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Being a woman means more risk for diagnostic mistakes

Medical doctors learn all about the human body and about the various diseases that can affect it. They use that information to help their patients stay healthy and diagnose the conditions causing symptoms that their patients experience.

Unfortunately, sometimes doctors make mistakes while diagnosing a patient. Some people are at higher risk than others for falling victim to these mistakes, and women are one of the most at-risk groups. How common are diagnostic errors when it comes to women’s health?

Doctors can miss major medical issues in women

Most medical research and therefore medical textbooks treat the male body as standard. Doctors learn about how various medical issues present in men, not necessarily how they show up in women. The difference in symptoms contributes to women going without a quick diagnosis when it is absolutely critical.

Did you know that a doctor is 50% more likely to make a diagnostic mistake when a woman has a cardiac event as compared to a man? A woman also has substantially more risk (30% more) for a doctor ignoring the symptoms of a stroke. Even cancers can often go undiagnosed for longer, as doctors are more likely to ignore the self-reported symptoms of women than they are to downplay the same symptoms when reported by male patients.

All of this adds up to a substantially higher risk for female patients to go without a proper diagnosis when they have major medical issues. Recognizing the warning signs of a diagnostic mistake can help you pursue a medical malpractice claim when a doctor’s error hurts your health.