Sexism, gaslighting and medicine: What women should know

On Behalf of | May 2, 2024 | Personal Injury

Despite all the gains that have been made to address gender disparities in many different areas of life, sexism is still very much embedded in modern health care – and women are suffering because of it.

When women seek medical care for whatever ails them, they’re looking for compassion, experience and professionalism. All too often, they encounter gaslighting, dismissal of their concerns and inadequate treatment, instead. 

How bad is sexism in health care?

Sexism, or “gender bias,” in medicine is often downplayed, but it has very real consequences for patients. The vast majority of clinical trials are done on men, which leads to a fundamental lack of understanding about how diseases manifest differently in women. This knowledge gap makes it harder for women to get accurate diagnoses and treatment – and it subtly perpetuates the idea that women’s health concerns are less significant than those of men.

Plus, the medical world tends to either stigmatize or trivialize certain “women’s issues,” like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome and menopause. Women are told to lose weight, get treatment for depression or anxiety or just learn to deal with the difficulties of “being female” without so much complaint. Meanwhile:

  • Heart disease claims far more women’s lives than breast cancer, but women are still more likely to be misdiagnosed than men when they’re having a heart attack.
  • Women are twice as likely to die as men within a year of a heart attack, and less likely to be given preventative treatment than their male counterparts.
  • It takes the average woman with endometriosis seven to 10 years to get an accurate diagnosis because they are frequently dismissed as nervous, depressed or just told to lose weight.
  • Even though 75% of people with autoimmune disorders are women, 40% of those women have been told they’re simply hypochondriacs or worrying over nothing.
  • It takes the average woman with diabetes 4.5 years longer than the average man to get a diagnosis – and 2.5 years longer to get a cancer diagnosis. 

In short, the sexism that women patients encounter can easily lead to tragedy. If you or your loved one experienced an adverse medical outcome because of gender bias, it may be time to find out more about your legal options.

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