Just like anyone, doctors can and do make mistakes on occasion. If you feel doubtful about a doctor’s diagnosis of your condition for any reason whatsoever, there is nothing wrong with seeking a second opinion from another doctor. Even if a confirmation of the same diagnosis is what you ultimately receive, a second doctor might provide more information about additional or alternative treatment options.
It is no secret that a significant number of deaths nationwide, including some in Massachusetts, result from medical errors every year. That in itself might be sufficient motivation for you to want to take an active part in your health care.
Primary reasons for seeking second opinions
Although there is no need for a reason for asking a second opinion, there are some common circumstances that typically move people toward taking this course of action. You may want to strongly consider going for a second — or even a third — opinion if you are not comfortable with any of the following:
- Your gut feeling: You know your body best, and if your gut tells you to get more information, that is enough of a reason. You may find much more peace of mind after gathering more information, talking to friends, reading and asking questions when you see a second doctor.
- Continuing symptoms: If the treatment provided by one doctor left you with persistent symptoms and no improvement in your condition, the most logical step might be to seek a second opinion. The fact that one type of treatment failed does not necessarily mean you have to live with chronic pain or discomfort.
- Risky treatment or invasive surgery: It could be wise to explore alternative options if your doctor recommends dangerous treatment or invasive surgery. The suggested procedure might have life-altering consequences, thus getting a second opinion would most likely be advisable given the stakes.
- Rare disease: A diagnosis of a rare disorder or disease can cause fear and anxiety — only because there might not be enough accessible information about it. Also, the chances of a misdiagnosis could be higher for something that your doctor might not be fully familiar with, thus researching doctors or specialists with experience in a specific field might be the best way to seek a second opinion.
- Cancer diagnosis: A diagnosis of cancer or another dreaded disease can be overwhelming, and there have been many unfortunately instances of misdiagnoses within this realm. Even if a second opinion confirms the diagnosis, you might learn more about available treatment options and your prognosis, and by obtaining more than one opinion, you could have a wider choice of treatment plans.
While you are free to get as many opinions as you want, it might be wise to keep in mind that the diagnosis by a second or third doctor might not necessarily be the right one as well.
Misdiagnosis — what are your legal options?
A misdiagnosis could be like a double-edged knife. Not only will you receive treatment and medication for an illness you do not have, but you will also not be receiving treatment for your actual condition, potentially allowing it to worsen. Furthermore, the incorrect treatment you received might potentially cause additional harm and health problems.
You have the right to pursue financial relief through the Massachusetts civil justice system as a victim of any form of medical malpractice, including a misdiagnosis that has caused you pain and suffering. This can be a complicated field of the law, and having an experienced Massachusetts attorney in your corner could prove to be an invaluable asset during these challenging times.