The modern version of the Hippocratic Oath requires doctors to swear that they will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures that are required, avoiding the twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism. This paper explores the magnitude of the problem of overtreatment and undertreatment and the potential sources of these treatment errors. Conclusions: Doctors are at risk of falling into the twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism. Further research should explore how to avoid these traps, but it may require deliberate reflection on problems to be solved to counteract the influence of factors that are beyond the patient’s problem.

 

Sílvia Mamede* & Henk G Schmidt