According to Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary:
"Iatrogenesis is any adverse or physical condition induced in a patient through the effects of treatment by a physician or surgeon."
From the first discovery of penicillin and sulfa drugs and their wondrous ability to control and defeat infections, there has been a tremendous scientific effort to discover more and more engineered chemical agents to effectively treat myriads of ill health conditions, heretofore considered untreatable.
The benefits to public health over the past 50 years has been tremendous, particularly in treating various strains of infection, cancer therapy and the ability to perform organ transplants. The beneficial results can easily be measured in the large increase in average life expectancy witnessed over this period.
The growth of patented medicines has also been a source of great profits to pharmaceutical companies, because we live in a free enterprise system that sets prices through the function of supply and demand. As a result, the large profits have provided the resources to do additional research to discover more beneficial patentable formulations.
Unfortunately there is a dark side to this picture also.
Whenever large profits can be made, the greedy elements of Power, Politics and Money raise their ugly heads to evolve into an oligarchy where the rule of a few, who are more powerful than the many, move in to control the industry. Thus we have the Government, and its agencies, the pharmaceutical industry and to a lesser degree the health care industry transformed into a cozy association that has become counter productive to the citizenry, the intended beneficiaries of pharmaceutical advances.
From the Government side, the FDA is charged with protecting the public interest. As a result, the FDA has the power to approve all drugs before they come to market and to monitor the drug's safety in actual usage. However, as technology and advances in research has accelerated the numbers of new and improved drugs, the FDA has necessarily grown to immense size and power requiring an ever increasing budget.
To assist the Government, and further their own cause, the pharmaceutical industry now funds about half of the FDA's budget, thus saving public expense and providing a net increase in Government tax income from pharmaceutical profits. In any sense, this convenient arrangement is a classic example of an oligarchy, a prostitution of the free enterprise system and a taking of the guaranteed rights afforded the public by our Constitution.
The purpose of the above section is not meant to be a political statement, but to illustrate in a larger, non medical, sense what "Iatrogenisis" means.
Iatrogenisis occurs when an intentional action is taken in hopes of a beneficial result, but with the potential of creating a more serious problem.
In Physics, there is a law that states, for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. Iatrogenisis, may not be so absolute, but when dealing with complex systems, such as the human body, one should be very aware that by chemically modifying one minor system to achieve a beneficial result, one should expect an adverse side effect in the greater system universe that is roughly equal to the intended benefit.
Therefore, understanding and avoiding Iatrogenisis is really being informed that any prescribed action is always a balancing of trade offs in the hope that the benefits outweigh the detriments. Most people would accept that fact, if they were given the facts up front to make a considered, informed and an intelligent decision prior to being medicated. Unfortunately, there are three major problems to this ideal.
First, scientists are not advanced enough to foresee the extent of unintended consequences of a new chemical medication. Secondly, the present system is closed to the lay person to do any extensive due diligence in his/her defense. And thirdly, the Oligarchy is more preoccupied with protecting and promoting their powerful profit position than the needs of those they claim to benefit and instead use their powers to crush any alternatives to their products.
Some 225,000 U S Citizens die each year from "reported" Iatrogenesis conditions. It is estimated that these numbers only represent a small fraction of such incidents, as to do otherwise would be embarrassing and potentially devastating in our present litigious society.
The breakdown is roughly as follows:
12,000 deaths from unnecessary surgery
27,000 deaths due to treatment errors in hospitals
80,000 deaths due to infections contracted in hospitals
106,000 deaths from adverse drug side effects from physician prescribed drugs
After heart disease and cancer, prescription drugs are the third largest killer ahead of all other diseases, accidents, murder, and illegal drugs.
I have often wondered, had I died from my drug induced heart failure, what would they have put on my Death Certificate? Died of natural causes, -- a cardiomyopathy?
If the FDA and Congress can ban Ephedra because of less than 200 deaths of people "abusing" a derivative of Ephedra, "Ephedrine", which is contained in every anti histamine on the market, why were they totally blind to the dangers of Vioxx, Bextra and others where the reported deaths are in the 10's of thousands. Could it be that Ephedra is an herb, not patentable, protected under the Supplement Act of 1994 and a threat to the Oligarchy?
If it really in the public interest to allow Pharmaceutical companies to advertise such dubious erectile dysfunction, acid reflex, adult ADD, depression and toe nail fungus drugs like candy on TV, while our Government spends billions on an admittedly failed war on "illegal" drugs in the name of protecting the kids? What kind of message are our kids getting, when every third ad on TV is pushing "legal", make you all better, RX drugs? Or does it really depend on who makes the contributions the political action groups.
Why is the FDA and the FTC doing their best to generally discredit, and suppress, natural supplements and other alternative health care products and services that so many of us use to maintain good health so we don't have to resort to after the fact chemical Rx solutions?
Why have supplement and vitamin sales skyrocketed since the 1994 Supplement Act and in the same period the FDA and FTC have spent more money and time attempting to shut down alternative, pro active health care alternatives than minding their own dangerous Rx store?
Protect yourself by becoming educated. Ultimately, your health care is "Your" responsibility!
I surely do not know all the answers, but I have been subjected to inadvertent Iatrogenesis! I suffered a cardiomyopathy (Congestive Heart Failure) due to long term use of the drug Plaquenil. Thankfully, I have recovered and have learned how to become drug free.
Hopefully, being aware of Iatrogenesis will help you understand there are some very serious potential dangers connected to taking "Over the Counter" and "Prescription Drugs" --- and some "Supplements". Hopefully by knowing that iatrogenesis exists will motivate you to take an active and educated role in researching all drugs and supplements before using them.
If you, or some one you love, is about to start, or is taking, over the counter and/or prescription drugs, please use the resource at Research Drugs By Name for education purposes. Also research supplements at various credible medical web sites.