The precautionary principle is important in high risk, high harm, safety critical work. Risks to workers, customers, or service users are substantial, and so the precautionary principle in which precautions are taken until safety is proven, often apply. However, in healthcare it’s different. Healthcare takes the approach that the status quo applies until something is proven dangerous and harmful. The burden of proof is often high and often falls to the workforce to “prove.”
Alison Leary, Professor of healthcare and workforce modelling at London South Bank University, in this BMJ article discusses the reasons healthcare fails to heed the precautionary principle and why potentially the cost of doing so is high and ultimately catastrophic.