Is Medical Gaslighting Malpractice in Illinois? | Staver
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Is Medical Gaslighting Malpractice in Illinois?

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Medical Malpractice

If you’ve walked out of a doctor’s office feeling like your concerns weren’t taken seriously, you may be a victim of medical gaslighting. While it’s not considered malpractice, medical gaslighting can quickly lead to medical malpractice if it harms a patient.

Read on to learn more about medical gaslighting and when it can lead to malpractice. Learn how to recover compensation if you or a loved one has been harmed by a negligent healthcare provider in Illinois.

What is Medical Gaslighting?

Medical gaslighting occurs when a medical professional minimizes or dismisses a patient’s concerns. They often attribute their symptoms to other factors like obesity or anxiety.

Here are some common signs that your doctor or other health care provider may be gaslighting you:

  • They don’t listen to you, look at you, or display any sympathy.
  • They frequently interrupt you.
  • Their answers don’t address your health concerns.
  • They poke fun or laugh at you when you express your concerns.
  • They blame you for your symptoms, i.e., saying your condition is due to a lack of self-care.
  • They argue that your symptoms are mental or “all in your head.”
  • Their treatment suggestions seem wildly inappropriate and unhelpful.
  • They rush you through the appointment.
  • They question the accuracy of your medical history, the severity of your symptoms, etc.
  • You feel ashamed, embarrassed, “over-dramatic,” or guilty after the appointment.

Who is at Risk for Medical Gaslighting?

Anyone can be a victim of medical gaslighting and its disastrous effects. However, women and BIPOC patients experience the highest rates of medical gaslighting than other groups.

When analyzing emergency department records across the U.S., researchers discovered that Black, AAPI, and Latino people were more likely to have their stroke symptoms misdiagnosed than white patients.

Studies also show that women are more likely to be seen as hysterical, sensitive, or “time-wasters” by medical professionals. They are more than twice as likely to have their physical symptoms attributed to a mental health condition than men. Women receive 25% fewer painkillers in emergency rooms and hospitals.

Unfortunately, bias in the medical field is a widespread issue. Many marginalized groups are at-risk. Elderly patients, LGBTQ+ patients, and those with stigmatized conditions such as mental illness are also commonly gaslit by health care professionals.

When is Medical Gaslighting Considered Malpractice?

If you were dismissed by a negligent health care professional, you may have a claim for compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, their actions only constitute medical malpractice if the following elements are met:

  1. You had a doctor-patient relationship;
  2. The provider failed to uphold a medical standard of care;
  3. Their negligence directly resulted in your harm.

Even if you do not have a med mal case, it doesn’t mean your experiences with medical gaslighting aren’t valid. You have every right to take action in other ways. You can relay your concerns to the provider’s facility or file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Medical Gaslighting Can Result in a Misdiagnosis

A common way medical gaslighting can lead to malpractice is if the patient receives a delayed or false diagnosis as a result.

Misdiagnosis is a type of medical malpractice that occurs when a health care professional fails to diagnose a patient’s condition within a reasonable amount of time. This act of negligence ultimately leaves the patient without proper treatment and they suffer harm.

Take for instance this story of a 19-year-old woman who suffered from worsening head pain. She visited her health care provider 15 times. Her symptoms were dismissed each time as tension headaches or a side-effect of the birth control she’d taken for years. Eventually, the young woman’s headaches were so severe that she went to the emergency room. There, she finally received a diagnosis: brain cancer.

How Do I Prove Medical Gaslighting Was Malpractice?

To prove you are the victim of medical malpractice at the hands of a negligent and dismissive doctor, you will need to gather evidence of your damages. You will also need to prove that the medical professional acted unreasonably given the circumstances. This can be incredibly difficult. You may need testimony from another health care professional with a similar level of knowledge and skill.

An experienced medical malpractice attorney in Illinois can consult with expert witnesses to demonstrate that you received an inadequate level of care. With their legal insight and experience, a lawyer can help you recover the full amount of compensation you deserve after you’ve been hurt by a physician or other care provider.

Damages in Medical Malpractice Claims

It can be upsetting to trust a physician only to have them doubt you. Outside of the emotional impact, medical gaslighting can lead to complications with your physical health. A patient’s condition could get worse because a medical professional undermined their concerns and failed to properly treat them.

If you’re filing a med mal claim, you will need to prove that you suffered damages as a result of medical gaslighting. Examples of damages in medical malpractice claims include:

  • Lost wages
  • Funeral costs in a wrongful death
  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of consortium
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish

Evidence in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

You may need to collect evidence to support your claim for compensation if you plan on filing a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit. Useful evidence in a malpractice claim include:

  • Medical records
  • Journal entries
  • Expert witness testimony
  • Photographs and videos of your injuries
  • Doctor’s notes
  • Circumstantial evidence

Using a compelling argument backed by strong evidence, your attorney can help you file a med mal claim before the statute of limitations expires. In Illinois, you have two years after the date you became aware of the negligent action to file a med mal claim.

Injured Due to Medical Gaslighting? Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today.

If you’ve been injured because of a dismissive health care professional, you might be wary of trusting another professional to handle your malpractice case. At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., our team of experienced medical malpractice attorneys understand the sensitive nature of your malpractice case. We are here to fight for you recover the maximum amount of compensation.

Contact a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at Staver today by calling (312) 236-2900 to schedule a free consultation.

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(312) 236-2900
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