Primum non nocere. The Latin phrase, meaning “First, do no harm,” is a core tenet taught to aspiring medical professionals.
It most commonly applies to physicians to ensure they do nothing that could potentially hurt a patient, but the healthcare sector has begun applying it in a broader context — specifically, to fight climate change.
Hospitals and health systems are major vessels of medical waste and massive consumers of energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, they are some of the most “complex and energy-intensive facilities” in the country. Major heating and lighting needs, 24/7 occupancy, and large, energy-sucking machines lead hospitals to have more than 2.5 times the energy intensity and carbon dioxide emissions of commercial office buildings.
Health Care Without Harm has helped organize more than 600 hospitals and health systems around the “First, do no harm” motto through the Healthier Hospitals Initiative — a coalition designed to improve environmental health and sustainability in the sector.
Jeff Thompson leads Gundersen Health System, based i... Read more