A New Zealand doctor's amendment to the modern Hippocratic Oath sworn by all doctors has been adopted unanimously by the World Medical Association.

Dr Sam Hazledine's change means doctors get to prioritise their own health alongside that of their patient.

The Declaration of Geneva, first adopted in 1948, is used by physicians across the world and is regarded as a modern version of the Hippocratic Oath.

The amendment was passed in Chicago early on Sunday morning, NZT.


"I will attend to my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard," is the new clause added.

For the first time, the declaration now has a provision relating to self-care for doctors.

"This might just seem like small words, but they signify a course-correction for our profession," Hazledine said.

"It's not that we have de-prioritised our patients, it's that we have now acknowledged one of the most important components to serve them."

Hazledine, from Queenstown, lobbied for the change after becoming concerned about burn-out in the profession.

A US-study showed 87 per cent of doctors were stressed or suffering from burnout.

Here, half of all New Zealand GPs have said in surveys they are either burnt-out or close to it.

"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," Hazledine said.


Dr Hazledine presented a petition, signed by 4500 Australasian doctors, requesting a change to the association a year ago.

Association president Dr Yoshitake Yokokura said: "The new wording respects the unique character and significance of this Declaration, but focuses more on important ethical principles not in the current version and not expressed explicitly.