Doctor visits are, at minimum, an annual experience for most adults. However, regardless of a proactive approach to health, statistics suggest medical professionals often fail to diagnose specific conditions in women.
Misdiagnosis is the most common reason for medical malpractice claims. A provider’s inadequate physical exam or patient assessment may be to blame, in addition to improper test orders and follow-ups. Yet, studies suggest women continue to receive sub-par care.
Misdiagnosis among women
Despite women’s fight for equality, there seems to be plenty of room for advancement in health care. Women tend to have a higher risk of misdiagnosis than men – in some cases, going years without proper treatment.
Historically, white men participated in medical research, and practitioners relied on those results as the baseline for treatment.
Recent advancements in the field shed light on metabolic differences between male and female bodies. Yet, disparity continues – especially in Black women’s care – as clinicians may lack education about how symptoms might present, or a potential difference in prescription dosages.
Along with implicit biases among medical professionals, how men and women relay their concerns during a rushed appointment may factor into statistics. Still, no matter the reason for diagnostic errors, licensed professionals have a responsibility to their patients.
Known misdiagnoses among women include potentially life-threatening conditions such as:
- Breast cancer
- Heart disease
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Autoimmune diseases
- Ovarian cancer
- Sleep apnea
While a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine might be nice, it’s not the reality. Symptoms could often be indicative of numerous different illnesses.
As such, patients typically expect a treatment plan that not only makes them feel better but also increases their lifespan. In cases where this doesn’t happen, doctors may be held accountable.