When you have something going on with your health, you expect your medical provider to treat your concerns with respect and compassion – not dismiss or downplay them. Unfortunately, medical gaslighting isn’t uncommon. Medical gaslighting involves a healthcare provider trivializing a patient’s symptoms and experiences and, more often than not, suggesting that their problems are insignificant, imagined or exaggerated.
Over and over again, research indicates that the only surefire way to be heard in a medical office is to be White and male – because women and people of color are routinely treated as unreliable narrators of their own conditions.
Aside from making the victims question their own realities, medical gaslighting can also lead to medical malpractice. When a physician dismisses a patient’s concerns without looking any further, that can lead to delayed or missed diagnosis and all the harm that can inspire.
How can you spot medical gaslighting?
Knowing the signs of medical gaslighting can make it easier to advocate for yourself or your loved one. Some of the biggest red flags include:
- Your doctor blames all of your symptoms on your weight, without bothering to even consider other possibilities
- Your doctor seems to resent your attempts to be self-informed, dismissing anything you say as a product of “Dr. Google”
- Your doctor gets condescending or rude when you ask questions about the diagnosis they give you and want to know what else has been ruled out
- Your doctor refuses to order additional lab work or imaging tests because they don’t believe your symptoms are serious enough
- Your doctor diagnoses you with anxiety or depression without even bothering to refer you to a specialist for screening and, then, attributes all of your symptoms to mental illness
It can be difficult to overcome a provider’s deep-set biases or beliefs, so many patients find themselves either going from physician to physician in hopes of a diagnosis or just giving up – until their condition becomes drastically worse and impossible to deny.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of medical gaslighting or another form of medical malpractice, seeking legal guidance can help you explore your rights and hold the physician who caused your harm accountable.