In theory, everybody receives the same standard of care when they go to see a doctor. Unfortunately, that is not the reality of modern medicine.
Some people may have limited access to health care because of their financial circumstances. Many others will not receive the appropriate care because of a bias that their doctor holds.
Specific personal characteristics increase your risk of a diagnostic mistake or failed diagnosis by approximately 30%. When are doctors more likely to make a diagnostic mistake in your care?
When you are from any racial group other than white
Racial bias and ignorance tend to go hand-in-hand. Many people would assume that doctors recognize that most racial differences are only skin-deep. Unfortunately, data about how doctors provide care for patients shows that the opposite is true. Doctors may let racism and colorism affect how they respond to a patient’s self-reported symptoms and what treatment they recommend.
When you are a woman
There is a significant medical bias against female patients. Doctors often don’t learn about the different ways that medical conditions may present in the different sexes. They are also more likely to ignore or downplay the self-reported symptoms when compared with the same symptoms reported by a man.
If you are a person of color or are female, you are at higher-than-average risk of a diagnostic mistake affecting your health care. Knowing what puts you at risk for medical malpractice can help you hold your doctor accountable for substandard care or an inaccurate diagnosis that causes harm.