Does Gender Bias Lead to More Misdiagnoses in Women?

Published on

Medical research trials and treatments have historically been male-focused. When studying illnesses and treatments, medical schools and research studies use an archetypal patient, which is a 154-pound white male. However, this prototype can be significantly inaccurate in regard to the diagnosis and treatment of female patients.

Over the last two decades, several significant studies have brought attention to this issue and the effects of gender bias on women. A 2001 Massachusetts Institute of Health study found significant gender differences in various bodily functions, including liver metabolism, kidney function, hormonal influences, and stomach enzymes. This means that women experience medical conditions differently and exhibit symptoms differently than men. It also means that a female’s body may react differently to traditional medical treatments.

When physicians fail to properly diagnose a condition due to medical bias, it may be a form of medical malpractice that leads to grave, and even fatal, consequences. Our experienced Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys have seen many of these unfortunate cases and understand how a misdiagnosis can affect serious medical conditions.

Traditional Heart Disease Treatments are Ineffective for Female Patients

Current methods of diagnosing heart disease have shown to be inadequate for female patients. The treadmill stress tests that doctors typically rely on use a scoring system that was developed based on the physical makeup of a middle-aged man. Women often receive inaccurate results from these tests, according to a report by AARP. The treatments often prescribed to patients also affect women differently. For example, low-dose aspirin regimens can reportedly increase the risk of stomach bleeding in female patients and is ineffective at preventing a first heart attack.

Female Patients with Type 2 Diabetes often Receive Inadequate Treatment

Females with Type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk for a fatal heart attack. Yet, they reportedly receive inadequate care for these risk factors and other diabetes-related conditions. In addition, typical diabetes medications are often ineffective at helping women reach their appropriate blood glucose levels. Female diabetics also experience kidney disease in greater numbers and suffer from related depression.

Take Steps to Protect Yourself from Gender Bias Misdiagnosis

It is important for women to protect themselves from dangerous cases of misdiagnosis. Consider implementing the following steps to promote proper medical treatment:

  • Learn gender specific symptoms. Women often exhibit different medical signs that may go overlooked. Learn the symptoms of serious conditions in females, so you can better recognize them in yourself.
  • Get medical care immediately. Make sure you see your physician regularly, and if something feels wrong, seek medical care right away.
  • Ask for what you need. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Some tests are not suited to female symptoms. Talk with your physician about your concerns and request testing that provides more accurate results for female patients.

Advocating for Female Patients when the Medical Profession Fails them

Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. is an award-winning, medical malpractice law firm with offices in Baltimore, MD and Washington D.C. Put our expertise to work by contacting us at 410-234-1000 or filling out a contact form.