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The Hippocratic Oath Seems Unstable, At Best

Updated on November 10, 2011

So I heard recently that an elderly woman, in Niagara Falls, ON, who had fallen to the ground in the lobby of the Greater Niagara General Hospital and had broken her hip, right there in the building was forced to wait a half hour for the paramedics to arrive.

Turns out I heard wrong. At least about the strict details of the vague, disgusting show of unethical behaviour by Niagara Falls’ General Hospital’s medical team.

The hospital’s paramedics had nothing to do with it, you see. Turns out after hospital staff, (two EMERGENCY room nurses) refused to help the woman, (elderly and laying on the floor in front of them, in a HOSPITAL, bleeding and suffering a broken hip), another staff member chose to do the right thing (ethically) and get the poor creature into a wheelchair, at least, until an ambulance from a neighbouring city arrived to deal with her.

Afterwards, it seems and I’m assuming, her situation began to take on a more logical flow of events. She’s alive, that’s a plus for her family and in particular, her son, who was present during this atrocious display of self-preference by the two ER nurses as it took place. Perhaps a thank you should go out to the staff member who took charge regardless of his or her workplace politics? Perhaps this person could be deemed a hero of sorts?

At the very least, I would hope that this person did not and will not suffer any bureaucratic political backlash from a system clearly unable to enforce the very oath that it would try to make good on.

Does the classic English translation of the Hippocratic Oath not emphasize certain concrete moral and humanistic values? And is the Hippocratic Oath not instilled into each and every authentic participant of the medical community in an attempt to prevent personal agendas by medically adept persons?

I will apply dietic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick...

When did this portion of the ‘Oath’ become relative to the occupational survival of the parties it was intended for? Was the Oath not intended to protect the sick and the dying from the personal feelings of their care takers?

Shame on the Niagara Falls General Hospital. SHAME on the two ER nurses involved in this story. I write this in the hope that both of them see the error of their ways, especially the wrong they committed on the day they let that poor, old woman become a bone of contention in their own personal fears of the very establishment they would say they support.

Life is so much more than the rules we are told to follow.


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    • fi fi profile image

      fi fi 6 years ago from Niagara, Canada

      Lone Ranger - Wow...that statistic is staggering. Thank you for visiting!

    • fi fi profile image

      fi fi 6 years ago from Niagara, Canada

      James A Watkins - As always, thanks for the insightful comment :)

    • profile image

      Lone Ranger 6 years ago

      Good read, Fi Fi, thank you!!!

      To ensure optimum health I try to stay away from hospitals and clinics if at all possible. Over 120,000 needless deaths occur every year from gross negligence and human error within the halls of our hospitals and clinics.

      Best wishes - L.R.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      This shows what the U.S. is in for if Obamacare is not repealed. I would hope that government bureaucracies never come between people and their health care needs. Thank you for a real eye-opener. Well done!

    • fi fi profile image

      fi fi 6 years ago from Niagara, Canada

      Druid Dude - Well said. And thanks :)

    • Druid Dude profile image

      Druid Dude 6 years ago from West Coast

      Hey, fifi. I agree 100% with what you say, and point out that erosion of the oath has been going on for some time. Governmental controls have only made it worse, at least on this side of the Great Lakes. Malpractice and bottom line dollar values have replaced the oath, and only the most conscientious health workers seem to really care. Voting this up.

    • fi fi profile image

      fi fi 6 years ago from Niagara, Canada

      Seeker7 - Hello, and thanks so much for the endearing comments. I also work in a Health Care environment and too was stunned at what I had read, obviously ;) It means a lot to hear your opinion on this hub as someone who devotes so much of themselves to the benefit of others. Frankly, I kind of expected some local flack for this piece from defensive health care providers...not that the behaviour displayed on that day could ever be excused. Thanks again for your visit! :)

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      This was an excellent and very well written hub but I am totally confused by the story - I say this, because as a nurse for 25 years, I have no idea what kind of policy or procedure should stop any nurse from helping someone in need! Nurses in the UK don't actually take the Hippocratic Oath, nevertheless, they are firmly bound by professional ethics stated clearly by the governing body responsible for keeping the register of all trained nurses. Within these ethics - and I would imagine Niagra is the same - there are stipulations about your duty as a nurse and also your clear duty with regards to neglect of a patient. In addition you also have a duty to report any incident of neglect by other health professionals towards a patient. So going with these ethics, the ER nurses seemed to have fallen way short of their duty as professionals. Both these nurses must have realised the severe complicatons - even death - that can arise when an elderly person sustains a fractured hip and that immediate attention is crucial.

      But putting all that aside. What about their basic duty as a human being to help a fellow human being in their time of distress, need and pain?

      Thankfully there was one nurse who did do the right thing and put their patient and their ethics before any rule book or politically correct procedure!! Great hub + voted up!