[ ahy-a-truh-jen-ik, ee-a- ]
/ aɪˌæ trəˈdʒɛn ɪk, iˌæ- /
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(of a medical disorder) caused by the diagnosis, manner, or treatment of a physician.
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Origin of iatrogenic

First recorded in 1920–25; iatro- + -genic


i·at·ro·ge·nic·i·ty [ahy-a-troh-juh-nis-i-tee, ee-a-], /aɪˌæ troʊ dʒəˈnɪs ɪ ti, iˌæ-/, noun

Words nearby iatrogenic

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does iatrogenic mean?

Iatrogenic is an adjective used to describe a medical disorder, illness, or injury caused in the process of medical treatment.

Iatrogenic conditions are typically caused inadvertently, such as through an incorrect diagnosis or the prescription of medicine that ends up doing harm.

Less commonly, iatrogenic is used in the context of social welfare to describe a problem that has been caused by the actions intended to address another problem.

Example: Iatrogenic conditions are the basis of most medical malpractice lawsuits.

Where does iatrogenic come from?

The first records of iatrogenic in English come from the 1920s. It comes from the Greek iatro, referring to a healer, and genic, meaning “produced or caused by.” So, iatrogenic conditions are caused by the person who’s supposed to be healing you.

When doctors take the Hippocratic oath, they promise to “first, do no harm.” This means that whatever they do to treat patients, they should never make things worse. But practicing medicine is complex, and there are many ways that things can go wrong in the course of treatment, especially when mistakes are made. Iatrogenic conditions can result from many different situations. The vast majority of them are unintentional, but some of them do happen because of negligence. For example, iatrogenic injuries sometimes result from surgeries performed on the wrong part of the body. Other times, though, iatrogenic conditions happen when everything goes according to plan—a scar resulting from surgery can be described as iatrogenic since it happened in the course of a medical procedure.

The term is sometimes extended beyond the medical field to refer to problems caused by actions intended to be solutions. For example, a volunteer program that results in negative relationships with a community could be described as iatrogenic.

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What are some other forms related to iatrogenic?

  • iatrogenicity (noun)

What are some words that share a root or word element with iatrogenic


What are some words that often get used in discussing iatrogenic?


How is iatrogenic​ used in real life?

Iatrogenic is a formal, technical word, and it’s usually used in a medical context.



Try using iatrogenic!

True or False? 

Iatrogenic conditions are always caused intentionally.

How to use iatrogenic in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for iatrogenic

/ (aɪˌætrəʊˈdʒɛnɪk) /

med (of an illness or symptoms) induced in a patient as the result of a physician's words or actions, esp as a consequence of taking a drug prescribed by the physician
social welfare (of a problem) induced by the means of treating a problem but ascribed to the continuing natural development of the problem being treated

Derived forms of iatrogenic

iatrogenicity (aɪˌætrəʊdʒɪˈnɪsɪtɪ), noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for iatrogenic

[ ī-ăt′rə-jĕnĭk ]

Induced in a patient by a physician's activity, manner, or therapy.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.