Steven Miles, MD

Faculty Emeriti

Steven H. Miles is Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Bioethics. His medical career was in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics. He is a former Maas Family Endowed Chair in Bioethics at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis. He served as President of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities and received its Distinguished Service and Lifetime Achievement Awards. Among his other awards are the National Council of Teachers of English George Orwell Award for Distinguished Contribution to Honesty and Clarity in Public Language, American Bar Association-Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, Human Rights Hero, and the Sullivan-Ballou Fund Award for Human Rights, the Shotwell Award for Lifetime Contributions to Medical Ethics.

Dr. Miles has published thirty chapters and more than 200 medical articles on medical ethics, human rights, tropical medicine, end of life care, and medical torture. The Hippocratic Oath and the Ethics of Medicine (Oxford University Press, 2004) reviewed the meaning of the Hippocratic Oath. Oath Betrayed: America's Torture Doctors (University of California Press, 2006) examined military medicine in the war on terror prisons. The Torture Doctors: Human Rights Crimes and the Road to Justice (Georgetown University Press, 2020) reviews physician complicity with torture on an international scale. He has extensive international experience including global work with refugees and work on behalf of victims of torture. He currently serves on the board of the Minnesota ACLU Foundation, the editorial board of Torture Journal (Denmark) and is a Master Gardener. 

Dr. Mile's CV


        Web Database on Torture



Medical School, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

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The Torture Doctors: Human Rights Crimes and the Road to Justice

Published in Spring 2020 Georgetown University Press

By Steven H. Miles, M

Torture doctors administer and invent techniques to inflict pain and suffering without leaving scars.
Their knowledge of the body and its breaking points and their credible authority over death certificates and medical records make them powerful and elusive perpetrators of the crime of torture. In The Torture Doctors, Steven H. Miles fearlessly explores who these physicians are, what they do, how they escape justice, and what can be done to hold them accountable.

At least one hundred countries employ torture doctors, including both dictatorships and democracies. While torture doctors mostly act with impunity—protected by governments, medical associations, and licensing boards—Miles shows that a movement has begun to hold these doctors accountable and to return them to their proper role as promoters of health and human rights. Miles's groundbreaking portrayal exposes the thinking and psychology of these doctors, and his investigation points to how the international human rights community and the medical community can come together to end these atrocities.

The Hippocratic Oath and the Ethics of Medicine

Oath Betrayed: America's Torture Doctors

Published in Summer 2007 Bioethics Examiner
Hippocratic Oath: A 2007 Vernacular Version *
by Steven Miles, MD

I swear by human grief at the mortality of our loved ones, by the family of healers, by all manner of treatments and by health itself to fulfill this oath according to my power and judgment; and to respect those who have taught me this art and to support the institutions of health education, and to esteem those who aspire to become healers as my brothers and sisters and to share the facts, theories and methods of the healing sciences with them. I will use treatments for the benefit of the ill in accordance with my ability and my judgment but from what is to their harm or injustice I will keep them. I will not commit murder nor will I assist such endeavors. I will not endanger a woman in pregnancy.

In a pure and holy way I will guard my life and my art.

To each clinical encounter, I will go for the benefit of the ill and I will refrain from unjustly treating them, especially from sexual acts with my patients or their relatives. I will remain silent about the private things that I see or hear regardless of whether I learn of them during treatment or in broader conversations, if I honor this oath and do not evade its spirit or violate it, may I enjoy the benefits of life and of this profession and be respected by all. If I transgress, the opposite be my lot.

*[This version is derived from the translation of von Staden H. J Hist Med Allied Sci 1996;51:406 and the analysis of its cultural meaning in Miles S. The Hippocratic Oath and the Ethics of Medicine, Oxford University Press, 2004. I deleted the passage, I will not cut, and certainly not those suffering from stone, but I will cede [this] to men [who are] practitioners of this activity, because it was probably inserted centuries after the 500 BC writing of the Oath.]


Board Certifications

Dr. Miles is retired from the clinical practice of Board Certified Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine.