What does ‘Iatrogenic’ Mean?

The etimology (origin) of the word, “iatrogenic” is from the Greek:

iatros – physician
genic – English

iat·ro·gen·ic \  ī-ˌa-trə-ˈjen-ik adjective  


Iatrogenic (Merriam-Webster)

“induced inadvertently by a physician or surgeon or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures




– jə-ˈnis-ət-ē \ noun


In other words, the physician did it.

Examples of Iatrogenic Events:

  • George Washington was blood-let by physicians who thought they were saving him. His death was iatrogenic.
  • The pharmacist misread the doctor’s handwriting and gave the patient the wrong drug. The patient got the wrong drug due to an iatrogenic handwriting error.
  • (Extreme case) The surgeon amputated the wrong leg. The mistake was iatrogenic.

What made you want to know what ‘Iatrogenic’ means?

Comment below and tell us where you heard it used, especially if you have a link to an article.

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Dr. Margaret Aranda

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4 thoughts on “What does ‘Iatrogenic’ Mean?

Add yours

  1. Thank you for your comment – it’s great to know what’s going on in medicine these days, right? So much with healthcare, medical error as #3 cause of death, and… oh the non-“opioid crisis” is another big one. I need to write a blog on that next. After I turn in The Rebel Patient to publish.

    Have updated it to reflect iatrogenic suicides due to no pain meds – truly sad. I pray you and all who stop by are not affected. Any of us can have pain tomorrow, so hope to pave the road responsibly. 😉 ((Hugs!))


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