‘Failure to Thrive,’ or a Failure to Investigate?

May 15, 2024

saline bag hanging from rack

(New York Times) – An outdated medical term often masks treatable illnesses, health experts contend.

The word “failure” is rampant in medicine. Hearts, livers, lungs, and kidneys all “fail,” which simply means they cease to do their job. But the failures that patients tend to remember are the ones that seem to indict not an organ but an entire person. Just ask anyone who has been told that they have “failed” vaginal delivery (meaning that labor was slow or the cervix didn’t dilate) or “failed” chemotherapy (meaning that the tumor didn’t respond to treatment).

Worst among these phrases, many doctors say, is a common diagnosis for both infants and older adults: “failure to thrive.” (Read More)

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