Medical Misquotes


Alfredo Pinzón-Junca • Bogotá, D.C. (Colombia)

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Dr. Alfredo Pinzón-Junca: Especialista en Medicina Interna y Psicoanálisis. Hospital Universitario de La Samaritana y Hospital Simón Bolívar. Coordinador del Consejo de Acreditación y Recertificación de la ACMI®. Bogotá, D.C. (Colombia).


Received: 03/V/2020 Accepted: 04/V/2020


Some inappropriate uses of this term are heard in current medical jargon, such as superinfected COPD, superinfection of a venous ulcer, or superinfected varicose veins, diseases which are not normally infectious, although they may be complicated with a secondary infection. Understanding the etymology will help clear up the situation.

Superinfection: (Derived from infection):

  1. A new infection in an individual previously affected by a different microbial pathogen.

Synonym: secondary infection.

Observation: Not to be confused with «reinfection» or «coinfection».

To reinforce its proper use, it is important to review the term from which it is derived: Infection: (From the latin infic(ere) 'to stain' + -tiônem 'corruption'; documented in French since 1314):

  1. Entry, implantation and multiplication of a pathogenic microbe within the organism, with subsequent stimulation of the immune system, although it may not always cause disease.
  2. Action or effect of infecting or being infected.

Therefore, the word «superinfection» and its derivatives only apply to infectious diseases; for example: bacterial superinfection of infectious skin lesions, hepatitis D superinfection in a patient with chronic hepatitis B infection, mycotic vaginitis following genital herpes, bacterial colitis associated with the use of antibiotics, etc.


• Real Academia Nacional de Medicina. Diccionario de Términos Médicos. Editorial Médica Panamericana. 2012

• Diccionario de la Real Academia Española de la Lengua. Disponible en:

• Mandel, Douglas and Bennett's. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. Ninth Edition. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier. 2019