A cascade effect is usually an inevitable and sometimes unforeseen chain of events due to an act affecting a system. If there is a possibility that the cascade effect will have a negative impact on the system, it is possible to analyze the effects with a consequence/impact analysis. Cascade effects are commonly visualised in tree structures, also called event trees.
In biology, according to Mold and Stein, the term cascade refers to “a process that, once started, proceeds stepwise to its full, seemingly inevitable, conclusion”.
The main cause of a cascade of injury in medicine is by misdiagnosis and medical error.
These result in iatrogenic injury and from medical error flows a cascade of effects and results often including pain, disability, loss of job, poverty and homelessness which obviously cause mental health problems and may cause early death.
In medicine, a cascade effect may also refer to a chain of events initiated by an unnecessary test, an unexpected result, or patient or physician anxiety, which results in ill-advised tests or treatments that may cause harm to patients as the results are pursued. An example would be ordering a full body CT scan without a clear reason, finding a growth and thereafter, undergoing a debilitating surgery to remove it, despite the fact that the condition was asymptomatic and possibly benign.
In Holistic Medicine, competent holistic practitioners realize that everything in a patient’s life is inter-connected and possibly related to the disease condition, whether it be the person’s house, garden, relationships, dog or food. There is also an ecological definition of cascade effects, in which the death of one key species in an ecosystem triggers the extinction of other species. Cascade effects seen in the perspective of space travelling are theoretical possibilities that “space junk” or a satellite destroyed by a meteor will send debris throughout the orbits of most telecommunication satellites destroying them in the process and subsequently sending that debris into all possible orbits, destroying everything in orbit around the Earth, known as the Kessler syndrome. It is theorized that if this occurs, space flight beyond Earth will become very difficult if not impossible. All of these examples as well as the ongoing iatrogenesis suggest that Holistic Medicine should replace Drug-based conventional medicine asap.
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- Mold JW, Stein HF (1986). “The cascade effect in the clinical care of patients”. New England Journal of Medicine. 314 (8): 512–514. doi:10.1056/NEJM198602203140809. PMID 3945278.
- Richard A. Deyo (May 2002). “Cascade effects of medical technology”. Annual Review of Public Health. 23: 23–44. doi:10.1146/annurev.publhealth.23.092101.134534. PMID 11910053.
- Chidiac RM; Aron DC (Mar 1997). “Incidentalomas. A disease of modern technology”. Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America. 26 (1): 233–53. doi:10.1016/S0889-8529(05)70242-5. PMID 9074861.