Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences
What Is an Iatrogenic Disease?
Simply put, an iatrogenic disease is one that develops as a result of another form of medical treatment or advice provided to a patient. How does this happen? Well, it could be because of complications after surgery or another medical treatment, or it could be because of an indirect interaction from medications or drug therapy. An iatrogenic disease isn't always harmful to the patient, though it is estimated that at least 230,000 people die each year in the United States due to iatrogenic diseases.
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- 0:02 What Is an Iatrogenic Disease?
- 0:35 Causes of Iatrogenic Diseases
- 1:13 Types of Iatrogenic Diseases
- 2:29 Lesson Summary
Causes of Iatrogenic Diseases
Iatrogenic diseases can be caused by a number of things and in some cases they are more of an effect or symptom than a full-on disease. A complication after surgery or another medical procedure could be classified as an iatrogenic disease. It could be a result of error or negligence on the part of the surgeon, doctor or nurse, or pharmacist, or it could simply be due to chance, meaning it's no one's fault in particular; sometimes complications just happen. In fact, iatrogenic disease due to adverse side effects of drugs, not error, is the most common type of iatrogenic disease documented.
Types of Iatrogenic Diseases
Not all iatrogenic diseases are harmful. For example, a scar is considered an iatrogenic disease, though it doesn't actually hurt the patient and is often an inevitable part of medical procedures. A patient could have negative side effects from certain prescription drugs, either from too high of a dose or due to bad combinations of drugs. Or, the side effects could be simply part of the medical process. For example, radiation and chemotherapy can kill cancer cells while also causing nausea, hair loss, and other problems in the process. Many of these are known side effects going into treatment, but they are classified as iatrogenic diseases nonetheless.
Iatrogenic diseases can also manifest in the form of mental diseases. Long, grueling treatment regimens or even mistakes made along the way could lead to changes in a patient's mental behavior and health. Examples include development of bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or even substance abuse. Though harder to quantify as a disease, changes in mental health still qualify as iatrogenic diseases if they develop as a result of other medical treatments. A patient also might develop depression or anxiety over the high costs involved with medical treatments.
Iatrogenic diseases develop in response to some type of medical treatment or advice that has previously taken place. Sometimes a person or doctor is to blame, but often there is no error and an iatrogenic disease is just an unlucky side effect. Often, these side effects are known about ahead of time and are just necessary effects of treatment, especially when no other treatment options exist.
Direct iatrogenic diseases include adverse drug interactions, complications that arise during surgery, mistakes in after care or drug treatment, and mistakes during treatment. Indirect effects exist too and often include psychological effects, including changes in mental health status. Mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder can emerge, and depression or anxiety can develop as a result of the demands of treatment and concerns about paying for it.
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Iatrogenic Disease: Definition & Effects
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