Physicians have long been members of a special moral community. They have sworn to uphold ethical principles that, in the case of the Hippocratic oath, date back to the fourth century BC.
Several proclamations that undergird the medical profession speak to the primacy of equality. The “Prayer of Maimonides,”1,2 which first appeared in print in 1783 and is recited by many new medical graduates,3 asks God to preserve the strength of the physician's body and soul so that “they ever be ready to cheerfully help and support rich and poor, good and bad, enemy as well as friend. In the sufferer let me see only the human being.”1
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