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April 11, 1959


Author Affiliations

846 Prospect St. La Jolla, Calif.

JAMA. 1959;169(15):1790. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03000320092026

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To the Editor:—  The word iatrogenic was coined several years ago to denote any disease induced by medical treatment. The classic example is cardiac neurosis in a patient whose doctor is too fussy. As such, iatrogenic is probably a useful word, but it is beginning to suffer from misapplication. A good example is the title "Iatrogenic Stiff Shoulders," appearing in the Feb. 28 issue of The Journal, page 945. These stiff shoulders are not produced by the physician, they are produced by the injury and the lack of exercise afterward. To call such a shoulder iatrogenic is akin to calling an embolic death iatrogenic because the doctor did not tie the femoral vein! There might be other factors, too. I think that we should bury the word iatrogenic.

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