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Few women have ever read research or published articles which show that doctors treat female patients differently than they do their male patients.
Indeed, in countries such as the United States, where equality for women has been fought for and won in so many areas of life, it can be a hard pill to swallow when they realize that this is often the case.
There is an especially large body of research showing that women are treated differently when they show signs of heart disease, stroke and heart attack. For example:
An article in PubMed, US National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health, Women and men with coronary heart disease in three countries: are they treated differently? states; “Although patients with identical symptoms were presented, primary care doctors’ behavior differed by patients’ gender in all 3 countries under study. These gender differences suggest that women may be less likely to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment than men.”
An article in Estronaut A Forum For Women’s Health reads; “Doctors should be treating everyone equally and with the same quality of care. However, a recent study concluded that doctors’ decisions are, indeed, influenced by the sex and race of the patient.” And; “Black women were 60% less likely to be referred for cardiac surgery than were white males, even though they had an identical list of symptoms and results. Black males and white females were each 40% less likely to be recommended for the same surgery.”
In Forbes Health; More Women Dying Of Heart Disease, Yet Men Still Get More Treatment; Dr. Gulati, Cardiologist at the Ohio State University, states: “Women don’t get the same screening, preventive treatment, or life-saving medications or procedures.”
In The Area Of Chronic Pain, Doctors Treat Women Differently Than Men
I’ve received many emails from women who are so frustrated with their doctors that they are ready to throw them (along with their knee tapping percussion hammer) out the office window. Having explained their chronic pain symptoms in a clear manner, these women got absolutely nowhere.
I’m not sure there is anything more humiliating and infuriating than a doctor who says – in so many words – ‘there’s nothing wrong with you,’ when you know there is!
And to add insult to injury, when your husband goes to see the same doctor with basically the same complaints of chronic pain and the doctor sees his symptoms as legitimate problems – what do you do?
I think that Salon’s article, My Doctor Told Me It Was All In My Head; I might Have Died If I’d Believed Him says it well:
“For a successful resolution, communication between both parties must be clear. More important, it must be bolstered by a solid layer of trust. If you stop trusting your doctor for any reason – because they doubt your symptoms, because they’ve failed you in the past, because they don’t seem to empathize with your pain – suddenly you lose control of your life’s narrative. You feel powerless and alone…….Doctors are supposed to illuminate a path to wellness, but when they treat patients condescendingly instead of acting like the patient is an equal partner in the quest for health, they only serve to further diminish the patient’s sense of control.”
If you feel that your doctor treats you differently than he does his male patients and if sincere attempts at communication don’t reap results, I strongly suggest you find another doctor. This isn’t always easy. But it’s worth whatever trouble you have to go through to find another health care provider. After all, this person is supposed to be your partner in looking after your own health. What’s more important than that?
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