When we go to the doctor, we expect to receive sound, compassionate advice and treatment from a medical provider who has our health and best interests in mind. Unfortunately, as the healthcare industry deals with staff shortages and overburdened providers, medical malpractice can be common.

Medical malpractice occurs when the negligence of a healthcare professional leads to injury, because the professional acted improperly or failed to take appropriate action. And medical negligence can take many forms. Medical gaslighting, a particularly insidious form of medical malpractice, has made recent headlines.

As explained in a recent New York Times article (sub req’d), medical gaslighting refers to a healthcare provider’s dismissal of a patient’s concerns, and its incidence has increased in recent years. If you have been a victim of medical gaslighting, it is in your best interest to seek immediate legal counsel.

Signs of Medical Gaslighting

Since medical gaslighting is often subtle, it can be difficult to identify. Patients should familiarize themselves with these common signs of gaslighting to protect their health and rights. Common red flags of medical gaslighting include:

  • A provider who constantly interrupts you and doesn’t appear to actively listen when you speak.
  • A provider who downplays or dismisses your symptoms.
  • A provider who refuses to order lab or imaging work.
  • A provider who speaks to you condescendingly or rudely.
  • A provider who blames your symptoms on mental illness without referring you for mental health screening.
  • A provider who blames your symptoms on your weight and dismisses other possibilities.

Although medical gaslighting can happen to anyone, it disproportionately affects women, the LGBTQ community, people of color, and the elderly. For example, studies have shown that women are more likely to receive a misdiagnosis for autoimmune disorders and heart disease than their male counterparts. This often leads to a later diagnosis and delayed treatment, which may lead to irreparable injury. Another study found that doctors used negative descriptors like “noncompliant” more often in the health records of Black patients.

How Can You Advocate for Yourself?

Keep a journal of your medical history and treatment, logging as many details as possible. Include your symptoms, symptom triggers, and the severity and frequency of your pain. Also include medications, lab results, imaging results, and your family’s medical history. Bring this journal to every appointment so your provider has the complete picture of your health and medical history.

Prepare a list of questions and ask them all. If new questions arise during your appointment, ask them as well. Do not worry that you are bothering your doctor or wasting their time. This is their job.

When possible, bring someone with you. Besides providing emotional support, having a witness can be helpful if medical gaslighting or any other type of malpractice occurs during your visit.

Despite all your efforts, it’s in your best interest to switch providers if you feel you are still being ignored.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you have suffered harm due to medical gaslighting or another form of medical malpractice, seek immediate legal counsel from an injury attorney with specific malpractice experience. Besides recovering compensation for any harm you have suffered, reporting medical malpractice may prevent other patients from falling victim to this type of abuse and manipulation. Healthcare providers who act negligently should be held accountable. Get legal help today.