Iatrogenic Diseases and Medical Malpractice

Posted by Richard P. Hastings | Aug 11, 2015 | 0 Comments


What Iatrogenic Means & its Fatal Consequences:

The word “iatrogenic” means induced inadvertently by a physician or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures. Simply put, iatrogenesis refers to adverse effects- or complications- as a result of medical treatment or advice from a physician, psychologist, therapist, pharmacist, nurse, dentist, or any other healthcare professional. Iatrogenic diseases can also result from alternative medicine treatment and advice.

It is estimated 120,000 to 225,000 deaths in the United States each year may be attributable to some degree to iatrogenesis. It is difficult to know precisely the number of deaths resulting from iatrogenesis as there is no mandatory reporting system for healthcare professionals. This, in turn, also makes it a challenge to identify the causes of iatrogenic events and develop procedures to prevent iatrogenesis.

Causes of Iatrogenesis:

  • Nosocomial infections: These are infections that originate in a hospital. Symptoms are pain, fever, night sweats, breathing problems, infection, inflammation, and swelling. Nosocomial infections may be responsible for 80,000 deaths annually.
  • Medical misadventure: Injuries or adverse effects as a result of medical treatment. The Institute of Medicine in its report of 2000 estimated 98,000 people die per year from preventable medical errors.
  • Medication errors: The Institute of Medicine approximates 7,000 deaths due to medication errors.
  • Adverse reactions: The American Medical Association calculates 108,000 deaths from adverse pharmaceutical reactions, even though the medications prescribed were FDA-approved.

It is important to note that these figures only represent hospitalized patients. Non-hospitalized patients, outpatients, dental patients, and residents of care homes are not included but are equally vulnerable to iatrogenic diseases.

The Statistics

A presidential report from the year 2000 reported many shocking facts. The report called iatrogenic error a "problem of epidemic proportions" that causes tens of thousands of deaths each year and stated that one-half of the iatrogenic errors were preventable. More people die each year from medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, and AIDs. In act, a recent study done by Johns Hopkins found that medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Of the 2,000,000 people each year who contract infections in hospitals, 90,000 will die. To compound the situation, the overuse of antibiotics to treat infections has lead to bacterial infections becoming resistant to medications. Seventy percent of hospital infections are resistant to a minimum of one of the antibiotic drugs used for treatment. Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as staph, is resistant to 95 percent of first-choice antibiotics and 30 percent of second-choice antibiotics. Staph is the primary cause of hospital infections. A research report of 1999 discovered staph doubles the death rate, costs per patient, and the duration of the patient's hospitalization.

There is another aspect to iatrogenic diseases. People suffering from chronic pain may be under-treated or have their condition misdiagnosed as a psychiatric disorder rather than a physical illness. Ineffectual treatment for these people has caused suffering and, even, death. Iatrogenic diseases may be obvious, such as complications from surgery, or they may be difficult to identify, as in complex drug interactions.

Confirmation of death due to iatrogenic disease is an involved process. If you have lost someone you love and believe their death was the result of an adverse reaction or complication due to medical treatment, please click here to contact us for advice or call us at 888-244-5480. Our experienced team of attorneys will make sure your rights are protected. 

About the Author

Richard P. Hastings

Attorney Hastings concentrates his practice on personal injury and litigation. Devoted to helping those who have suffered some type of wrong, Richard P. Hastings concentrates his law practice on personal injury law.


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