Innovative surgery and the precautionary principle

Denise Meyerson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


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. Tlois 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. Tlois 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. Tlois article considers whether it is appropriate to apply a precautionary approach when making decisions about innovative surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-624
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Medicine and Philosophy (United Kingdom)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


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