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what does cutting for stone mean

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according to an interview with the author Abraham Verghese, he clarifies,
There is a line in the Hippocratic Oath that says: ‘I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest.’ It stems from the days when bladder stones were epidemic, a cause of great suffering, probably from bad water and who knows what else. […] There were itinerant stonecutters—lithologists—who could cut either into the bladder or the perineum and get the stone out, but because they cleaned the knife by wiping it on their blood-stiffened surgical aprons, patients usually died of infection the next day. Hence the proscription ‘Thou shall not cut for stone.’ […] It isn’t just that the main characters have the surname Stone; I was hoping the phrase would resonate for the reader just as it does for me, and that it would have several levels of meaning in the context of the narrative.
- See more at: http://www.tadias.com/06/02/2009/book-review-vergheses-cutting-for-stone/#sthash.mgUmbjsD.dpuf88

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Cutting for Stone is from the Hippocratic Oath. It means that the cutting or surgery will be left up to the trained surgeons.

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The phrase, ‘cutting for stone’ in medicine means that doctors should not cut up patients. Only trained doctors (surgeons) are allowed to do so.

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The phrase "cut for stone" comes from the Hippocratic Oath. The full line reads "I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest" when translated into English. The significance of the phrase stems from Ancient Greece, where surgeons and doctors were not to share duties. A doctor was required to leave the "cutting" to the surgeons and take that promise as part of his oath.

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