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How does medical gaslighting lead to misdiagnosis?

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | MEDICAL MALPRACTICE - Medical Malpractice |

One of the most frustrating things in the world is turning to a medical professional for help and having your symptoms dismissed out of hand – but that’s the reality for a lot of victims of medical gaslighting. 

Women and people of color, in particular, are more likely to have their physical problems attributed to stress or the fatigue of being a working parent than white males. They’re also more likely to be told that everything would likely resolve if they just got a little more exercise and lost a little weight, and their pain is often ignored or undertreated. 

Worse still, medical gaslighting can lead to missed diagnoses and misdiagnosis that ultimately delay proper care and leave patients drastically worse off than they would have been if someone had taken the time to listen to them and run a few tests.

What causes medical gaslighting?

It’s believed that both implicit and explicit biases play a role. Despite all of the progress that’s been made with equality and diversity in the world, the medical field is lagging. The vast majority of medical testing is geared toward men, and research into predominantly male health conditions has historically been better funded than research into predominantly female health conditions. Women don’t often fit the “textbook” examples for a condition simply because the textbooks are written about men.

People of color tend to suffer from additional biases and are more than twice as likely to be described negatively in their medical records. Despite all evidence to the contrary, some medical professionals still believe that Black people are less sensitive to pain than whites (and Black women perhaps least sensitive of all). 

If medical gaslighting led to a wrong diagnosis, you’re far from alone – but that may be cold comfort when you’re struggling with the aftermath of malpractice. Legal guidance can help you move forward with the compensation you are due.