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When A Second Medical Opinion May Matter

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

Obtaining additional medical opinions is the right of every patient. Knowing when and how to do this is important.

New Yorkers who may be concerned about medical errors should be aware of their right to seek a second opinion. Medical mistakes are among the most common causes of death in the country according to Vox. These mistakes can be related to cases in which the treatment being provided by a health care professional is not consistent with what treatment was prescribed. They can also occur when the treatment provided is consistent with what was ordered but the original order was incorrect. This can happen with a missed diagnoses or an incorrect diagnoses. Seeking a second opinion can be a way of preventing some of these dangerous medical errors.

When does a second opinion make sense?

Seeking a second opinion before treatment begins is often the best way to prevent against a serious error. explains that some situations are especially well-suited for the input of additional opinions. Among these are the following:

  • When a patient’s diagnosis includes a life-threatening or serious medical condition.
  • When a diagnosis is not completely clear and many questions are left unanswered.
  • When there are more than one reasonable options for treatment.
  • When treatments for the diagnoses are known to be very risky.
  • When treatment options include the use of experimental processes, devices or drugs.

The American Heart Association notes that patients should feel ready and comfortable to seek additional opinions at any time, even if their situation does not fall in one of the above categories.

How to find a provider for a second opinion

When seeking a second medical opinion, a good way to get the name of a provider is by asking the original doctor for a referral. Ethical health care professionals will always respect a patient’s decision to gather additional information. Some health insurers actually even require second opinions to be obtained depending upon the circumstances.

Because the point of a second opinion is to offer a potentially different view on a situation, seeking a provider who can offer that is important. A good way to do this is to go outside of the original provider’s medical organization. Professionals within a single medical group can hold a common philosophy. Therefore, seeking the input of someone in a different group can give patients the best chance of receiving a truly unique opinion.

The Patient Advocate Foundation reminds people to also take into account the individual doctor’s approach. Some providers tend to want to be more aggressive with treatments while others are more cautious.

The patient’s right

After different opinions have been received, the patient has the right to choose what to do or not to do as explained by the Huffington Post. A patient may even opt to do something different than what either provider recommended.

When grappling with concerns about potential medical errors, people in New York should always feel able to reach out to an attorney. Getting information about the legal side of things can be very important at these times.

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