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Women are misdiagnosed more often than men

Aug 28, 2017 | Failure to Diagnose

Many New Yorkers are aware that misdiagnosis is a major problem in the United States. However, they may not be aware that women are more likely to be misdiagnosed than men.

For example, a 2016 study found that women are 50 percent more likely to be misdiagnosed after suffering a heart attack, and they are 30 percent more likely to receive the wrong diagnosis after having a stroke. Meanwhile, women wait around five years to be correctly diagnosed with autoimmune diseases and up to 10 years to learn that they have endometriosis.

Why do doctors sometimes have a harder time diagnosing women than they do men? According to some observers, it has to do with the way women communicate with doctors and the way doctors are taught to respond to women. For instance, women often communicate their symptoms to doctors by adding personal stories and details that describe how symptoms are impacting their lives. Unfortunately, some doctors view this type of communication as too "emotional" and use it as an excuse to write off a woman’s symptoms as stress, missing the true diagnosis. While this is not the fault of the patient, women are advised to protect themselves by sticking to the facts when describing symptoms. Female patients can also help with their own diagnosis by researching symptoms on the internet and confidently asking questions during exams and medical procedures. Having a female doctor can also be helpful.

A doctor’s failure to diagnose an illness could have serious consequences for a patient regardless of gender. People who have suffered harm as a result may want to meet with a medical malpractice lawyer to discuss their situation.

Source: Glamour, "Why Are So Many Women Being Misdiagnosed?", Kelly Mickle, Aug. 11, 2017