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Understanding Medical Gaslighting and Its Dangers

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Today, more people are calling out medical gaslighting. Although it may affect minority groups more, it can happen to anyone in New Mexico. As individuals who experience it share their stories, it is easier for others to recognize this problematic behavior.

What is medical gaslighting?

Medical gaslighting is a type of malpractice. It occurs when a medical professional dismisses a patient’s symptoms or complaints and tells the individual that the symptoms are imagined or are happening because of a known psychological issue. Professionals are supposed to investigate patients’ symptoms and conduct proper testing. Medical gaslighting can be intentional or due to negligence.

What are the dangers of medical gaslighting?

Not all instances of this problem happen to people who have a known mental illness. A potential danger of medical gaslighting is patients developing anxiety or a mental health problem as a result of continual dismissive behavior from doctors and others. If this happens, those patients can be discredited even more.

The most significant danger is missing a serious health problem. For example, in one instance of medical gaslighting, a primary care doctor told a woman that her chest pains were from panic attacks. The woman had a history of depression and anxiety but took medications to manage the issues. She sought a second opinion, and a cardiologist discovered that she had a heart condition. While not all people seek a second opinion, everyone has the right to see another medical professional if they feel that a doctor is wrong or acts dismissive.

Some medical gaslighting victims suffer physical or psychological injuries before they realize the problem. In such cases, they may need to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in order to recover damages for injuries.

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