Originally posted to the Community section at MyMedia.
This one is very tough to write about, for very personal reasons: the incredible gender bias in health care. How many times are women patients in critical circumstances, sent home with what is, essentially, a pat on the head, only to suffer severe health consequences later? That is not a rhetorical question, by the way. The answer is: several times more than men.
Some of you reading may remember reading on the news about a woman in Florida who was asked to leave the emergency room, since there was ‘nothing wrong with her,’ only to die right outside the hospital as the cops who had arrested her for non-compliance were trying to get her into the patrol car. Even as she’s lying on the floor, dying, people around her insist that there’s ‘nothing wrong with her.’
It’s easy to find excuses in the media for this particular case. She was loud, and had a history of being disruptive, she was heavy set (we are told her weight in the freaking headlines, for dog’s sake). But mostly, she was female (and also black), and complaining of pain.
Oh, you may say, but that’s just one case, why are you making noise about that?
Because it’s not one case. From the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, in 2001–fifteen freaking years ago!–here’s the abstract from “The Girl Who Cried Pain”
In general, women report more severe levels of pain, more frequent incidences of pain, and pain of longer duration than men, but are nonetheless treated for pain less aggressively. The authors investigate this paradox from two perspectives: Do men and women in fact experience pain differently – whether biologically, cognitively, and/or emotionally? And regardless of the answer, what accounts for the differences in the pain treatment they receive, and what can we do to correct this situation?