One of the worst experiences that any New Jersey resident can have is being misdiagnosed. Sadly, this sometimes happens to patients who are obese. When doctors are biased, they can easily overlook the signs of a serious medical condition and write it off as obesity-related.
Understanding Weight Bias in Medicine
Doctors are supposed to be caring and attentive to their patients. However, that doesn’t always happen; they’re human, which means that some might have a bias against certain characteristics such as obesity. According to a study, some healthcare providers have stereotypes about people with obesity. This can result in subpar medical care and misdiagnosis when patients come to see doctors with legitimate health concerns.
Misdiagnosis Resulting From Bias
Patients with obesity often have negative experiences with doctors. One woman made an appointment to see her OB/GYN because of pelvic pain. In response, the doctor questioned her about her diet and whether she incorporated exercise into her daily routine. Instead of trying to give her a diagnosis, the doctor dismissed her concerns and told her that losing weight would help.
However, after an ultrasound, the woman learned that she had a tumor on one of her ovaries. At that point, the last thing the patient expected was to be the victim of medical malpractice, but the doctor wrote off her concerns about the growth. That was when she got a second opinion from a different doctor who didn’t share the biases of the first one.
Even if a misdiagnosis isn’t life-threatening, it can still have negative impacts on patients. In this woman’s case, she was left with infertility issues and needed assistance to conceive. Although her ovarian tumor was benign, it was large and required the removal of her ovary and part of her fallopian tube.
No patient should be made to feel unimportant just because of their size. Doctors have a duty to “first do no harm,” which means treating all patients equally and with respect.