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Second opinions can be extremely important

Written by Diane Archer

A new study from the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice shows how getting second opinions can be extremely important before deciding on treatment for a complex condition. Researchers looked at the cases of several hundred patients who visited the Mayo Clinic for a second opinion. In nearly nine out of ten instances, the doctors providing the second opinion either offered an entirely different diagnosis or a modified diagnosis.

While we may think of the practice of medicine as a science, different doctors may offer very different diagnoses for the same patients. As a result, patients can be given the wrong treatment for their conditions. Regrettably, misdiagnosis happens more often than most people may realize. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death.

Of the 286 patients studied, only 12 percent were told that their original diagnosis and plan of care was correct. More than one in five patients (21 percent) were told that the original diagnosis was incorrect. According to a 2015 National Academy of Medicine report, most Americans will get a misdiagnosis at some point in their lives.

There is a need for improved processes for arriving at a diagnosis and reducing errors. For now, if you receive a diagnosis for a complex or serious condition, get a second opinion from an expert before getting treatment.

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