History of Medicine


An Open Access Journal

On the history of medical risk

doi: 10.3897/hmj.5.3.32478

Nikolay A. Kuznetsov

This article reviews the main approaches to the interpretation of the term “risk”, which has acquired the status of a general scientific and widely interpreted concept. The unresolved issues of surgical risk terminology make it extremely difficult to solve the problem of perioperative prognosis at the narrow professional (medical) level. The author considers the problem of objectifying operational risk at an interdisciplinary level. In his opinion, understanding risk as a specific form of the subject’s active relation to the surrounding reality is the most justified at the present time. The essential particular features of such activities are the lack of confidence and the subject’s uncertainty in achieving the stated goal since a doctor’s professional activity takes place under conditions of risk, uncertainty and in contradictory situations.

The author of the article suggests using the definition of “risk” proposed by A.P. Algin, according to which risk should be un­derstood “as an activity connected with overcoming uncertainty and the situation of inevitable choice, in the process of which it is possible to quantitatively and qualitatively assess the probability of achieving the expected result, failure and deviation from the goal.” This definition prevents the use of antiscientific and scholastic views of this phenomenon. With reference to medical science (in particular, to surgery), this approach to risk allowed the author to formulate an individual quantitative prognosis and to distinguish five types of perioperative prognosis.

Keywords: history of medicine, history of surgery, operational risk, quantitative risk assessment in routine surgery, interdisciplinary approach, prognosis


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I.M. Sechenov

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