Some medical diagnoses are more serious than others. A medical exam could reveal nothing more serious than a common flu, or your doctor could recommend surgery to remove your appendix. In either situation, however,
you might be wondering whether your doctor got the right diagnosis. What if your flu is something more serious? What if your appendix isn’t really the problem?
When to consider a second opinion
You should feel free to obtain a second opinion any time you have reason to be concerned about your doctor’s diagnosis. If his diagnosis isn’t serious, but your instincts are telling you that something else is wrong, you will feel more confident with a second opinion. Even if it agrees with the first, your reduced stress will help you relax and concentrate on healing.
There are some situations, however, when a second opinion is advisable no matter how much confidence you have in your doctor. Whenever your doctor recommends major (or even minor) surgery, you should give serious consideration to obtaining a second opinion. Just as you would consult two different experts to help diagnose and repair a structural problem with your house, you should get as much expert advice as possible before taking a step that could seriously compromise your health.
Won’t my primary doctor be offended?
Most doctors understand the value of second opinions, and may even suggest that you seek one for major medical issues. Your doctor may even welcome the additional viewpoints of the second doctor, and might incorporate her advice into his own suggested treatment plan. Either way, your doctor should support your rights to gather the information you need to make the choices that are right for you.
If your doctor discourages you from seeking a second opinion… perhaps that’s when you need one most.
How do I get a second opinion?
First, consult with your insurance company. Most policies have guidelines for second opinions, and you want to be sure that the second opinion will be covered by your insurance. Ask your insurance agent for a list of doctors covered by your plan, and consider asking your primary doctor which doctor on the list he would recommend.
When you select your secondary doctor, do everything you can to provide her with test results and scans prior to your appointment. Doing the legwork beforehand will save you time and money, since the second doctor likely won’t have to complete the same tests herself.
How will a second opinion help me?
Doctors aren’t perfect, and sometimes they make mistakes. They miss things on scans or they temporarily forget a few weeks of their medical training. As much as you like and trust your doctor, if he’s still human, you can’t assume he will always be right. Second opinions allow a fresh pair of medically-trained eyes to examine your case. While the second doctor won’t be perfect either, the odds are in your favor that she’ll be imperfect in different ways.
Remember: It is better to never have to file a medical malpractice suit than to realize afterward just how wrong your doctor’s diagnosis was.
At the Daytona Beach, Florida law firm of Zimmet & Zimmet, we are dedicated to helping injured patients recover their damages in medical malpractice claims. If you were injured by your doctor’s negligence – whether or not you got a second opinion – contact us today to see what we can do for you.