Hippocrates once said: "Life is short, the Art long, opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgment difficult." On this fiftieth anniversary of the Doctors' Trial, which charged Nazi physicians with "crimes against humanity" and violations of Hippocratic ethics in the conduct of human experimentation, I want to begin with Hippocrates' observation that to "experiment [is] treacherous." Being aware of medicine's limited ability to cure and, thus, the temptation to resort to dangerous, heroic measures, Hippocrates admonished his fellow physicians, "[a]s to diseases, make a habit of two things-to help, or at least to do no harm." Hippocrates was not opposed to human experimentation in the practice of medicine, but in his day physicians 'experimented primarily to benefit individual patients, once customary remedies had proven ineffective.
Human Sacrifice and Human Experimentation: Reflections at Nuremberg,
Yale J. Int'l L.
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