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Gender bias could cause diagnosis errors between women and men

Research points toward women experiencing more medical mistakes and misdiagnoses than men. Healthline reports that some physicians may disregard their female patients’ pain symptoms. Legitimate and serious issues could remain overlooked.

Doctors, for example, may provide their male patients with treatment or medication for pain symptoms. They may, however, instead offer women a recommendation for therapy. Mental health professionals may then dismiss a woman’s physical symptoms. By misdiagnosing female symptoms as depression or anxiety, practitioners could ignore serious health issues.

Both men and women may experience gender bias

A physician’s bias toward a patient’s gender may influence the outcome of medical treatment for either sex. While a doctor may view some female symptom complaints as “hysteria,” some male health issues may also go ignored.

A patient’s expressed symptoms of a migraine headache, for example, may receive a different diagnosis based on gender. Some medical professionals may believe that their female patients exaggerate their complaints. Men, however, may receive medical feedback based on an exaggeration of masculinity. Male patients may hear that they do not need treatment or medication; men have a greater tolerance for pain.

Women may face under-representation in medical research

As reported by, heart disease researchers typically conduct studies in which women represent less than one-third of the participants evaluated. During cancer trials, women account for only 38% of the subjects studied. Because of the lower numbers of women in studies, research reports could reflect biases that lean toward treating men. Doctors may misdiagnose female patients based on research conducted primarily with male subjects.

A wrong or missed diagnosis may result in a serious medical condition remaining untreated. The consequences could lead to patients facing life-threatening illnesses or injuries. Affected patients of either gender may require a legal action to recover from the harm caused.

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