Treating a Disease
In this chapter we will study
strategies for the treatment of disease;
measures for infection control in the clinic;
medical word roots for clinical procedures;
types of drugs and routes of administration; and
symbols and abbreviations used in pharmaceutics.
The Aims of Therapy
Once a disease has been diagnosed, appropriate
can begin. Incurable diseases
such as Alzheimer disease can be managed only with
which is aimed at alleviating the
symptoms and maximizing the patient’s comfort
rather than curing the disease.
is aimed at warding off a disease to which a patient
has been exposed or is likely to be exposed.
Vaccinations are an example of preventive treatment.
If the disease is curable, a plan of
instituted to eliminate the cause and restore
The Therapeutic Partnership
treatment plan (regimen)
is, at its best,
a partnership between the clinician and the patient or
the patient’s caregivers.
Depending on the diagnosis,
it may include medicine, surgery, and a combination
of diet, exercise, physical therapy, and other
Patients have the right to refuse
treatment to the extent permitted by law. Some health-
care facilities require patients to sign an
form testifying that they have been adequately
informed of the diagnosis, prognosis, and risks and
benefits of the treatment, and have made a voluntary
decision to pursue the treatment plan. This is
especially important if the treatment plan includes
One of the greatest obstacles to
successful treatment is
the failure or
inability of the patient or caregivers to follow the
plan—for example, by not taking a prescription drug
regularly, not adhering to a diet, or not returning for
follow-up examinations and care.
Controlling Infections of Clinical Origin
The clinical setting itself poses some challenges to
treatment. Many people under treatment contract
—infections acquired in a clinic
or hospital by exposure to pathogens introduced into
that environment by other patients. The very facilities
that are intended to cure disease are, for some, the
indirect cause of death. Therefore, it is important to
rigorously control the spread of pathogens in the
microbes from medical instruments and other objects.
It is a contradiction in terms to describe something as
“partially sterile”—either it is sterile or it isn’t.
Techniques of sterilization include pressurized steam
(as in an
), dry heat, ultraviolet light or other
radiation, chemicals such as alcohol and phenol, or