TED Conversations

Renzo Bruni

This conversation is closed.

What should be the first law of medicine ?

Many wrongly ascribe "Primum non nocere/Do no harm" to the Hippocratic Oath, although it is NOT really found there. Hippocrates apparently did say that, or write that phrase, but it was in his "Epidemics". Should not the First Law of Medicine rather be "Primum bonum facere/First do good" (et secundum non nocere). Would this not summarize the role of modern physicians, nurses, providers and therapists better than a nostrum ("Primum non nocere/Do no harm") that might be interpreted as to justify holding back on any therapy which has side effects. Does not this new First Law of Medicine justify all interventions which might help, and allow more adaptability to the real situation by admitting that 'helping' is the moral role of providers?

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Aug 25 2011: " Never try to play GOD"
    • thumb
      Aug 25 2011: I certainly get the emotional force of this axiom (I don't think you invented it, did you?)(insert smiley face here) but could you be more precise in what it means in terms of details or specific limitations? Do you think doctors are arrogant? Do you mean that the full application of available technology (stem cells, cloning, anti-onco-gene insertions for cancer, in vitro fertilization, abortions, plastic surgery) is going too far? What is GOD's role, what is man's (or the doctor's)?
      • thumb
        Aug 26 2011: I thought it up yes, but maybe someone else had the thought as well......I do feel that some Doctors are somewhat arrogant yes, they think they are so good that they alone hold the key to life? application of technology is never the sole factor when it comes to life, although some doctors think so. Just have a look at the bible when it comes to healing. It has a preventative approach, and when it comes to actually healing or curing, it almost never involved medicine.....It involved the hand of GOD. doctors have said before that there is no hope.....then years later the patient still lives a great life after miraculously recovering from the illness.....I was in the emergency services for a couple of years and these days I joined forces with a friend in a business that deals with emergency situations. Altogether me and Wynand have handled probably 20 000-30 000 emergency situations. I have seen people come out of totally wrecked cars with a couple of scratches, and I have seen people die in front of my eyes when the car had only a couple of scratches.....The role of doctors are to intervene when people get sick or injured by their own choices or the reckless behavior of others. When people get sick because GOD allows it, or they are born deformed or disabled because GOD have a mission for them, then there will be nothing any doctor can do for that person....Although there are doctors who ignore this and try in any case. You see when other people are not "normal" in our eyes, then we tend to try and get them there by all means necessary.


        Here is a good example of someone that was born without limbs and discovered the meaning of hes life.....Sometimes there is NO medical REASON for things....
        Nick Vujicic
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRkUbOLLmYE
        It's a bit long, but do yourself the favour and watch it completely.
        also watch this.....
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LtCrlXdd2E
    • thumb
      Aug 25 2011: oh, I thing we are long past that. we are playing god everyday. To begin with CPR - we are resurrecting people. Or maybe you mean that we shouldn't decide who gets to live? well thats basically what the insurance companies are for...
      • thumb
        Aug 26 2011: No my friend.....GOD has control.....And always will
        Are you a doctor?.....you speak like one.....
      • thumb
        Aug 26 2011: Your comment ("insurance companies" "decide who gets to live") brought a wry smile to my face. I agree with the force and direction of your sardonic wit, but actually (IMHO) it is society that decides who dies, when and how, by deciding who lives well, who eats at all, who eats right, who gets medical care, and even who gets which disease. It seems that insurance companies make the proximate determination of these things (and they do of course) but it is US who allow it to happen, and therefore 'choose'. When you know it could be different (and better), and still you do not make it better - there, then and in that way you choose (I invented that axiom).

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.