Medicine:Quaternary prevention

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Quaternary prevention
Medical diagnostics
Purposeidentify patients at risk of overmedication

The quaternary prevention, concept coined by the Belgian general practitioner Marc Jamoulle,[1] are the actions taken to identify a patient at risk of overmedicalisation, to protect them from new medical invasion, and to suggest interventions which are ethically acceptable.[2][3]

Quaternary prevention is the set of health activities to mitigate or avoid the consequences of unnecessary or excessive intervention of the health system.[4]

Explanation of term

Marc Jamoulle divided medical situations into four quadrants based on if the patient was experiencing illness (i.e. if the patient experienced subjective poor health) and if the doctor had identified disease (constructed based on diagnostic criteria), with a different type of prevention happening in each:

  1. Primary prevention when both illness and disease are absent
  2. Secondary prevention when illness is absent but disease is present
  3. Tertiary prevention when both illness and disease are present
  4. Quaternary prevention when the patient is experiencing illness but there is no identified disease

Jamoulle noted that when the patient was experiencing illness but no specific disease had been identified that patient was particularly vulnerable to their condition being made worse by invasive or harmful diagnostic medical intervention.

This original explanation is more limited than the more general term listed in the Wonca International Dictionary for General/Family Practice, "action taken to identify patient at risk of overmedicalisation, to protect him from new medical invasion, and to suggest to him interventions, which are ethically acceptable".[5]


See also


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