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First do no harm is the guiding tenet of the Hippocratic Oath, the professional oath that doctors and dentists take when they begin their careers. While this principle may seem obvious, it is more important than ever because of the level and complexity of available medical and dental care.

Iatrogenesis literally means “brought forth by a physician” and refers tor a state of ill health brought about by medical treatment.  Every year statistics on complications arising from medical treatment increase, second only to the fatalities cause by heart disease and cancer: there are more adverse drug reactions, unnecessary hospitalizations, inadvertent misdiagnosis, etc.  It becomes evident that the Hippocratic Oath is more than a nice sentiment, it is a guiding light for the practice of the healing arts.

When a healthcare provider is grounded in this principle of looking to the patient’s welfare above all else, this usually leads to the most complete diagnosis and analysis of the situation at hand. Also, when all of the desires and needs of the patient are being included as much as possible, then a positive healing relationship can be established.  This is really a sacred relationship built on trust, and the more it is held in this fashion, the more he patient’s attitude will be positive and the more likely that the outcome will be successful.

This brings up the issue of informed consent.  It is the patient’s right to fully understand the issues with any treatment being proposed.  This includes the therapeutic benefits as well as possible side effects and risks involved.  In medical circles informed consent is considered fundamental to sound practice.  Treatment results are usually best when the patient is involved in the process, and you the patient must always have the ultimate right of choice when it comes to your own body.