Have you ever been the victim of medical profiling?
The odds are good that you may have been — even if you didn’t realize it at the time. Medical profiling occurs when a doctor makes assumptions about you based on his or her personal prejudices due to your age, gender, race, education, income, occupation or looks.
For example, many young women have felt that their doctors treat them somewhat dismissively when they try to address their concerns. A young woman with head pain may have a serious disorder, like chronic daily migraine, only to be told that she’s just “high-strung.”
People with certain psychiatric disorders often face medical discrimination if a doctor can’t identify the cause of their symptoms. A patient with bipolar disorder who is having chest pains might be told to seek psychiatric care instead of being given the cardiac testing that someone else without bipolar disorder would receive.
Medical profiling can happen due to all sorts of reasons. For example:
- Male patients who look rough, have tattoos, or work in tough occupations report being profiled as drug abusers — without any evidence to support that conclusion.
- One patient reported being treated poorly when he had no insurance — but treated exceptionally well by the same staff when he had another injury after getting insurance. He felt like he was profiled as a “deadbeat” the first time because he was too poor to have insurance.
- Female patients report being treated as ignorant and unable to understand their reproductive choices simply because they’re young.
When does profiling become medical malpractice?
When it ends up causing the doctor to miss something obvious or violate the basic standards of care that he or she would have followed if the prejudice hadn’t gotten in the way.
For example, if a woman who is already overweight complains about new, unusual weight gain is profiled as simply “lazy” and told to exercise, her doctor may miss a serious kidney malfunction. If the doctor would have normally given a thinner patient blood testing instead of a lecture on how to eat and exercise, that patient may have suffered irreversible harm by the time the real problem is found.
If you’ve been harmed by medical profiling, talk to an attorney. For more information on how our firm approaches medical malpractice cases and how we might be able to help, please visit our page.