Modern medicine can do incredible things, but it has some significant limitations. The knowledge doctors learn during medical school should help them diagnose and treat their patients, but sometimes they don’t utilize it as they should.
Instead of properly diagnosing someone, doctors will let personal prejudices influence the way that they care for their patients. For example, doctors are quick to ascribe issues with pain, depression or sleep to someone being overweight. They may tell the patient to lose weight rather than look into their symptoms. In some cases, this behavior is medical negligence that may constitute medical malpractice.
Weight is not always the cause of your symptoms
Yes, there is some medical evidence that correlates a higher body mass index (BMI) with certain medical conditions. However, there are people who have low BMIs who are overall unhealthy, and there are plenty of overweight and obese people who have healthy hearts, lungs and muscles.
Doctors should look beyond someone’s weight when trying to diagnose and treat someone’s symptoms. If they fail to do so, that patient could wind up waiting longer than they should for a diagnosis and might be at risk of a worse long-term outcome.
Recently, a case made the national news because doctors effectively ignored a woman’s pain and told her to lose weight. However, it turned out that she had ovarian cancer. A significant delay in diagnosis and treatment can mean that cancer metastasizes or spreads to other tissue. That delay also reduces what treatment options a patient has or their likelihood of fully recovering.
What to do if a doctor has ignored you?
If you believe that your doctor doesn’t take your self-reported symptoms seriously, there are steps you can take the advocate for yourself. Asking for your medical records and seeking a second opinion from another physician in a different medical practice can help you secure an accurate diagnosis.
You may also be in a position to hold your doctor accountable for the way they let inappropriate prejudices affect the treatment of patients. Pursuing a medical malpractice claim when a doctor made assumptions based on your weight could provide you with justice and teach them an important lesson.