Medical professionals should treat all of their patients with the same regard and respect. They take an oath to do no harm, regardless of the situation. Unfortunately, the reality of modern healthcare falls far short of that idealized vision.
Doctors make mistakes when treating patients and when diagnosing them. Mistakes in someone’s medical care can potentially have life-altering consequences. Women, in particular, are at noteworthy risk of misdiagnosis when they need healthcare. Their risk may be as much as 30% higher than the risk for men.
Why do women face diagnostic hurdles?
Deep-seated and subtle personal biases are one reason that doctors make more diagnostic mistakes or oversights with female patients. Many doctors allow their personal biases and beliefs to affect the care that they provide to their patients.
For example, a doctor’s internal biases can affect the diagnostic process. They may not believe someone’s self-reported symptoms or feel like their pain is less important than pain reported by others. If the doctor doesn’t believe a woman told the truth about her symptoms, they may reach the wrong conclusion or fail to diagnose the woman at all.
Other times, the issue is that certain conditions present different symptoms in men as opposed to women. Doctors often learn the male set of symptoms and may not recognize how the conditions present differently in women. The combination of internal bias and different medical concerns means that women simply don’t receive the same standard of care that men do at many hospitals and medical facilities.
Learning when you are at increased risk for medical malpractice, like diagnostic mistakes, can help you hold medical care providers responsible when their personal issues affect the treatment you receive.