Those with worrisome medical symptoms rely on healthcare professionals to determine the underlying cause of those symptoms. A doctor’s diagnosis can make all the difference for someone dealing with pain, headaches, nausea or other frustrating medical issues.
A variety of different conditions might cause any of those symptoms, and therefore patients rely on a doctor to help them determine what actually caused their symptoms so that they can have the best possible prognosis. Sometimes, doctors make mistakes when attempting to diagnose a patient. They may fail to diagnose someone or reach the wrong diagnosis.
Overall, women tend to be substantially more at risk of misdiagnosis than men. What contributes to women experiencing a higher diagnostic error rate than men?
Medical professionals are humans who have their own innate biases just like anyone else. Unfortunately, a doctor’s personal feelings toward women may affect the standard of care that they provide. Doctors may be more likely to ignore women’s self-reported symptoms or to downplay pain and discomfort than they would be if the patient were male. Viewing someone as too emotional or unreliable inevitably affects how much weight the doctor gives someone’s self-reported symptoms.
Differences in symptoms
Women tend to experience certain major health issues very differently than men do. Strokes and heart attacks, for example, have significantly different symptoms and women than they do in men. Oftentimes, medical school training and textbooks focus on the male presentation of those conditions, meaning that women have a harder time getting an accurate diagnosis.
Higher pain tolerance
Women often deal with higher levels of pain without speaking up than men might. The phenomenon known as the “man cold” is an example of how male and female patients experience the same malady very differently. Men often require support and bed rest while reporting far worse symptoms when they have the same illness as women. Menstruation and other aspects of the female experience lead to them ignoring their own discomfort for longer than men would in the same situation.
Unfortunately, if someone does not receive an accurate diagnosis, they will not get the healthcare that they may require to improve. Overcoming the obstacles that make it more difficult for women to receive an accurate and timely diagnosis may benefit those concerned about the symptoms they’re currently experiencing.