Crowd Wisdom, Premature psych conclusions, and harm from misdiagnosis

Amy Reinert amy.reinert at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 24 22:58:13 UTC 2013

I'm coming in a little bit late to this discussion, but did want to respond
to Dr. Bell's comment about women with history of sexual abuse seemingly
living in the doctor's office.

For my doctoral dissertation research, I conducted a study of women
diagnosed with autoimmune disease whose symptoms had been dismissed by
several physicians over the course of several years. All of these patients
were dismissed as "psych" by male and female physicians alike (please note
that they were screened for pre-existing mental disorders). Some physicians
ran tests initially. Others declined to run tests at all. Obviously these
women truly were ill, however, they experienced significant psychological
harm that can reasonably be attributed to misdiagnosis or lack of
investigation. Of course, there were also financial implications from all
of these unproductive office visits. Too much to go into in depth here, but
in considering the harm these patients experienced in terms of their mental
health (being told they was nothing wrong with them when in fact their
bodies were clearly--to them-- ill) and the worsening of their untreated
disease, it seems that there does need to be further study of patients with
unresolved symptoms. The results of my study also indicated that more study
of the influencing "invisible" personal biases held by physicians is also
in order.

A.D. Ruzicka, Ph.D

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