Steven Miles, MD, is Professor of Medicine and Bioethics; Maas Family Endowed Chair in Bioethics at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis. He is an Affiliate Faculty for the Law Schoolâ€™s Concentration in Health Law and Bioethics. He is board certified in Internal Medicine. He teaches bioethics at the University of Minnesota and practices internal medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center.
He has served as President of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities and received its Distinguished Service Award. Among his other awards is the National Council of Teachers of Englishâ€™ George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language.
Dr. Miles has published four books, more than twenty chapters and more than 200 medical articles on medical ethics, human rights, tropical medicine, end of life care and geriatric health care. The Hippocratic Oath and the Ethics of Medicine, Oxford University Press, reviewed the meaning of the Hippocratic Oath as illuminated by the medical texts of its time. His latest book, Oath Betrayed: Americaâ€™s Torture Doctors, (University of California Press, 2009) examines military medicine in the war on terror prisons. He maintains an archive of 60,000 pages of government documents describing this medical system in war on terror prisons.
He served as medical director for the American Refugee Committee for twenty-five years which has included service as chief medical officer for 45,000 refugees on the Thaiâ€‘Cambodian border and projects in Sudan, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzogovina, Indonesia, and the Thai-Burmese border. He is on the Board of the Center for Victims of Torture.
His work has changed health care insurance, end of life care, the use of restraints in nursing homes, refugee camp medicine, and prison medical ethics.
The Hippocratic Oath and the Ethics of Medicine
Oath Betrayed: America's Torture Doctors
Published in Summer 2007 Bioethics Examiner
Hippocratic Oath: A 2007 Vernacular Version *
by Steven Miles, MD
I swear by human grief at the mortality of our loved ones, by the family of healers, by all manner of treatments and by health itself to fulfill this oath according to my power and judgment; and to respect those who have taught me this art and to support the institutions of health education, and to esteem those who aspire to become healers as my brothers and sisters and to share the facts, theories and methods of the healing sciences with them. I will use treatments for the benefit of the ill in accordance with my ability and my judgment but from what is to their harm or injustice I will keep them. I will not commit murder nor will I assist such endeavors. I will not endanger a woman in pregnancy.
In a pure and holy way I will guard my life and my art.
To each clinical encounter, I will go for the benefit of the ill and I will refrain from unjustly treating them, especially from sexual acts with my patients or their relatives. I will remain silent about the private things that I see or hear regardless of whether I learn of them during treatment or in broader conversations, if I honor this oath and do not evade its spirit or violate it, may I enjoy the benefits of life and of this profession and be respected by all. If I transgress, the opposite be my lot.
*[This version is derived from the translation of von Staden H. J Hist Med Allied Sci 1996;51:406 and the analysis of its cultural meaning in Miles S. The Hippocratic Oath and the Ethics of Medicine, Oxford University Press, 2004. I deleted the passage, I will not cut, and certainly not those suffering from stone, but I will cede [this] to men [who are] practitioners of this activity, because it was probably inserted centuries after the 500 BC writing of the Oath.]
Web Database on Torture
United States Military Medicine in War on Terror Prisons
This is a database of 60,000 pages of government documents pertaining to medical complicity with human rights abuses in war on terror prisons.