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Today’s Latin Tuesday entry from Dr. Richard in Tennessee:

“Primum non nocere”

“Above all, do no harm!”

The so-called Hippocratic injunction to do no harm has been an axiom central to clinical pharmacology and to the education of medical and graduate students. It has been reported that the author was neither Hippocrates nor Galen. Searches of writings back to the Middle Ages have uncovered the appearance of the axiom as expressed in English, coupled with its unique Latin, in 1860, with attribution to the English physician, Thomas Sydenham. Commonly used in the late 1800s into the early decades of the 1900s, it was nearly exclusively transmitted orally; it rarely appeared in print in the early 20th century. Despite insufficiencies, it remains a potent reminder that every medical and pharmacological decision carries the potential for harm. ( J Clin Pharmacol. 2005 Apr;45(4):371-7.) 

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