Can a Second Opinion Protect You From Medical Malpractice?

Can a Second Opinion Protect You From Medical Malpractice?

by / Friday, 07 February 2020 / Published in Medical Malpractice
Female doctor talking to female patient in exam room

When people aren’t feeling well, they trust that their doctors will provide them with a diagnosis and will know how to treat it. But when it comes down to it, reaching a correct diagnosis isn’t always easy and, since doctors are human, are prone to making mistakes. Sometimes, the symptoms of one illness are extremely similar to the symptoms of another or a doctor might fail to order tests that would help reach a correct diagnosis.

With how easy it is for diagnostic errors to occur, many patients find themselves in the position of wondering whether or not they should get a second opinion. Very often, this happens after receiving a particularly upsetting diagnosis or if they’ve been undergoing treatment without seeing results.

If you feel like you should seek a second medical opinion, doing so could potentially make a big difference in your life. It may even help save your life. According to a 2012 report by the Mayo Clinic, 88% of patients who went to the Mayo Clinic seeking a second opinion received a new or refined diagnosis. In 21% of those cases, patients received a completely new diagnosis while 66% received a refined/redefined diagnosis. Just 12% of patients in this study had their original diagnosis confirmed.

Some people who consider getting a second opinion are reluctant to do so because they’re worried that their doctor will be upset that one of their patients doesn’t trust them. But a trustworthy doctor will likely welcome a second opinion. If any of the following situations apply to you, getting a second opinion could spot a potentially very serious medical error.

Your Diagnosis Involves a Rare Condition

Rare diseases are surprisingly common. According to the National Institute of Health, between 25 and 30 million people in the United States have what is considered a rare disease. When doctors treat a patient with a rare disease, there’s a good chance that they might not know what they’re dealing with or might misinterpret the results of diagnostic tests. Getting a second opinion from a specialist may be able to help confirm your diagnosis or provide you with a different diagnosis.

Your Diagnosis is Unclear

Very often, people go to see their doctors with symptoms that don’t quite fit the mold of a certain illness. Many illnesses also have symptoms that can be very similar to that of another condition. Because of this, a doctor might have a very hard time reaching a clear, definitive diagnosis.

The Recommended Treatment is Risky

All types of medical treatment comes with their own sets of risks. But certain types of treatments are inherently riskier than others, such as highly invasive treatments like surgery or other options that could profoundly impact your life in the long term. This could include well-known, mainstream treatments like chemotherapy, as well as new, experimental drugs and therapies.

You’ve Started Treatment, But You’re Not Getting Better

In many cases, people don’t begin to consider getting a second opinion until after treatment has begun. After following a prescribed treatment for a while, people may begin to second guess their original diagnosis if they don’t notice an improvement in their symptoms. In a situation like this, getting a second opinion may give you a new diagnosis and give you cause to stop undergoing improper, ineffective treatments.

Of course, if you suspect that you’ve received an incorrect diagnosis for any other reason, getting a second opinion can’t hurt. Diagnostic errors are far too common and they can have a significant impact in your life. If you’ve been harmed by an incorrect diagnosis, contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.

At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to get help from an experienced, Michigan-based medical malpractice lawyer who can help answer all of your questions and help you understand how to move forward with your case. Contact us today to get started.


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