Iatrogenic Disease

Iatrogenic Disease

Question: Dear Dr. Harvey,
I have heard the term "Iatrogenic Disease." Could you please explain what this means and how you feel about it?

Answer: "Iatros" is Greek for "physician," and "genic" is Greek for "caused by." Iatrogenic disease is a disease, sickness, impairment, disfigurement, or death caused by the practice of acceptable medical care. This does not include malpractice or other medical mistakes.

Even something as simple as taking aspirin can cause an "iatrogenic disease." A study at Yale New Haven Hospital showed that 100,000 people die and 1 1/2 million others are hospitalized from iatrogenic reactions every year in this country. That means that each week 2,000 people die and 30,000 are hospitalized from the medications they take for the illnesses, not from the illnesses themselves. An additional 48,000 people die each year in the United States from unnecessary surgery, according to a Johns Hopkins study. That is nearly 1,000 deaths a week from surgery that should not have been performed.

As an interesting example, in Israel, in 1973, doctors went on strike and reduced their daily patient contact from 65,000 to 7,000. This strike lasted a month. According to the Jerusalem Burial Society, the Israel death rate dropped 50 percent during that month. There had not been such a profound decrease in mortality since the last doctors' strike 20 years before. In 1976, in Columbia, the doctors struck for 52 days and the death rate dropped 35 percent. In Los Angeles County, in 1976, the doctors went on a work slow-down to protest soaring malpractice insurance premiums. This coincided with an 18 percent drop in the death rate. Does this mean that all medicine is bad? Of course not. However, it is obvious that there are many dangers involved with medicine, which is why many more MDs are becoming more involved with holistic or more natural ways of health care. These include nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle changes.

Chiropractic is not a replacement for drugs or surgery. It is an alternative. Chiropractic should be tried before drugs or surgery whenever possible. We have had hundreds of patients who have been on various medications with no effects on improving their health, who then got better with chiropractic. We have also had many patients who have had medicine or even surgery recommended, who came to us for a second opinion. In a large number of these cases, we were successful in treating the patients and helping them to reach their healthcare goals without drugs or surgery, and in most cases with long-lasting results.

Does this mean that chiropractic is the cure-all for everything? Of course not. Does it mean that we are against all medicine? No. We often refer out when we find a problem that is out of the scope of Chiropractic. I enjoy a good working relationship with the Medical community and have quite a few doctors and nurses as patients.

In conclusion, the point of this article is to point out that there is often another approach to a problem other than drugs or surgery. If you have been recommended for surgery, especially back surgery, or if drugs are not getting you results, please seek the advice of a good Chiropractor.

©2009 Dr. Harvey


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San Diego Chiropractor Dr. Gregory Harvey — 12750 Carmel Country Road, Suite # 207 — San Diego, CA 92130 — 858-481-4125