Is primum non nocere really achievable?


The ‘first, do no harm’ rule for doctors is sensible and straightforward advice.

As is: “Don’t do things to patients that damage them.”

But acting on these in the day-to-day throws of clinical practice is not always easy. Therapeutic interventions can, and often do, harm. Surgery, radiotherapy, hospital admissions, dental work, and even psychotherapy can cause collateral harm.

As positive outcomes cannot be guaranteed, we try to communicate probabilities of treatment outcomes to patients, but at present they still