Tag Archives: iatrogenic illness

WHY DID YOU DO THAT TO GEORGE WASHINGTON?

GeorgeWashingtonslidshow1Patients sometimes say to me….” I like to stay away from the doctor”…in such a way that they don’t want to offend me, but just to let me know.  My answer is often….”Yes….we killed George Washington…among other great moves.”

In fact, historians do note that blood-letting, common in the age of Washington, was used to treat his pneumonia and it is thought that this treatment probably hastened his death (of course…we doctors didn’t GIVE him the pneumonia in the first place…so I guess we are not wholly responsible.)

Iatrogenic illness, illness caused by medical treatment/practice, does occur frequently enough that we need to be cognizant of it.  Issues can develop from rare occurrences; side effects or complications (a statistically infrequent medication side effect) , or sometimes are common enough that the issues are mentioned to patients, but they disregard the possibility that they can have that undesired result (voice injury after thyroid surgery).  But, beyond that, there is the old Twain motto that covers the practice regimens that are in fashion, that eventually are dismissed as ineffective or downright dangerous.  Twain noted:  ” It’s not what you know that gets you in trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so!”