Dealing with a new medical condition can be confusing, and a daunting task which makes decision making difficult for patients. Patients usually get a second opinion for the following reasons:
· If what they are facing is life threatening
· A surgical intervention has been suggested
· The physician directly recommends one
· If there’s doubt of the first diagnosis
Studies show that incidences of missed, incorrect, and delayed diagnoses are common with an average rate of 10–20%. Clinical laboratory, radiology, and pathology have shown error rates of 2–5% each. A survey of 6000 physicians led to 96% of them agreeing that diagnostic errors could be prevented.
Such a problem does not escape the top medical institutions. In a new clinical study by Mayo Clinic, only 12% of patients were correctly diagnosed the first time. This is incredibly alarming when you think of the sheer number of misdiagnosed cases and the incredible burden this has on our healthcare system in terms of unnecessary surgeries and treatment. Second opinions are a powerful tool to reduce the rate of misdiagnosis and improve treatment outcomes among other reasons:
§ To get treatment and a sense of well-being — Doctors are human beings and don’t hold all the answers to every medical condition. A physician may recommend a second opinion or a patient can request one themselves due to the complexity of their symptoms or to simply increase their knowledge about their condition.
§ Protection from a misdiagnosis — A study published in BMJ Quality & Safety shows that around 12 million people suffer from misdiagnosis in America. On a small sample size of 1000, a study by Pinnacle Care revealed a 77% change of diagnosis after the second opinion.
§ Suggestions from your physician — Your physician may request a second opinion for you. This is mainly to further his/her initial diagnosis of your condition so that they can be more confident in their prescribed care and to avoid any costly misdiagnosis. The right diagnosis leads to an effective and efficient treatment.
§ Costs containment- With the ever-increasing costs of medical care, some insurance companies have limited their coverage of second opinions. Studies have shown that people who are socio-economically capable seek a second opinion yet those that aren’t find it very difficult to do so and thus do not. Work needs to be done in order to democratize this valuable resource as a misdiagnosis could end up costing the patient even more money in the first place.
§ Being diagnosed with a rare disease — When a rare disease or condition is discovered, you can be referred to seek a second opinion from a specialist who is normally well equipped and is an expert in your specific case. Such specialists are up-to-date on the latest developments in science and treatment available for the condition that you could be dealing with.
In a world surrounded by so many complex medical conditions, you are advised to always seek a second opinion. Having an expert opinion leads to better informed choices when the stakes are high. There are several ways of treating diseases, each one carrying its own risks and benefits. Getting a second opinion can help you determine the best treatment plan so that you can go back to feeling 100%.