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Iatrogenic illness on a general medical service at a university hospital
  1. K Steel,
  2. P M Gertman,
  3. C Crescenzi,
  4. J Anderson
  1. Geriatrics Section and the Section of Health Care Research, Evans Memorial Department of Clinical Research, Department of Medicine, University Hospital, Boston University Medical Center, 720 Harrison Ave, Suite 503, Boston, MA 02118, USA


    We found that 36% of 815 consecutive patients on a general medical service of a university hospital had an iatrogenic illness. In 9% of all persons admitted, the incident was considered major in that it threatened life or produced considerable disability. In 2% of the 815 patients, the iatrogenic illness was believed to contribute to the death of the patient. Exposure to drugs was a particularly important factor in determining which patients had complications. Given the increasing number and complexity of diagnostic procedures and therapeutic agents, monitoring of untoward events is essential, and attention should be paid to educational efforts to reduce the risks of iatrogenic illness.

    • adverse events
    • patient safety
    • iatrogenic illness
    • hospital admission

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    • * This is a reprint of a paper that appeared in New England Journal of Medicine, 1981, Volume , –42.

    • Supported in part by a grant (5 R21 AG 01178) and a Geriatric Medicine Academic Award (AG 00060) from the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services.