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Dismissal of female pain leads to frequent misdiagnoses

When women arrive at emergency rooms in Oklahoma and report severe abdominal pain, they will wait an average of 65 minutes for treatment compared to 49 minutes for men. If the problem is a heart attack, doctors will misdiagnose the condition in women seven times more often than men will. Frequently, doctors decide that women have mental health problems instead of legitimate physical complaints.

The medical profession has a long history of attributing female complaints to emotions instead of actual medical conditions. This entrenched bias has skewed medical research. Pain studies make use of male mice or men 80 percent of the time, although 70 percent of people complaining of chronic pain are women. It was 2016 before the medical community recognized a study that confirmed that menstrual cramps could hurt as much as a heart attack even though one in seven women report debilitating menstrual pain.

Since female pain is widely dismissed by the medical community, women often suffer the consequences for years, even decades. One woman spent 15 years visiting numerous doctors before receiving a diagnosis for fibromyalgia. Doctors tended to blame her reports of pain on personal problems. They believed she wanted attention and recommended psychiatric treatment.

When a doctor does not investigate the symptoms a patient reports, harm could arise because a disease could go untreated, or the person might receive unnecessary treatments for the wrong condition. This scenario could fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice. A consultation with an attorney could inform a person about the potential of collecting damages with a lawsuit. A lawyer could solicit an independent medical opinion to build a case and manage negotiations with the responsible party. If a settlement does not emerge, then an attorney could prepare the case for presentation at court.