Misdiagnosis in women and causes
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Misdiagnosis in women and causes

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

While medical care has advanced, many people still get misdiagnosed in Columbia, South Carolina. Stats estimate one in 20 people in the United States get misdiagnosed annually, which is equal to around 12 million. However, there are some groups more at risk of getting misdiagnosed, which include women.

Misdiagnosis in women: Stats and facts

Misdiagnosis occurs when the doctor finds a condition but wrongly diagnoses it, which could be medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when the doctor doesn’t uphold a basic standard of care another competent doctor would have followed.

A study from 2016 shows women have a 50% more chance of getting a misdiagnosis for a heart attack and 33% for a stroke. It can take women up to five years before they get a correct diagnosis for auto-immune disorders. Death rates in hospitals for women who have heart attacks are higher than for men, especially in women under 50.

Reasons for misdiagnosis

A misdiagnosis usually is caused by conditions or diseases with similar symptoms, incompetence, or lack of patient records. However, patient bias plays a key role, dating back to ancient times when women got diagnosed with female hysteria. Female hysteria was a catch-all term used for a variety of symptoms, and it still got applied until 1980.

Certain conditions like heart attacks are viewed as “man” problems or “old people” problems, and women are often seen as “too emotional”. Women’s issues are also viewed as “mysterious,” and men have long been used as the standard protocol for diagnosis. For example, heart attack symptoms present differently in women than men, such as lack of chest pressure, sweating, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

While doctors don’t have to be perfect, they should follow basic treatment protocols. Patients may sue for damages, but they must prove some elements to have a case. Most all medical malpractice lawsuits require expert testimony from a doctor in the same field.