Misdiagnosis is the most common type of medical error, with an estimated 10 to 20 percent of medical malpractice cases involving a diagnostic error. Moreover, the consequences of misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, and other diagnostic errors are often catastrophic. According to a 2009 report, 28 percent of 583 diagnostic mistakes reported anonymously by doctors were life-threatening or had resulted in death or permanent disability. With the potential consequences of misdiagnosis so dire, it is important that patients be their own best advocate and do what they can to prevent misdiagnosis. One of the most important things a patient can do to prevent a misdiagnosis – as well as prevent ensure proper treatment of the condition – is getting a second opinion. According to the New York Times, evidence shows that second opinions can lead to significant changes in a patient’s diagnosis or in recommendations for treating a disease, particularly with respect to radiology images and biopsy pathology slides. Second opinions can be helpful for a number of reasons. First, they might help alert the patient to a possible misdiagnosis and prevent medical malpractice. Second, they might provide alternative forms of treatment even if the diagnosis is confirmed. And third, they may confirm the diagnosis and treatment plan so that the patient can feel more certain and comfortable with his or her medical decisions. Second opinions are especially helpful when making a surgical decision or dealing with a cancer diagnosis. According to Harold J. Burstein, MD, a staff oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, “Doctors want patients and their families to feel comfortable with their treatment. Second opinions are often really helpful because they offer reassurance.”
When Is a Second Opinion Necessary?
Although a second opinion can be helpful in all circumstances, patients should definitely consider getting a second opinion in the following circumstances:
- You have doubts about your doctor’s qualifications or diagnosis.
- You do not have a positive relationship with your doctor.
- Your doctor doesn’t have adequate experience with your condition.
- You have a rare medical condition.
- Your doctor says that there no lifesaving treatment options.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish are committed to helping the victims of medical malpractice obtain money damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent disability, disfigurement, and emotional distress. Contact our office at (312) 445-9084 to schedule a free consultation to learn more about a possible medical malpractice lawsuit. Steinberg Goodman & Kalish (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families. We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (888) 325-7299 or (312) 445-9084.