Are You Experiencing Medical Gaslighting?
Have you ever visited a healthcare provider seeking help for your symptoms, only to be brushed off and told that it’s all in your head or there’s nothing wrong with you? This situation is an example of medical gaslighting. The phenomenon occurs when healthcare providers dismiss patients’ concerns or complaints without adequately addressing them−leaving patients feeling confused or “crazy.”
The groups below are more likely to experience medical gaslighting, which can lead to delayed diagnoses, inadequate treatment, and other negative health outcomes:
- People of color
- The LGBTQ+ community
- Individuals with reproductive health problems
- Those who are overweight or obese
- Young teens and children
What does medical gaslighting look like?
It happens when your doctor or healthcare provider:
- Doesn’t engage in conversation or fails to listen to your concerns
- Doesn’t write down your complaints
- Makes it difficult to get a referral or offers excuses why they cannot give you one
- Refuses to discuss your symptoms
- Negatively stereotypes about gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, age
- Interrupts or shuts down your complaints
- Tries to convince you that it’s all in your head
- Questions your memory
- Blames you for your symptoms
- Forces you to argue to be heard and taken seriously
How Medical Gaslighting Affected a Woman from Cincinnati
In January this year, Amanda Buschelman, a 42-year-old woman from Cincinnati, started documenting her experiences after medical professionals dismissed her appendicitis as an ovarian cyst. Amanda knew this was impossible since she had undergone surgery to remove her ovaries a decade ago. “He looked at me like I was a complete moron. He mansplained to me how, ‘Well, I’m sure if you had a hysterectomy, they don’t take your ovaries,’” she says.
Her struggle and pain intensified as she sought other medical opinions, eventually being told she had a tumor. Her options were to wait and watch or schedule surgery to remove the mass. Amanda opted for surgery and it was not until after she underwent surgery that she was told she had suffered from appendicitis.
“What if the next woman leaves the doctor and doesn’t trust their own body? Amanda says. “Or doesn’t follow up because they don’t know to?”
Despite the stress and difficulty of her journey, Amanda hopes to empower other women by sharing her story and urging them to speak up when they sense that something is wrong with their bodies.
If you suspect that your doctor is gaslighting you, there are several steps you can take:
- Keep a symptom journal: Writing down your symptoms in detail, including when they occur and what makes them better or worse, can provide a comprehensive report to share with your doctor during appointments.
- Prepare a list of questions: Having a list of questions ready can help you address any concerns or issues you may have forgotten to mention.
- Bring a trusted friend or relative: Having someone you trust accompany you to appointments can provide support and act as a witness to what happens during the visit.
- Seek a second opinion: Consulting with another medical professional can offer a fresh perspective and help address any doubts or suspicions you may have about your doctor’s diagnosis or treatment.
- Consider filing a complaint: If your concerns are not addressed or taken seriously, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. If your health is compromised, seeking legal advice and exploring your options is vital.
Black Doctor Dies of COVID-19 After Racist Treatment
In 2020, Dr. Susan Moore shared a video online in which she claimed to have been denied medication for chest pain related to COVID-19. In the video posted on her Facebook page, she asserted that her treating physician repeatedly ignored her pain complaints and told her he felt uncomfortable giving her more narcotics. Dr. Moore said, “He made me feel like I was a drug addict” she added, “if I was white, I wouldn’t have to go through that.”
Despite being discharged from the hospital, she was rushed back 12 hours later to a different hospital due to a spike in temperature and falling blood pressure. Tragically, two weeks later, Dr. Moore passed away from complications related to COVID-19.
Contact Elk + Elk
If you believe that a loved one has suffered injury or death due to medical malpractice, it’s best to contact an Ohio medical malpractice attorney to see if you have a viable claim for a lawsuit. Let Elk + Elk review your claim by calling 1-800-ELK-OHIO for a no-cost private consultation or by filling out our online contact form.