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MDLinxMedical Gaslighting: Are You Doing this to Your Patients and Other Doctors?

Addressing the Understated Bullying in Healthcare

The phenomenon of medical gaslighting, where healthcare providers dismiss a patient’s concerns, feelings, or complaints, is gaining attention. This subtle form of bullying can have serious implications on the mental health and self-esteem of attendings, residents, and medical students.

HCN Medical Memo
As healthcare professionals, we need to be aware of the phenomenon of medical gaslighting. It’s crucial that we validate our patients’ concerns and feelings rather than dismissing them. This practice not only fosters trust but also ensures that we provide the best care possible. Furthermore, we need to address this issue among our colleagues to create a supportive and respectful work environment.

Key Points

  • Medical gaslighting can occur among physician colleagues or between doctors and patients.
  • The term “gaslighting” originated from the 1944 classic film Gaslight, where a husband manipulates his wife into questioning her own sanity.
  • Medical gaslighting is often perpetrated by male physicians on their female counterparts.
  • Ways to avoid gaslighting include treating patients with integrated-care teams, trying gender-based approaches to disease management, and encouraging patients to seek second opinions.
  • Sarah Fraser, MD, a female primary care physician has faced gaslighting from male specialists but has dubbed the term “medlighting” and describes it as more understated and covert compared to other forms of medical bullying.

According to a study published in The Lancet, nearly one-third of healthcare workers report experiencing workplace bullying.

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