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Asking for a second medical opinion

Doctors are some of the most trusted professionals, but even the smartest healthcare providers do make mistakes. According to "BMJ Journals," the incident rate of diagnostic errors is about 13 to 15 percent. But that's not the only reason people need to get a second medical opinion. It's recommended that you seek a second opinion in these types of cases:

  • When the treatment is risky or is experimental
  • When the diagnosis isn't clear
  • If you're thinking about participating in a drug trial
  • If you're considering an experimental approach
  • If the condition significantly affects your quality of life

When you ask for and get a second medical opinion, you become more educated as a consumer. This helps you make better decisions. A second opinion confirms a diagnosis and the treatment. This is important for some conditions for which medical tests aren't always accurate. For example, there is no blood test or other diagnostic test for Parkinson's disease. A neurologist must take into account your symptoms and overall health and rule out other conditions. When you get a second opinion, you're getting more information about your health.

How to ask your doctor about getting a second opinion

Typically, you should tell your healthcare provider that you are seeking a second opinion. You will want to bring all of the medical records and test results to the second doctor to provide enough information. Some patients even want the two doctors to discuss options about the treatment. If the second doctor concurs with the diagnosis and treatment, you have peace of mind that your doctor is doing the best thing for your health. If there is a disagreement, you can get valuable advice and information about how to improve your healthcare. It's okay to politely tell your physician that you want to seek a second opinion. Don't worry about insulting the doctor. It's your healthcare, and you are your own best advocate.

The one time you may not want to tell your doctor about seeking a second opinion is when there are accusations of medical malpractice. You may want to discuss your legal standing with an attorney who understands medical malpractice before continuing. Some offices have many contacts in the medical field to help evaluate a claim about medical malpractice. There are lawyers who handle all types of claims that are related to medical negligence, such as diagnosis errors, surgical errors and treatment mistakes. Call a law office to discuss your case with an experienced attorney who understands medical malpractice cases.

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