How Medical Gaslighting Can Lead to Malpractice

Doctors, like everyone else, have their own preconceived ideas (some might say prejudices) about various people. These may be based on their experiences or the time and environment in which they were raised. When those prejudices cause them to take some patients less seriously than others to the point where they don’t do the required diagnostic work when someone complains of symptoms, that can be dangerous.

The problem of “medical gaslighting” has gotten more attention lately as some people – particularly women – have shared remarkably similar stories of doctors not taking them seriously. The term “gaslight” originated with a play, later followed by a movie, about a man who attempted to drive his wife insane by constantly denying reality. Gaslighting can be a destructive psychological maneuver. However, people often do it just because they’re more convinced of their own beliefs than what someone else is experiencing.

As noted, some groups are more likely to have doctors ignore or minimize their symptoms to the point where they don’t investigate them. Besides women, older people are often victims. Doctors (particularly younger ones) sometimes think seniors complain about every ache and pain. Obese people often say doctors blame their symptoms on their weight without looking any further

Behaviors that should concern you

Whether you want to call it medical gaslighting or not, here are a few signs that your doctor may not be taking your symptoms seriously and neglecting their diagnostic responsibilities:

  • They interrupt you to tell you what the problem is before you’ve even finished describing your symptoms.
  • They don’t do any testing or examination to explore potential causes of your symptoms.
  • They tell you that the symptoms are caused by stress or some other mental or emotional issue.

If your doctor does any (or all) of these things – especially if they have a habit of it – it may be time to look for another doctor. Meanwhile, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself or bring along someone who will help you do that. Don’t stop trusting what your body is telling you.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm because a doctor failed to perform even basic diagnostic testing or failed to do the warranted tests, it may be wise to seek legal guidance to determine whether you have cause for a medical malpractice claim.

Categories: Medical Malpractice