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Your gender could impact the odds of a misdiagnosis

On Behalf of | Dec 25, 2023 | Misdiagnosis

A misdiagnosis can be highly detrimental in a hospital setting. Someone may be having an emergency, such as a heart attack. If a doctor tells them that they’re just suffering from heartburn and sends them home, that person won’t get the emergency care they need and the heart attack could progress until they pass away.

But what causes the doctor to make this diagnosis? There are many potential reasons – distraction, lack of training, miscommunication, etc – but it’s interesting to note that one of them may be your gender. To continue with the hypothetical example above of a heart attack, studies find that doctors misdiagnose female heart attacks much more often than male heart attacks. Women are certainly still at risk of suffering from heart attacks, and that risk may actually be greater because they often don’t get the medical care that they need.

Why does this happen?

The issue is that medical events do not impact people the same way in all cases. But a doctor who doesn’t pay attention to that specific case could overlook key symptoms.

For example, while men will often reference crushing chest pain or an inability to breathe while having a heart attack, women may not. They may mention things like back pain, jaw pain, heartburn or feeling dizzy. They may suffer from nausea or general discomfort. They could feel lightheaded and fatigued.

When a doctor sees these symptoms, they may not even think of a heart attack if they are only looking for chest pain. They would diagnose that heart attack quickly with a male patient who presented the expected symptoms, but they could make a misdiagnosis with a female patient. Those who have suffered harm – or lost a loved one – due to these types of mistakes made by medical professionals need to know how they can seek financial compensation.