Will Getting a Second Opinion Lower My Chances of Misdiagnosis?

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For doctors, diagnosing a patient is not an exact science. They rely on their medical experience, patient symptoms, and best judgment to make a decision. Unfortunately, this leads to a high rate of misdiagnoses and, as a result, patient harm.

In certain cases, obtaining a second opinion may reduce your risk of being wrongly diagnosed.

Can a Second Opinion Help?

Obtaining multiple medical opinions may help patients facing serious medical conditions. In a small 2015 study, the Mayo Clinic examined medical records for 286 patients whose healthcare providers referred them to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion. The researchers found that about 12 percent of the time, the second diagnosis confirmed the first. However, roughly 21 percent of the time, the final diagnosis was completely different from the original diagnosis and in about 66 percent of cases, the second diagnosis clarified or better defined the first.

Thus, roughly 88% of patients go home with a different or more specific diagnosis after obtaining a second opinion.

In many fields, obtaining a second opinion is common practice. For example, if you receive a cancer diagnosis, it’s perfectly normal to seek alternative medical advice. In other cases, you might ask for additional help if:

  • You are not confident with your doctor’s diagnosis
  • You are being referred for a major, non-emergency surgery
  • You feel as though your voice is not being heard
  • You are facing a serious, life-threatening medical condition

Why get a second opinion?

One in 20 Americans is subjected to diagnostic errors, according to a 2014 study by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Getting a second opinion may help:

  • Reduce the risk of receiving unnecessary treatment
  • Increase the chance of receiving the right treatment
  • Increase your confidence in your treatment plan
  • Educate you about alternative treatment options
  • Increase your knowledge about your health

As an example, the attorneys at Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. obtained $4 million on behalf of a patient who was misdiagnosed as having a non-malignant lesion in the brain. In reality, the patient had a vascular malformation in his brain. As a result of the missed diagnosis, the patient began hemorrhaging several days later and sustained permanent brain damage. A second opinion regarding the diagnosis may have avoided this tragedy.

Contact a Maryland or Washington D.C. Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

If you or someone you love was harmed by a misdiagnosis, speak with a lawyer from Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. to learn more about your rights. Our attorneys, with top awards from professional organizations and a history of successful outcomes, can be your guides through the complicated legal system. Give our firm a call at 410-234-1000 or fill out a contact form.