I is for iatrogenic

Unlike an adverse event, an iatrogenic effect is not always harmful.

iatrogenicSomeone sent me this piece from an obituary: “…His demise was probably iatrogenic.” Iatrogenic was not a word I knew.

It means: “induced inadvertently by a physician or surgeon or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures: an iatrogenic rash.”

Origin of the word comes from the Greek, iatros, meaning physician, plus the English suffix -genic. The word’s first known use was in 1924.

Some of the causes of iatrogenesis include side effects of a treatment and drug interactions, which may have been unanticipatable.

Also, “unlike an adverse event, an iatrogenic effect is not always harmful. For example, a scar created by surgery is said to be iatrogenic even though it does not represent improper care and may not be troublesome.”

Still, iatrogenic disease is the 3rd most fatal “disease” in the USA, with avoidable errors such as infection, and medication errors as leading causes of mortality.

Related: the dictum “first do no harm” doesn’t exactly come from the Hippocratic Oath, but it does come from the Hippocratic Corpus, at least in essence.
Sam Simon has died at the age of 59; it was not iatrogenic. He was the co-creator of the hit animated show, The Simpsons. There’s a lovely article about him in Vanity Fair.

ABC Wednesday – Round 16

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

18 thoughts on “I is for iatrogenic”

  1. Well, this is new word to me as well! I wonder if I can work it into any conversations today? Since I normally just talk to Twix, this might be difficult! 🙂

  2. That’s interesting Roger, I’ve certainly not heard that before so I shall write it down and try to memorise it! That would be a show stopper in a Scrabble game, of which I am a keen on-line player…. i’ll let you know should I ever get to use it!
    Best wishes,
    ABCW team.

  3. Really interesting post. We believe that my grandmother, while in the hospital died iatrogenically. So sad and in my opinion, happens all to frequently…

    On that happy note, have a great week.

  4. It is to be hoped that our doctors are to good to make terrible mistakes!Interesting word Roger!
    Have a great week, Roger!
    Wil, ABCW

  5. I love learning new words, and Iatrogenic is definitely one I wasn’t familiar with either. I hope I don’t ever have to use in regard to any of my loved ones… or them about me. Blessings!

  6. A new word to me, but certainly understand how it could be applied Unfortunately the medical community is not infallible.

  7. Never heard that word before, which is probably a good thing—it means I probably never knew anyone whose “demise was probably iatrogenic”.

  8. Yikes! I hope my demise will not be iatrogenic! I usually gravitate first to the photo submissions, but this one caught me eye today. Always good to add a new word to ones crossword repertoire. Thanks.

  9. Iatrogenic cut, my husband had a simple nose surgery, and the surgeon cut an Iatrogenic cut off the tip of his nose.

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