Why You Should Be More Worried About Iatrogenesis Than A Spider In Your Slipper

Why You Should Be More Worried About Iatrogenesis Than A Spider In Your Slipper

Imagine this: You’re home alone, minding your own business, when you spot a spider in your slipper. Yikes! Your heart beats faster, your palms sweat, and your first instinct is to run for the hills. But what if I told you there’s something else that should have you more worried than our eight-legged friend here? Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to iatrogenesis. No, it’s not the name of a new Greek god or a fancy type of pasta. It’s a serious issue within the world of healthcare that we all need to be aware of.

Co-written and Edited by David Stone

What on Earth is Iatrogenesis?

Before you start googling “iatrogenesis” and get lost in the sea of medical jargon, let me break it down for you12. Iatrogenesis refers to any injury or illness that occurs as a result of medical care3. Think of it like this: You go to the doctor to get better, but instead, you end up feeling worse because of an error, negligence, or even just a regular part of the treatment. It’s like going to a hairdresser for a trim and coming out bald. Not quite what you signed up for, right?

Waiting room in hospital

How Often Does It Occur?

It’s hard to tell, because it can vary greatly depending on the situation. Some estimates suggest that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US and up to 16 million people worldwide suffer from iatrogenesis each year.

Iatrogenic illnesses can range from minor cases such as an allergic reaction to a medication to severe cases like life-threatening infections due to hospital-acquired bacteria.

But How Does Iatrogenesis Happen?

Now, before you swear off doctors forever, let’s dive into how iatrogenesis happens. It’s not always about a surgeon leaving his watch inside you during surgery (although that would definitely qualify). Sometimes, it’s subtler things like a misdiagnosis, wrong prescription, or even structural biases within the healthcare system45.

For instance, you might be given medication that reacts badly with something else you’re taking. Or perhaps you’re treated based on symptoms that are actually caused by a completely different problem. It’s like mistaking the sound of your rumbling stomach for a coming earthquake and hiding under a table for safety while you’re just hungry.

The Effects of Iatrogenesis

So, why should you be more worried about iatrogenesis than finding a tarantula in your teacup? Well, the effects can range from minor discomfort to serious health problems, and in some cases, it can even be fatal6. It’s like going to a comedy show and ending up with a broken rib from laughing too hard – except it’s not nearly as funny.

Wrapping It Up

In conclusion, iatrogenesis is a significant issue that requires our attention. It’s not about sparking fear or mistrust in healthcare professionals – after all, they’re human too, and humans make mistakes. But we need to be informed and vigilant about the care we receive.

So the next time you find a spider in your slipper, remember: there’s something else that deserves your concern more. And unlike the spider, you can’t just shake iatrogenesis out of your shoe.


  1. Iatrogenesis, Wikipedia
  2. Iatrogenesis Definition & Meaning, Merriam-Webster
  3. Iatrogenesis – an overview, ScienceDirect Topics
  4. When considering iatrogenesis, don’t overlook structural drivers, AMA
  5. Iatrogenesis and Health Inequity, AMA Journal of Ethics
  6. Session 11. Iatrogenesis: Exploring Ethical Obligations, AAP

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