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November 28, 1980

Latrogenic Diseases

Author Affiliations

Fallon Clinic, Inc Worcester, Mass

JAMA. 1980;244(21):2460. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310210060037

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Even if we accept "caused by a physician" as the definition of iatrogenic (and not "cause of a physician" as proposed, with tongue in cheek, by Sir Douglas Black), this book seems to be incorrectly named. It deals comprehensively with diseases that can be caused by drugs, but not with diseases that physicians can induce by other means. My Webster's Third New International Dictionary says that iatrogenic means "induced by a physician—used chiefly of imagined ailments induced in a patient by autosuggestion based on a physician's words or actions during an examination." But this sort of iatrogenic disease is not considered at all in the present work, nor are the harmful effects of radiation or mechanical devices used by physicians discussed. If the reader understands that this is a volume on drug-induced diseases, he will find it an excellent one on that subject.

In the first chapter the authors discuss