While writing a medical article, in sources I used I encountered the phrase precipitating cause several times.
One of the definitions of to precipitate is:
to make something serious happen suddenly or more quickly than was expected
Having that definition in mind, one would expect that the phrase precipitating cause would be a pleonasm. However, there are quite a few examples of usage, even in texts not related to medicine. Is this a widespread misuse or is there an explanation why this phrase is correct?