A Queenstown doctor looks set to make history by successfully petitioning for a change to the ancient Hippocratic Oath.
The World Medical Association (WMA) is set to vote tomorrow on an amendment put forward by Dr Sam Hazledine, aimed at improving the health and well-being of thousands of medics the world over.
Last year, Hazledine, doctor and founder of Australasia's largest medical recruitment agency, MedRecruit, presented a 4500-signature petition to the WMA's General Assembly in Taipei asking for the Declaration of Geneva, the modern Hippocratic Oath, to add a clause advocating doctors focus on looking after their own health as well as the health and well-being of their patients.
Until now there has been no provision for doctors to prioritise or focus on their own health to better dispense patient care.
Hazeldine, who is in Chicago for the WMA assembly where the new clause is set to be ratified tomorrow, said the call for change followed figures from a large United States study, which showed 87 per cent of doctors were stressed or suffering from burnout.
This was an "alarming figure" and Hazeldine said his own research showed stress and burnout was contributing to an increase in medical errors.
"Doctors haven't been taking care of their own health because we've been operating under the paradigm that we should sacrifice ourselves to look after our patients.
"Globally, there's already been a shift with the medical profession now starting to acknowledge there's a problem.
"A change in the declaration will be the official acknowledgement we need.''
He was confident the change would be ratified.
"There's been no resistance so far, everyone agrees it's time for a change and the fact most recognise that is great.
"We've got to first acknowledge the problem to solve it.
"Once we've done that we can start working on solutions and that's where my energy is now.''
The Declaration of Geneva was adopted in 1948 as a global standard of medical ethics and humanitarianism after the atrocities committed during WWII.
It has only been amended three times in its almost 70-year history.