Bad medical news? Get a second opinion before you act

The most common type of medical mistake that patients suffer from is a misdiagnosis.

Sometimes, that means that people with serious health conditions are left unaware of the cancer growing inside their bodies or without any idea that they need urgent treatment for infections that later cost them their eyesight or a limb. In one case, a woman went from doctor to doctor complaining of chest pain -- and they all missed the fact that the pain was caused by compression on her spinal cord. She ended up a paraplegic.

Other times, perfectly healthy people endure painful, needless treatments that wreck their health. Sometimes, genuinely sick people get a diagnosis -- just not the right diagnosis.

The Mayo Clinic performed a two-year study on 286 patients. The study found that only 12 percent of patients who sought a second opinion received the exact same diagnosis they had the first time around.

It is true that missed diagnoses are more common than late or entirely incorrect diagnoses, but both of the later still happen. The Mayo Clinic study found that 66 percent of patients who went to a second physician for a new opinion obtained a "more nuanced" diagnosis -- which means that the diagnosis of the disease or disorder was essentially the same, but the second diagnosis brought far more clarity about the stage the disease was in, what treatment options were available or what treatment needed to be begun immediately.

An astounding 21 percent of patients who went for a second opinion ended up with a totally different diagnosis. That figure is especially frightening because it indicates that 2 out of every 10 people who receive a diagnosis and act on it without getting that second opinion are getting the wrong treatment.

In the best-case scenario, the wrong treatment is useless and delays the correct care. A patient might potentially miss out on the last chance he or she had to recover while undergoing the wrong care. The worst case scenario means that the treatment could damage a patient's health further or even create a health problem where there was none.

If you've discovered that you're the victim of a failure to diagnosis or an outright misdiagnosis that has cost you either your health or a chance at recovery, talk to an attorney today.

Source:, "Study Reveals Sick Americans Could Be Misdiagnosed at Alarming Rate," April 10, 2017

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