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Should you get a second medical opinion?

Some patients may feel awkward about getting a second opinion but it is not only every person’s right but can help to prevent serious mistakes.

Patients in Kew Gardens and throughout New York have every right to feel concerned about the risk of medical errors. Every year, many people die due to mistakes made by health care professionals or facilities. In fact, Vox indicates that medical errors are rated as one of the most common causes of annual fatalities in the United States.

Medical mistakes can happen when treatment that has been ordered is not properly administered or followed through with. Other mistakes can happen even if a prescribed course of action is followed but that prescription was erroneous from the start such as with a wrong diagnosis. A diagnosis that is completely missed can also result in severe personal injuries or even death to patients. A second opinion can sometimes prevent mistakes like these from happening.

What situations warrant second opinions?

There is almost no situation in which a second opinion cannot be sought. Some cases, however, may call for additional input more so than others. WebMD.com notes that the following are examples of times when a second opinion really makes sense:

  • When processes, medications or devices to be used in treatment are still being tested.
  • When any treatment carries with it a high risk for severe complications or even death.
  • When multiple treatment options are available and must be compared.
  • When a patient is given a potentially life-threatening or life-altering diagnosis.
  • When a diagnosis fails to completely address all of a patient's symptoms and is not fully clear.

The American Heart Association urges people to feel comfortable asking for second opinions in any situation. Doing so is part of a patient's rights.

Where can patients get second opinions?

A great place to start when looking for a second medical opinion is with the initial doctor. Any ethical and reputable health care professional will happily offer referrals for this purpose. In some cases, insurance companies even mandate that second opinions are received.

When looking for a provider for a second opinion, it is best to look within a different health organization that the first provider. This can give the freshest view because individual groups can sometimes have providers that all share similar approaches. A second opinion should really let patients look at things in new ways.

According to the Patient Advocate Foundation, when seeking a second opinion, New Yorkers should take into consideration the approach of each doctor. Some providers are more conservative in their treatments than others and this should be part of what is weighed in making any final decision.

It is always the patient's decision

After a second opinion has been obtained, people should then feel able to make their choice. The Huffington Post notes that this choice could even be something different than what both providers suggested.

If questions continue, patients should also be willing to talk to an attorney about their situation. Legal professionals with experience in medical malpractice can offer unique insights into these cases.

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