Medical professionals may have years of schooling and have taken an oath to provide care to their patients, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to human biases. In fact, those working in the medical profession may be more prone to certain kinds of discrimination than individuals in other professions.
Even at a time when the majority of Americans are overweight and a significant number are obese, many physicians will shame, judge or discriminate against overweight patients. Fat-shaming practices by medical professionals may lead to overweight patients not coming back when they have symptoms because they don’t want to feel humiliated when the doctor tells them to lose weight.
Even worse, that bias can lead to physicians claiming that every symptom in an overweight person must stem from their weight. That can very easily lead to a misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose.
Not every health problem stems from a visible cause
When a patient report depression, pain, joint issues, digestive symptoms or a wide range of other symptoms, that could be a sign of anything ranging from a cancerous growth to conditions like Crohn’s disease. Patients of every size should be able to rely on their physicians to make sense of their symptoms and help them reach a reasonable diagnosis.
That process should include ruling out possible causes for symptoms before reaching a diagnosis. Unfortunately for overweight people, their doctors might just assume that their diet, their weight or a lack of exercise is the only thing influencing their symptoms. Doctors often recommend weight loss and won’t seriously consider the patient’s symptoms until they comply.
Sadly, patients can suffer more than emotional pain from such behavior. They can suffer years of unnecessary pain from an untreated medical condition and potentially have a worse medical outcome because of that unnecessary delay in diagnosis. When that happens, it may be wise to speak to someone about the possibility of a medical malpractice claim.