December 25th, 2012

Primum non nocere - (First, Do No Harm)

"...(A) fundamental principle for emergency medical services around the world.....: "given an existing problem, it may be better not to do something, or even to do nothing, than to risk causing more harm than good". It reminds the physician and other health care providers that they must consider the possible harm that any intervention might do. It is invoked when debating the use of an intervention that carries an obvious risk of harm but a less certain chance of benefit.
Non-maleficence is often contrasted with its corollary, beneficence.....

The origin of the phrase is uncertain. The Hippocratic Oath includes the promise "to abstain from doing harm" (Greek: ἐπὶ δηλήσει δὲ καὶ ἀδικίῃ εἴρξειν) but does not include the precise phrase. Perhaps the closest approximation in the Hippocratic Corpus is in Epidemics:[2] "The physician must ... have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm" (book I, sect. 11, trans. Adams, Greek: ἀσκέειν, περὶ τὰ νουσήματα, δύο, ὠφελέειν, ἢ μὴ βλάπτειν).

 Rather than being of ancient origin as usually assumed, the specific expression, and its even more distinctive associated Latin phrase, has been traced back to an attribution to Thomas Sydenham (1624–1689) in a book by Thomas Inman (1860). The book by Inman, and his attribution, was reviewed by "H. H." in the American Journal of Medical Science in the same year. A prominent American surgeon, L. A. Stimson, used the expression in 1879 and again in 1906 (in the same journal). ... (It) was in common use by the turn of the (20th) century...

Primum non nocere - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

First, do no harm: an oath for every profession and every one.