Should you get a Second Medical Opinion?
When you go to the doctor, you rely on his or her medical expertise to make the correct diagnosis and prescribe the right treatment, and most patients don’t feel comfortable second-guessing a physician.
However medical mistakes do unfortunately happen, and more often than you might think. Diagnostic errors affect an estimated 12 million Americans, and likely cause more harm to patients than all other medical errors combined. An estimated 40,000 to 80,000 people die each year from diagnostic failures in U.S. hospitals alone, and probably at least that many suffer permanent disability.
While this extra step can help you feel confident that doctors got your diagnosis right, there is another powerful reason to get a second opinion. Because medical malpractice happens and doctors make mistakes, seeking a second opinion can help to protect you against a potentially harmful outcome.
When to get a second opinion
You can have any reason to pursue a second opinion from another medical professional. However, some reasons may be more common than others, including the following:
- You’re not confident in your doctor’s ability to perform a procedure
- You’re interested in alternative treatment options
- You’re not sure the doctor’s diagnosis of your condition is correct
- You’re looking at all options for treatment
- You’re having trouble communicating with your doctor
- Treatment fails to resolve symptoms
- You receive a rare or life-altering diagnosis
- Explanations about important test results are confusing – or withheld altogether
How do you get a second opinion?
Ask your doctor for the name of another expert, someone with whom he or she is not closely connected. Explain that this is how you like to make big medical decisions. Don't worry about offending your doctor, second opinions are common and can be expected.
If you aren't comfortable asking your doctor for a name, check with your insurance company, a local medical society, or the nearest hospital or directory of specialists.
When getting a second opinion, follow these steps:
- Contact your health insurance company to find out if your plan will pay for a second opinion
- Ask your current doctor or insurance company to recommend another specialist. Or consult a local hospital or clinic, or a medical association that provides a searchable database of specialty doctors
- Ask your current doctor’s office – or if you were treated in a hospital, the medical records department – for copies of your records
Getting a second opinion may help you avoid becoming a misdiagnosis victim. Additionally, if you or a loved one were the victim of a missed diagnosis resulting in medical malpractice or medical negligence, contact us today for a free consultation.
Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. has been handling complex medical malpractice cases for nearly two decades and our success in winning these cases is well-known. You can reach our experienced medical malpractice attorney, Melissa Scartelli, via phone: 570-346-2600.