We receive medical malpractice inquiries all the time from medical malpractice victims who suffered serious and permanent harm as a result of medical negligence who may have avoided their life-long suffering and immense medical bills if they had only listened to the little voice in their head telling them that “something is wrong” with the medical care and treatment they were receiving. So many people are unnecessarily hesitant to seek a second, unbiased opinion from a second (or third) medical provider to confirm that their medical diagnosis is correct and that the treatment their medical provider suggested is safe and appropriate for them.
The American Medical Association (AMA) Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 1.2.3 states, in part, that physicians should “Assure the patient that he or she may seek a second opinion or choose someone else to provide a recommended consultation or service. Physicians should urge patients to familiarize themselves with any restrictions associated with their individual health plan that may bear on their decision, such as additional out-of-pocket costs to the patient for referrals or care outside a designated panel of providers.” The same Medical Ethics Opinion states: “Physicians may not terminate a patient-physician relationship solely because the patient seeks recommendations or care from a health care professional whom the physician has not recommended.”
Nonetheless, many patients feel that their treating physicians would be offended if they sought a second opinion or that their physicians would drop them as patients. Some physicians are so arrogant or pompous that they may in fact do so, but is that the kind of physician that you can trust to honestly and openly discuss with you your best options for medical care and treatment for your potentially serious medical condition?
Many, if not most, private health insurance plans provide coverage for second opinions (i.e., the option or recommendation to visit another physician or surgeon regarding diagnosis, course of treatment or having specific types of elective surgery performed). The financial reason for such coverage is that health insurance plans rightfully do not want to pay for unnecessary or harmful medical treatment that may lead to the need for additional medical treatment and additional medical expenses paid under the plan.
More importantly for you, a second (or third) medical opinion with regard to a medical diagnosis and/or proposed treatment or treatment options may save you from suffering unnecessary injury and harm (and you may avoid becoming a victim of medical malpractice).
The time and effort necessary to obtain a second opinion should not be a consideration in deciding whether to obtain a second opinion – you have only one life, your health is irreplaceable, and if you can avoid suffering unnecessary pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, disability, and other harms, you owe it to yourself to obtain a second opinion. (Sometimes there is no time for obtaining a second opinion, such as when an acute injury requires immediate surgery or other immediate medical intervention.)
What is the value of a second opinion? The Mayo Clinic reported on April 4, 2017 that “Many patients come to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion or diagnosis confirmation before treatment for a complex condition. In a new study, Mayo Clinic reports that as many as 88 percent of those patients go home with a new or refined diagnosis – changing their care plan and potentially their lives. Conversely, only 12 percent receive confirmation that the original diagnosis was complete and correct … This second opinion could lead to quicker access to lifesaving treatment or stopping unnecessary treatments. And a second opinion may reduce stress in a patient’s extended family, when they learn the new diagnosis does not carry dire genetic implications. These scenarios can result from diagnostic error … In 21 percent of the cases, the diagnosis was completely changed; and 66 percent of patients received a refined or redefined diagnosis.” Source
So do yourself a favor, and perhaps you may avoid having to contact us in the future if you become the victim of medical malpractice, by timely obtaining a second medical opinion from a qualified medical provider if your treating medical provider recommends a particular treatment that may cause you to suffer harm. If in doubt (especially if that little voice in your head is nagging you), get a second opinion.
If you or a loved one may have been harmed as a result of medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Click on the “Contact Us Now” tab to the right, visit our website, or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find medical malpractice attorneys in your state who may assist you.
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