The Fauci “Hypocritic” Oath
by Andy Joppa
“Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing”.
The Hippocratic Oath is an oath of ethics historically taken by physicians and is equally “binding” on all those in any aspect of the medical profession. Its major precept has always been, “First do no harm. In Latin it was primum non nocere. Another way to state it is, “Given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or even to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good.” It reminds healthcare personnel to consider the possible harm that any intervention might do. It is invoked when debating the use of an intervention that carries an obvious risk of harm but a less certain chance of benefit.
This admonition should have guided, or at least limited, Dr. Anthony Fauci…but it seemed to be scarcely considered, much less acted on. He often acted the role of the politician rather than the physician or even the scientist. He couldn’t help but be aware that his input caused widescale dislocation in all areas of American life. A doctor…or a scientist …should have been more holistic in their analysis and approach.
Speaking for myself, I can find no benefit derived from the fluctuating irregularities of the Fauci input. He proved to be little more than an unearned reputation without any substance. His directives ranged from those available in any textbook on epidemiology, to suggesting extreme measures that had no place in a free society. I would suggest that if Fauci had not been part of the solution, that in itself, would have been his most useful contribution.
Once again, I might be wrong, but Fauci at best, contributed nothing of value, and at worst he has been a contaminant deepening the nature of the problem. He “successfully” negotiated a mid-range virus into what might be a death sentence for an entire society. We continue to confuse a good “bedside manner” with true medical and societal value.
The applied Hippocratic Oath would have been of value. It has been modified numerous times over the years to have it reflect the modern era in which medical decisions had to be made. I will deal with a few of the ethical provisions in that revised Oath; revisions that should have guided Fauci, and we will assess how he stands up to its ethical requirements.
Fauci’s most obvious failure occurred in the provision that states, “I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.” While he has offered universal statements of, ‘I don’t know everything,” he has always “known” when prodded about any specific issue. It is obvious that for the entire duration of the COVID-19 pandemic Fauci should have simply said, “I don’t know” …but he never did.
He has been consistently wrong with his predictions and his assessments of future implication. It is, in retrospect, obvious that in many cases, he just didn’t know. For reasons of either professional ego or the loss of power and influence that would have resulted, he never admitted…he just didn’t know. It has been those moments when Fauci should have been silent, that he filled the airways and the American minds with tales of pending horror and doom unless ‘The Fauci Way” was implemented.
Within the second provision of “calling in colleagues”, Fauci has never introduced competing views of the appropriate actions to be taken during a pandemic. He accepted a role that he was never given…that is, that he was the final arbiter of all decisions pertaining to COVID-19. The actions eventually chosen should have been weighed within the vast potential of competing alternatives.
Another provision of the Hippocratic Oath where Fauci was found wanting is where it says, “I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.”
Therapeutic nihilism is a contention that it is impossible to cure people or societies of their ills through treatment. In medicine, it was connected to the idea that many “cures” do more harm than good, and that one. should instead encourage the body to heal itself. Human herd immunity falls within that consideration. It was ignored or rejected out of hand and yet it should have been the first consideration for action…” encouraging the body to heal itself.”
Fauci once again was lacking in the provision that states, “I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.” Fauci saw himself as a technician and never expanded his role to include the requirement of “understanding,” as his suggested actions created dire implications for Americans who were sheltered in place. He was given the spotlight and he had the obligation to be aware of how every thought he uttered would produce almost immediate impact on millions of his fellow citizens.
In many ways Fauci’s most significant failure to fulfill his Oath was he was not bound by the ethic that stated, “I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems if I am to care adequately for the sick.” No case can be made that Fauci showed the slightest concern for the “person’s family and economic stability,” The resulting damage from that failure has been, and will remain, enormous.
The Hippocratic Oath concludes with a non-specific but demanding provision… “Above all, I must not play at God.” Perhaps it is just my perception, but whenever I saw this bantam rooster strut on stage, I always felt they should have been playing the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
For one man to gain the power to potentially bring down the greatest nation in the history of the world, certainly was “god-like” in its implications, as was the power that Fauci had over the lives of 300 million Americans. His role demanded infinitely more humility and commitment to the Hippocratic Oath.