On Tuesday, January 17, 2012, The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Landro reported that seeking second opinions from doctors can lead to drastic changes in diagnoses. It is not unheard of for mistakes to occur during the process of diagnosing an illness. It is possible for the reading of radiology slides and biopsies to be entirely incorrect or just false enough to leave a patient seeking the wrong treatment.
Second opinions have, for example, revealed malignant tumors to be benign; and, in some cases, what was initially thought to be asthma has later been diagnosed as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. To say the least, seeking a second opinion can be an effective safeguard against misdiagnoses.
Misdiagnosis is one of the leading reasons for medical malpractice lawsuits as patients can waste valuable time seeking treatment they do not need, or undergoing surgery which proved to be useless to their condition. Some of the most common misdiagnoses involve:
Salivary gland cancer
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
It is good to remember that doctors are human and, as a consequence, are not perfect. They can occasionally become entrenched in a diagnosis, unintentionally overlooking evidence which would either disprove their diagnosis or indicate a different diagnosis. A fresh set of eyes, as it were, can be vital to getting to the core of your ailment. Remember, you are entitled to take slides, pathology reports, and other information to another doctor for your second opinion.
Of course, we know you can’t always afford to obtain a second opinion for your diagnosis or treatment plan. Sometimes you simply have to accept what your medical professional has told you. This why it is important that your primary care physician is someone whom you trust and respect.
If you decide to seek a second opinion for your diagnosis, here are some questions to ask so you can get the most out of your second opinion:
“Are the test results contestable? Could a second round of testing prove useful?”
“Are you positive that this is the disease I have? Is it possible that there are other explanations for my symptoms?”
“Do you agree with the original diagnosis? If so, are you able to suggest any alterations or modifications to my treatment plan?”
“Have we explored all possible options?”
When it comes to your health you should try to be as informed as possible. The more you know about yourself and your condition, the more you can help your doctors treat you. Read “Top 5 Common Misdiagnoses” and “Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice,” and other articles located in our Medical Malpractice Law Articles section of our website.