Innovative Surgery and the Precautionary Principle

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 38 (6):jht047 (2013)

Abstract

Surgical innovation involves practices, such as new devices, technologies, procedures, or applications, which are novel and untested. Although innovative practices are believed to offer an improvement on the standard surgical approach, they may prove to be inefficacious or even dangerous. This article considers how surgeons considering innovation should reason in the conditions of uncertainty that characterize innovative surgery. What attitude to the unknown risks of innovative surgery should they take? The answer to this question involves value judgments about the acceptability of risk taking when satisfactory scientific information is not available. This question has been confronted in legal contexts, where risk aversion in the form of the precautionary principle has become increasingly influential as a regulatory response to innovative technologies that pose uncertain future hazards. This article considers whether it is appropriate to apply a precautionary approach when making decisions about innovative surgery

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References found in this work

Extending Human Lifespan and the Precautionary Paradox.John Harris & Søren Holm - 2002 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 27 (3):355 – 368.
Judicial Obligation, Precedent and the Common Law.Stephen R. Perry - 1987 - Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 7 (2):215-257.
The Precautionary Principle and the Regulation of U.S. Food and Drug Safety.Ed Soule - 2004 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (3):333 – 350.
Innovative Surgery: The Ethical Challenges.Jane Johnson & Wendy Rogers - 2012 - Journal of Medical Ethics 38 (1):9-12.

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