“Do no harm”

The other day I turned on the radio while I was driving, and found myself listening to a programme on BBC Radio 4. It was about Florence Nightingale's work on hospital design in the 19th Century.

Her first principle was that hospitals “should do the sick no harm.”

That's a good lesson to remember, and particularly important for organisations seeking to provide some kind of care for people. Today some people are worried about going into hospitals in Britain because they may catch a “superbug” (such as MRSA); and the government has just published statistics on death rates in hospitals. Organisations are encouraged to do risk assessment, but that is not the same.

When starting some new venture I tend, in a visionary kind of way, to think of all the good that I want to come out of it. Maybe I should spend more time thinking about how to avoid doing people harm at the same time!