Hey Doc, That’s My Daughter You’re Talking About
April 2, 2018
BY: Domhnall O'Cathain
Gender Inequality in New Jersey Medicine
A controversial new book tells us that women and girls get better medical care when there is a man in the room, and we’re not talking about when the doctor is a man.
Maya Dusenbery is a woman who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis when she was in her 20s. She was one of the “lucky” women, as she was diagnosed early. But it got her thinking: why were so many women with the same problems not diagnosed earlier?
“I’m exhausted all the time doctor. I’m sleeping. But I’m just wiped out. And I’m sore. What’s wrong?”
What were a lot of doctors saying to these other women? : “You’re stressed. You have three kids and you’re working. This is life for a working mother.”
It might well be stress. But, as Dusenbery learned, it might also be an autoimmune disease.
Doctors Not Treating Men and Women The Same
Dusenberry started investigating more to see if there was gender biases in medicine. For example, she wanted to know if doctors were listening to men and women the same way.
The answer? No!
When a woman brings a male, even her son, to the doctor, she gets better treatment.
But what if the woman is a doctor? Didn’t matter. Men were taken more seriously whether or not the doctor was a man or woman.
Historically, medicine has favored males: doctors were mostly men; women were not involved in many drug trials because of dangers to having a child; a lot of research focused on diseases that kill more men than women.
Think about the older white guy and his heart condition. If he has chest pain, shortness of breath, and feels light headed, the doctor will probably send him to the E.R.
Compare that to a woman under 55 who tells her doctor that she has pain in her arms, has been sweating, and feels flui-sh. She’s seven times more likely to be sent home even though she might be actually having a heart attack!
That’s frightening. Any other examples?
The Prescription Medication Issue
Dusenbery tells us that a lot of women are overdosed when taking drugs. Why? Because drugs are usually prescribed in a “one-size-fits-all” way. Doctors can forget that drugs will affect a woman differently because she is probably lighter, less body fat, and different enzymes.
The woman takes the pills, but she now has different complaints without knowing that they are caused from overdosing. The doctor might think that there’s not much to do to help the woman or that the woman is just being dramatic, or both.
Dusenbery even tells the story of a woman who was relieved to hear that she had cancer because she now knew that she wasn’t crazy when she complained about the pain.
So, do I now need to bring my nephew to my OB/GYN appointment? No, that is not necessary.
What you should do is remember that doctors can make mistakes. If you are not comfortable with a diagnosis or the treatment of your doctor, seek a second opinion, or a third opinion …
The “craziest” thing is not to listen to yourself.
The book is Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women, Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick by Maya Dusenberry.
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