Patient Safety Is Our Job #1

John R. Tongue, MD

Like other physicians, we orthopaedic surgeons quickly learned the dictum attributed to Hippocrates: First, do no harm. But putting this precept into practice takes more than simply repeating it, like a mantra, whenever we approach a patient. And, as our knowledge increases and technology advances, knowing what will “do no harm” becomes more problematic.

During the past 40 years, orthopaedic surgery has often been recognized as the most dynamic field in medicine. We have benefited from a dazzling array of innovative new technologies and scientific knowledge. Pundits have described us as the “rock stars of medicine.” Yet, while employing these powerful new treatments, we may not have recognized opportunities to reduce the severity and frequency of unintended medical errors.

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