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The Dangers Of Medical Gaslighting

Have you ever attempted to deliver critical information to someone, only to find that you cannot get anyone to listen? While we frequently hear children complain that no one listens to them, it can also be a problem in the adult world. Even worse, there are times that others listen to your message, only to attempt to minimize or dismiss it by convincing you that your concerns are imaginary or unimportant.

In many cases, these communication issues, while annoying, do not cause harm. However, in other instances, important information that is improperly dismissed can lead to medical malpractice, injury and death. This blog post will discuss “medical gaslighting,” its dangers, and how you can protect yourself.

What Do “Gaslighting” and “Medical Gaslighting” Mean?

The general term “gaslighting” is used by psychologists to describe behavior by someone to manipulate another person (or group of people) into questioning their perceptions, memory, or reality. It can happen in many different circumstances, including work and personal relationships. The term came from a play-turned-movie called “Gaslight,” in which a husband attempts to manipulate his wife into believing she has mental issues.

“Medical gaslighting” refers to the idea that a person’s healthcare concerns are being dismissed, ignored or minimized. There is not usually a sinister motive as there is in the movie from which the name is derived. Instead, medical gaslighting may result from negligence rather than intentional conduct. However, the results can be extremely harmful.

Example of Medical Gaslighting

A prime example of medical gaslighting occurs when a patient complains of pain or discomfort that they know is real, only to be convinced that symptoms are being imagined. Similarly, medical gaslighting can occur when legitimate complaints are brushed off as “minor” or inconsequential. Unfortunately, this conduct can lead to delayed or missed diagnoses and the failure to provide the needed medical treatment.

Women and Minorities May Be Most at Risk

Indeed, medical gaslighting can happen to anyone. According to Prevention magazine, medical gaslighting leads to misdiagnosis in about 1 out of 7 patients, but more often with women than men. For example, the publication cites research indicating that a woman’s probability of misdiagnosis is an astounding 50 percent higher following a heart attack. Medical gaslighting can also disproportionately affect cases involving women’s reproductive health. In addition, research suggests that people of color are more likely to experience medical gaslighting.

Steps to Take to Protect Yourself

If you believe you are being medically gaslighted, GoodRx Health suggests the following steps for dealing with the situation:

  • Prepare a written list of questions.
  • Keep a journal of your symptoms.
  • Take someone you trust with you to your medical appointment.
  • Obtain a second opinion.
  • Use a patient advocate.
  • When appropriate, file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
  • Understand your legal rights.

Medical gaslighting, intentional or negligent, can lead to a lawsuit for medical malpractice. If you have suffered from medical malpractice, you will want to explore your options and take steps toward recovery.

Call with Questions

If you believe that an injury you’ve incurred resulted from medical gaslighting, you will likely have questions about your legal rights. The experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are here to answer them. We know how to investigate and evaluate your claim and can help you make an informed legal decision. We represent injury victims all across Oregon because we believe that the only way to make society safer for everyone is to hold negligent wrongdoers accountable for their actions. Please, call for a consultation to get started.