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Women faces medical sexism that's dangerous

If you're female and you develop medical problems where the cause is not immediately obvious, you're likely to experience a sort of gender bias that you wouldn't expect until you've been there. You may find that neither the doctor nor the nurses you're dealing with take your pain or symptoms seriously simply because you're female.

If you're young, you're probably experiencing stress and are just "high-strung." If you're middle-aged, you're probably depressed and anxious. If you're older, you're probably just bored and looking for attention. These are common assumptions made by too many in the medical profession.

It's a terrible reality that too many women are familiar with -- and it can seriously endanger their lives when what they're experiencing is a true emergency. Instead of getting emergency care, they're treated like recalcitrant children who won't sit still and wait their turn. Those who try to insist on faster treatment are brushed off, seen as melodramatic, condescended toward and hushed.

Nurses and doctors alike don't hesitate to let them know that they feel annoyed with women who won't sit still and behave because they don't believe the pain is really that bad until an x-ray or test confirms it.

In the medical community, the fact that women too often have to prove they're as sick as men with the same symptoms in order to get the right care is called "Yentl Syndrome." Women sometimes just call it "Diagnosis Female."

One husband wrote of the humiliating, torturous and nearly deadly "treatment" his wife received when she suffered an acute torsion of her ovary due to a massive cyst. Any chance to save the ovary was lost as they were left to languish in the halls of an overcrowded hospital for hours.

When a doctor finally did look at her, he dismissed her complaints as kidney stones and gave her pain medication. He did order a test to confirm the diagnosis, but never bothered to look at the results. When the husband begged the next doctor on shift to actually look at the results the reaction was swift. Surgery saved his wife's life but not her ovary.

If you're a woman who has suffered needless harm because gender bias kept you from getting treatment, or you're a surviving family member of a woman who died as a result, talk to an attorney about a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Source: The Atlantic, "How Doctors Take Women's Pain Less Seriously," Joe Fassler, accessed Aug. 18, 2017

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