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June 26, 1981

Coping With Caps

JAMA. 1981;245(24):2525. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310490043027

The list of iatrogenic diseases may be longer than that of "natural" ones. No tabulation is available to settle the question. It is certain, however, that the number of iatrogenic agents is increasing at a faster rate than that of naturally occurring pathogens. Diagnostic and therapeutic radiation, pharmaceutical agents, physiotherapy, and even jogotherapy are fraught with iatrogenic repercussions, and don't forget the psychic disturbances caused by physicians who frighten their patients out of their wits.

Ironically, iatrogenic complications may result from well-intended measures to prevent other complications. For example, new medicine bottle caps demand artful opening and closing. This tactic keeps drugs out of reach of children. But what does it do to the adult with coronary heart disease or arthritis or both? We can visualize him, straining his eyes to read the directions on the bottle cap of his medicine bottle. Having finally deciphered the script and committed to