corporate Greed Puts Patient Care and Health Workers at Risk,” Dr. Berwick spoke passionately about how patient needs have been put on the backburner, but should be the No. 1 priority in healthcare.

“That principle, the needs of the patient come first, should apply to and be enforced by law in every single agent in the world of care,” Dr. Berwick said during the hearing. “Not just clinicians but also organizations, payers, entrepreneurs and investors. At the moment we are dropping that ball.”

To address this, Dr. Berwick suggested that the Hippocratic Oath, an ethical code historically sworn on by providers, be adopted by all who touch healthcare.

“I took oaths as a physician and I believe those oaths should extend, by law, to organizations and investors who want to get involved in healthcare,” Dr. Berwick said. “The needs of the patient have to come first.”

Dr. Berwick’s ideation of industrywide adopted oaths garnered support from Pedja Stojicic, MD, a faculty member at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, calling it “a brilliant idea.”

“It would allow us to hold everyone within the healthcare system accountable for the care that is needed and provided,” Dr. Stojicic said in a LinkedIn post. “Unless insurers, providers, administrators, and clinicians align on values, we will never be able to create a just healthcare system.”

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