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  • Writer's pictureDr. Benson Evans

Medical Gaslighting

April 16, 2024


Medical Gaslighting is not a concept that we here much about. However, it is one of the most prevalent defects in the physician’s world. I’ll start with the technical definition of medical gaslighting which is it “is a form of emotional abuse that occurs when a medical professional misleads or denies a patient’s illness, or attributes their symptoms to something else, such as psychological factors and can include: Dismissing symptoms, lack of empathy, or blaming the patient, attributing the cause to mental health.


Women and minorities are especially susceptible to medical gaslighting which can overlap misdiagnosis. Research suggests diagnostic errors occur in up to one in seven interactions between doctors and patients and higher in minorities.


Today, my partner Bob, received the serious diagnosis of severe Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency. Basically, he was told that his pancreas is ‘dead’. His symptoms of extreme gastrointestinal distress, fatigue and diabetes had continued for many years, probably at least fifteen. Every doctor he consulted with dismissed his symptoms as one thing or the other without the intent to investigate further what might be the cause. It wasn’t until he consulted with a local Rheumatologist whose specialty is not gastrointestinal issues decided to delve further into his symptoms. Low and behold his Pancreatic Elastase -1 is 27 when normal is, at minimum over 200. It was also found that his pancreas showed calcifications which will be further evaluated with an MRI.


Although we are relieved there is an answer to his symptoms we can’t help and wonder why this wasn’t detected through the years. Why? In my opinion, two reasons:


  1.  The physicians he consulted with were not experienced enough to continue searching for the problem.

  2. Bob should have been more insistent with the physician who was evaluating him at that time.


This is why, in my book, I am firm on making sure we advocate for ourselves. No one is perfect, not even physicians, so we must help them along by insisting better attention to our symptoms.


              DO NOT STOP ADVOCATING FOR BETTER CARE FOR YOURSELF.



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