• Patients are sharing their stories of being dismissed by doctors. (E+ / Getty Images)Source: E+ / Getty Images
The social media hashtag giving patients a voice.
Caitlin Chang

31 Oct 2018 - 12:57 PM  UPDATED 31 Oct 2018 - 2:20 PM

Patients are taking to social media to share their experience of being dismissed by doctors and medical professionals.

Using the hashtag #doctorsaredickheads, Twitter users are posting anecdotes of being misdiagnosed, having their concerns dismissed and being treated poorly. Having received a lot of traction this week, it reveals a common thread of some patients' increasing frustration when dealing with the medical industry. 

The hashtag was started after YouTube video presenter Stevie Boebi posted a video about her diagnosis with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a connective tissue disorder, and stated "doctors are dickheads" towards the end of the video. It was then picked up by many women dealing with conditions such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, PCOS, and endometriosis. 

"I saw the hashtag just after leaving a hospital grievance meeting about my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome going undiagnosed over 20 years of visiting the same ER," says Melbourne-based journalist Asher Wolf, who has shared her own experiences using the hashtag. "[I] basically went ballistic all over the hashtag."

While the responses have been shared by people across genders, there has been a common thread of women using the platform to share their experiences. "We didn't sit down and workshop the hashtag," Wolf says. "It was an outpouring of women who have been harmed by doctors. If you look at the hashtag, the same conditions come up again...conditions that overwhelming effect women, that are often multi-systemic, under-diagnosed and under-treated.

"It's not just that those conditions are under-diagnosed and under-treated," she adds. "While trying to get help, women are treated dreadfully." 

While some doctors criticised the hashtag as demonising them, others saw it as an opportunity for physicians to learn and improve the doctor-patient relationship. For many physicians, it has highlighted a power imbalance that needs to be fixed. 

The hashtag has not only given patients a voice, it's highlighted that something needs to change. As one physician, Dr Sharon McNamara noted, "There's an abusive culture of power in medicine. Many physicians abuse that power towards patients and aren't held accountable. Many physicians are destroyed by the same system."

Do you have a story to share? Email pitchtolife@sbs.com.au

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