What To Do If You Experience Medical Gaslighting
Last updated: February 2022
If you have experienced medical gaslighting, here are a few tips that might help:
Stand your ground
It’s easy for me to sit here and tell you to take a step back from the situation and look at the bigger picture. It isn't so easy when you are in that situation.
I’ve experienced gaslighting, and let me tell you, no matter how many years of experience with an illness you have under your belt, when someone tells you everything you know is wrong, everyone you’ve ever spoken to is wrong, the written or photographic evidence you are presenting to them is wrong, and is dismissing or talking over everything you say - it stops you from thinking clearly. That doctor made me believe I didn't have endometriosis!
Eventually, I was able to look at the situation with a level head and say "Hang on! I know I’m right! And I know those other doctors are right because they’ve based their diagnoses on evidence gathered from tests, scans and surgeries"!
If you can stand your ground, then do so. Remember to stay calm and explain clearly what you need. If it takes walking away from the situation and revisiting it to see that actually, you were right, then do it.
You have every right to advocate for yourself and get the help you desire and need.
And, remember, no one knows your body like you do.
See another doctor
Please don’t feel that you have to stick with a doctor if they haven’t shown you any professional courtesy or respect. You are entitled to see a doctor of your own choosing, and change doctors whenever you like.
I would also suggest that when you see a doctor, be prepared. Take any evidence you have with you so that you can refer to it. Make a list of topics to discuss before your appointment. And, if you can, take someone along with you for support.
Speak to someone
If you’ve experienced medical gaslighting, sometimes you’re able to just brush it off. But, if this experience has affected you more deeply, please find someone to talk to. Whether that be telling someone what has happened, or finding someone who can delve deeper in to the trauma it has caused.
With my experience, I spoke with my consultant, who explained everything that the other doctor had refused to tell me, and reassured me that I did indeed have endometriosis! I was then referred on to Medical Psychology to help with processing the event.
Think about putting in a formal complaint
I would like to tell you that this is the route I took. But 2 years down the line, I haven’t found the strength to take this action yet.
However, there is always someone to take a complaint to. Whether that be a manager of a smaller practice, or a separate and non-biased body, like a Patient Information and Liaison Service, based at the hospital. You can ask to see their complaints policy at any time and they will support you with any queries or concerns.
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