Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Primum Non Nocere — Above All, Do No Harm!

This motto is often used to describe the moral obligations of medics (though it isn't the Hippocratic Oath).

The earliest solid reference found so far for the motto is from 1879:
The maxim that our first duty is to do no harm — primum non nocere — is not intended to reduce us to the rank of simple spectators; it is to stimulate us to attain greater accuracy in diagnosis, greater skill in treatment, and quicker perception of indications.
Stimson LA. On abdominal drainage of adherent portions of ovarian cysts as a substitute for completed ovariotomy. Am J Med Sci. 1879;78: pp. 88-100.

For a full history of the motto see; Cedric M. Smith, ‘Origin and Uses of Primum Non Nocere — Above All, Do No Harm!’, The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology,  Vol. 45 (4), (2005), pp. 371–377.

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