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Does a second opinion make a difference?

When it comes to your health, you need to know that your diagnoses are correct. When you are misdiagnosed, treatments may not work or provide the benefits that you were expecting. In some cases, you may even get sicker.

Health care providers are only human, so there is a risk that they’ll make mistakes. That’s why it’s so important to check on any diagnosis you receive with a second opinion. Doing this may help you minimize the risk of being a victim of medical malpractice, too.

Won’t a second opinion offend my doctor?

You should know that second opinions are commonplace today, so it’s not unusual to ask for one. If a medical provider is offended that you want a second opinion, then that should raise red flags for you.

A medical diagnosis is serious business, and just like any other major change in your life, you may want to have others’ opinions about it. Unless a diagnosis is clear and the treatments you’ve been given are working as designed, it makes sense to ask for others’ input.

In a study from 2017, it was found that 21% of patients who had a second consultation at the Mayo Clinic walked out with a new diagnosis. Around 66% of patients seeking second opinions were told that the initial diagnosis was at least partially correct, but the diagnosis still had to be refined or redefined by another medical professional. For cancer patients, a 2018 study showed that a second review of medical documents led to a changed diagnosis for 43% of the 70 patients who participated.

Diagnoses aren’t always easy to make, because many conditions overlap or are related to one another. There may also be alternative treatment strategies that are available at once facility but not another, which is why patients need to talk to as many specialists in the appropriate field as possible.

Second opinions are important. They give you a better idea of the true nature of a diagnosis and may even help you seek new avenues of treatment from providers who offer alternatives. This is something to keep in mind as you deal with a new or existing diagnosis.