Caduceus or the Staff of Asclepius

Symbols of Medicine Which symbol should we be using to represent the medical profession?

Apparently, the caduceus on the left, with two serpents coiling around a pole is mistakenly used by the medical profession even though the official symbol of the medical profession is supposed to be the staff of the miraculous healer-god Asclepius, a single serpent entwined around a cypress branch.

The caduceus is associated with Hermes (Mercury), the messenger of the gods, also known as the god of trickery, wealth and death! Whoops.

From a purely folkloric angle, it is impossible to ignore an odd fact that one finds in nearly every culture and throughout history: not only are staffs and serpents generally associated, but the juxtaposition or combination of the serpent and the bird symbols is almost always profoundly meaningful.

Caduceus vs the Staff of Asclepius
Most of organisations using the Caduceus symbol are generally either commercial or military (or American). Professional and patient centred organisations (such as the NZMA, in fact most medical Associations around the world including the World Health Organization) use the "correct" and traditional symbol of medicine, the staff of Asclepius with a single serpent encircling a staff.

Caduceus - Rod of Hermes - DNA
As a symbol for medicine, the caduceus is often used interchangeably with the Rod of Asclepius (single snake, no wings), although learned opinion prefers the Rod of Asclepius, reserving the caduceus for representing commerce.

Caduceus -
The caduceus is sometimes mistakenly used as a symbol of medicine and/or medical practice, especially in North America, because of widespread confusion with the traditional medical symbol, the rod of Asclepius, which has only a single snake and no wings.