Physicians are generally skilled, educated professionals with an obligation to provide services to patients regardless of their background or other factors, and most people expect doctors to act in more compassionate and balanced ways than the average citizen because of their education and profession.
However, no matter how much schooling someone has, they may still have internal biases that affect the way that they interact with the public. Research has repeatedly shown that a gender bias is commonly present in medical settings, regardless of the gender of the physician providing care.
Female patients are more likely to have a doctor ignore their symptoms or fail to diagnose them in a timely manner when compared with male patients who have a similar condition. Delayed diagnosis has a host of consequences for patients, including worse prognosis and fewer options for care, which is one reason that the diagnostic gender divide is so worrisome.
Certain conditions and issues in women are more likely to go undiagnosed
Although there is plenty of information readily available about the fact that heart disease often prevents different symptoms in women than in men, physicians often seem to overlook this important information when discussing symptoms with patients.
Women who need immediate medical attention could wind up discharged or set home without adequate review, even when they experience something as serious as a heart attack or stroke. In fact, when it comes to stroke, female patients are 30% more likely to go undiagnosed, while women with heart disease or heart attacks are more likely to die in hospitals than men.
Additionally, doctors seem to have less regard for women who report significant pain symptoms. Physicians may be less likely to take these symptoms seriously or aggressively pursue resolving them. Untreated pain is one of many symptoms that can impact a patient’s ability to recover from a medical event.
Taking action when you suspect gender bias
If you have been in the untenable situation of going weeks or months without an accurate diagnosis because your physician didn’t listen to you adequately, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Issues with failing to diagnose patients are among the most common malpractice claims brought in the United States, and you may want to hold a doctor accountable if they didn’t provide an adequate diagnosis.