Sharon Stone smiles on a red carpet.

Sharon Stone’s Deadly Misdiagnosis Is a Story Familiar to Too Many Women

Doctors not listening to women when they describe their pain levels is a tale as old as time and it doesn’t matter who you are. Even legendary celebrities like Sharon Stone have doctors telling them that they’re “faking” what they’re going through.

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In a new interview with Vogue, Stone opened up about a stroke she suffered in 2001 that caused her brain to bleed for nine days. Hemorrhaging and in pain, Stone went to the hospital to complain about the pain and, as she describes it, the doctors immediately denied her any agency. “I remember waking up on a gurney and asking the kid wheeling it where I was going, and him saying, ‘brain surgery,’” Stone said. “A doctor had decided, without my knowledge or consent, that he should give me exploratory brain surgery and sent me off to the operating room.”

Stone says this experience really opened her eyes to what women go through in the medical world. “What I learned through that experience is that in a medical setting, women often just aren’t heard, particularly when you don’t have a female doctor.” This then led to her realization that the doctors missed the bleeding entirely and just assumed that she was “faking” the pain.

“They missed it with the first angiogram and decided that I was faking it,” Stone said. Luckily, she had her best friend at her side who made sure that Stone got the care she needed.

“My best friend talked them into giving me a second one and they discovered that I had been hemorrhaging into my brain, my whole subarachnoid pool, and that my vertebral artery was ruptured,” Stone said. “I would have died if they had sent me home.”

This is sadly not uncommon for women.

Women are regularly dismissed by doctors

There are countless studies worldwide that highlight gender bias in medical care. This bias is even worse for women of color, particularly Black women. Women are, as the studies show, paying the price for outdated medical myths. Stone’s story is all too common.

Not being listened to isn’t an uncommon issue for women but when it comes to the medical field, it is terrifying to hear firsthand how doctors don’t listen to their patients. Stone’s story and the accounts of women sharing their experiences highlight a terrifying reality. Women are being mistreated, misdiagnosed, and dying because intentionally or not, doctors and those in the medical profession will let them suffer rather than listen to them.

This is one of those stories that you hear as a woman and think to yourself “Yeah, we know.” It’s frustrating but something we need to recognize is not just our own unique, one-off individual experience. The medical field has a culture of dismissing women’s voices. With someone as high-profile as Stone sharing her story, it will hopefully shine a light on something that women, particularly women of color, have been talking about for years.

(featured image: Michael Tran/Getty Images)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.