Why You Should Consider Getting a Second Opinion
Most Americans trust their physician to accurately diagnose a medical problem and are reluctant to second-guess a clinical judgment. After all, the white coat and stethoscope are not just accessories; they convey authority and professionalism. Although doctors in the U.S. are held to the highest standards of quality and undergo rigorous education, training, certification, and licensing, they are still human and it is your right, perhaps even your duty to yourself, as a patient, to get a second opinion. Consider the following account:
Jennifer (name has been changed) was rushed to the E.R. with a fever and severe abdominal pain and swelling and was initially diagnosed with a bowel obstruction caused by a volvulus or intestinal knot. Her doctors were ready to operate to remove the obstruction and gave her the procedural consent forms to sign. But something didn’t feel right. She decided to discharge herself and go to another E.R. for a second opinion.
This decision ended up saving her life. The initial diagnosis turned out to be wrong. Although she did have an infection, doctors learned it was her appendix specifically that was inflamed. By now, her appendix had ruptured and was leaking fluid into her abdominal cavity. She promptly had an appendectomy and was glad she sought a second opinion.
Getting a second opinion is not only encouraged for accurate diagnosis or peace of mind; a second opinion expedites the process of accessing lifesaving treatments or stopping unnecessary ones. A second opinion may also reduce stress in a patient’s extended family when they learn that the new diagnosis does not carry dire genetic implications.
Diagnostic error is a reality in the medical field. Medicine is not always an exact science. It is an ever-growing field comparable, in many ways, to other markets. There are goods provided and services rendered for which money is exchanged—and you are the consumer. It’s your job to be a responsible, informed consumer of healthcare.
Get a second opinion if:
- You are irresolute or not confident in the accuracy of your doctor’s assessment, diagnosis, or recommended treatment
- Your doctor recommends a serious surgery that is usually reserved for emergencies
- You feel that your concerns are being dismissed
A good doctor understands your right to be well informed, and should support a second opinion. In fact, they should encourage it.
Obtaining a second opinion is especially advisable when you are receiving medical treatment compensated by an insurance company after a car accident (physical therapy, chiropractic care, pain and spine care, etc.). You want to be as thorough as possible when it comes to detecting damage. Bodily injuries do not manifest themselves right away, and it may take more than one doctor to discover damage missed upon initial assessment.
The attorneys at Bachus & Schanker, LLC take matters regarding personal injury and your health seriously. Hiring a personal injury lawyer from our team is one of the smartest things you can do to ensure you receive the medical treatment you need and the compensation you deserve.
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