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December 1994

Iatrogenic Neurological Complications

Author Affiliations

Department of Neurology Georgetown University Medical Center Washington, DC 20007; Washington, DC

Arch Neurol. 1994;51(12):1184-1185. doi:10.1001/archneur.1994.00540240028011

Iatrogenic is derived from the Greek words "iatrós" (healer) and "genic" (origin) and has been used to refer to illness induced by a physician. Although the terms iatrogenic or iatrogenic illness were not used before the 20th century, the basic concept that they reflect was recognized as early as the 17th century bc in the Code of Hammurabi1 and later by Hippocrates.2,3 Roman law in the first century prescribed penalties for physicians who caused harm. In the 10th century, Rhazes authored a treatise entitled "Mistakes in the Purpose of Physicians."4 During the 18th century, the German city of Halle was recognized for its studies of physician-caused illness and produced, among others, a work entitled "Doctors as a Cause of Illness."5 The studies of Semmelweis6 in the 19th century established physicians as a major cause of puerperal sepsis and demonstrated that handwashing can dramatically reduce infection

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