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TODAY: How to Navigate ‘Medical Gaslighting’ When Doctors Dismiss Your Symptoms

NBC’s Today recently interviewed Sarah J. Kilpatrick, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecologyat Cedars-Sinai, on the topic of “medical gaslighting” and what women can do when their medical symptoms are ignored or misdiagnosed.

The segment included an interview with a cancer patient, Maria Robles Garcia, who complained to her doctor about back and stomach pain for more than four years, only to be told she needed to lose weight. Although Garcia developed severe symptoms like vomiting and hair loss, her condition was dismissed. Garcia begged for a CAT scan but was told she had to learn to live with the pain. “I started to believe them, and I thought, maybe I am crazy,” Garcia told Today.

After Garcia went to the Cedars-Sinai emergency room, doctors there discovered a 25-pound cancerous ovarian tumor. The team at Cedars-Sinai was able to successfully remove it.

“Women need to know that it’s not normal to suffer,” said Bobbie J. Rimel, MD, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai. “Do not delay a doctor visit. If you are in pain, don’t give up until you feel better.”

Kilpatrick says a situation like Garcia's is common, especially in women and women of color. “Part of the issue is that so much of the data we use today in medicine is based on research on men, male animals, or male cells, which is shocking,” Kilpatrick told Today.

People with autoimmune diseases suffer the most from gaslighting, says Kilpatrick. Autoimmune diseases often come with nonspecific symptoms, like chronic fatigue, that can be the most difficult to accurately diagnose.

Click here to read the full article from NBC’s Today.