Medical professionals have their work cut out for them when it comes to detecting and diagnosing disease. Even with the help of modern medical technology, it’s sometimes next to impossible to recognize the signs of certain conditions. However, when patients tell doctors that they’re in pain or discomfort, that can be a helpful tool to assist the doctor in getting to the root of the problem. Thus, does it count as medical malpractice for a doctor to ignore or dismiss a woman’s descriptions of her pain?
The problem with reports of female pain
There are some indications that suggest that, on average, doctors tend to receive reports of female pain differently than they do of male pain. Sometimes, this can result in conditions worsening when they would have been less severe if addressed earlier.
For example, when women report abdominal pain in an emergency room, on average they wait around 16 minutes longer than men for treatment. This suggests that the emergency room personnel tend to assume that the situation is less severe, or that the reports of pain are exaggerated.
The standard for medical malpractice
Medical malpractice is more severe than a doctor simply making a mistake. If you were to bring a lawsuit against a doctor simply because you didn’t like their methods or thought that they made a minor mistake, you likely wouldn’t succeed. True medical malpractice involves a gross deviation from the professional standard to which our society holds doctors.
For example, if a doctor dismisses a woman’s pain – and her condition worsens untreated as a result – and the woman decides to bring a malpractice suit, her attorney would have to prove several factors.
First, they would have to prove that the doctor owed a duty to the client to follow the standard of care that every doctor must give to their clients. Next, they would have to prove that the doctor grossly deviated from that standard by doing something that the average competent doctor would never do. Lastly, they would have to show that the woman suffered an injury, and that the injury was the direct result of the doctor’s deviation from the standard.
Despite the fact that a medical professional has a very challenging job, there are certain standards that they must comply with when caring for patients. Dismissing a woman’s pain too early might give rise to valid justification for a medical malpractice lawsuit.