Must watch: A documentary based on ethics in medicine

The world premiere of the documentary ‘Hippocratic’ was organised in Pune, on Saturday. For the next two months, it will be screened in different cities of the world. The documentary narrates the story of an acclaimed Indian physician Dr MR Rajgopal, who made efforts to re-establish the ethics in medicine by letting palliative care spread in the country


With an aim to provide people an insight in the medical field, a 88 minute  documentary named ‘Hippocratic’, highlights the story of an acclaimed Indian physician Dr MR Rajgopal, whose dream is to have pain free India. The documentary raises a pertinent question of how to bring ethical practice in modern medicine through whole person care.

This undeniably moving stuff narrated by David Suchet CBE talks about how modern medicine has lost its way, how the medical system is fuelling poverty, how physician-assisted suicide is being debated globally and the pain management crisis being caused by regulation of pain medications.

Dr MR Rajgopal
Dr MR Rajgopal

The world premiere of the documentary was organised in Pune on Saturday. The documentary would now be screened in different cities of the world for the next two months. The’ Hippocratic Oath’ is a solemn pledge taken by physicians which is inspired by ancient Greek medical texts.  It articulates the key principles of ethical medicine and the film states that it has largely been forgotten by today’s medical graduates.

Professor MR Rajagopal, better known as ‘Dr Raj’, fell into medicine – a happy accident. He’s now one of the field’s most respected physicians, described by the New York Times as ‘the father of palliative care in India’.

Dr Rajgopal, while making the most important critic about modern medicine being practiced in the country said in the documentary, “One of the ills of the modern medical system is that is does not seem to understand what its purpose is. Hippocrates said that a doctor’s duty is to cure sometimes, treat often, and to comfort always. Unfortunately, all the effort nowadays is at curing. If cure is not possible, we keep on attacking the disease. Even in a patient with advanced cancer, or a person with stroke whose brain has been totally destroyed, shutting him up inside an intensive care unit, putting him on life support systems when he is trying to say farewell to the world – without the human touch, not able to see his relatives, not able to say goodbye to his son or grandchild, or his father or mother – that is a real tragedy.”

This tragedy is well explained by different anecdotes from his life along with the apt and inspiring thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi in between. The documentary depicts many heart wrenching stories about patients pain and doctors helplessness when it comes to unavailability of morphine.

It also explains, how availability of morphine has decreased from 600 kg per year in 1985 to just 37 kg in 1997. While India at the current rate of population and increased suffering needs around 36,000 kg per year. And the stories about how frequent interruption of morphine supply has hampered the pain healing process in the country.

The documentary is a must watch for not only all those who are related with medical practice in some way or the other, but for all others whose near and dear ones have gone through excruciating physical pain. When different statistics are making the point on how health care is adding into poverty of the country and on how sufferings of the people are not taken care seriously, the documentary sensitises to rethink over many such issues.