Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


An iatrogenic (pronounced [aI%{.tr@U"dZE.nIk], SAMPA) condition is a state of ill health caused by medical treatment, usually due to mistakes made in treatment. The word literally means "caused by a doctor", though such conditions can be the fault of therapists or pharmacists as well.

Iatrogenic conditions can include medical errors, such as mistakes made in surgery, or the prescription or dispensing of the wrong drug. For instance, because most drug prescriptions are handwritten by the doctor, poor handwriting can lead a pharmacist to dispense the wrong drug, worsening a patient's condition.

The evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria is sometimes called iatrogenic as well. Bacteria strains resistant to antibiotics have evolved in response to what some call the overprescription of antibiotic drugs. In some parts of the world, antibiotics are prescribed much more frequently than in others, partly because people have come to expect them to be effective and thus to demand them from doctors. The habit of some patients to discontinue an antibiotic regimen as soon as their symptoms abate -- rather than taking the full course to ensure the bacteria are wiped out -- can also accelerate bacterial evolution towards resistance.

Some have considered many of the more elaborate forms of mental illness to be iatrogenic, recently including dissociative identity disorder and recovered memory syndrome. According to this belief, patients in therapy, who may initially have depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, respond to suggestion by the therapist by filling in the other expected symptoms of these disorders.

A related term is nosocomial, which refers to a illness transferred from patient to patient in the hopital.

External links