Think It’s a Misdiagnosis? Here’s When You Should Get a Second Opinion

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with an illness or disease, you’re probably still feeling the aftershocks of the experience. You may be feeling a confusing mix of emotions, and you’re not sure what to do or how to return as quickly as possible to the life you had before the diagnosis. Although you may be feeling shocked, sad, confused, and even angry, don’t just accept the diagnosis. In some cases, another opinion could save your life. Here are the times when you should get a second opinion.

1. You’ve been diagnosed with a serious or life-threatening illness

Doctor writing notes while talking to a patient

Doctors can be wrong. | iStock.com

If your doctor says you have a disease that’s very serious or life-threatening, you’ll want to get more than one opinion concerning the best plan for treatment. You have much more to lose when your life is in immediate danger. Even if you have a great relationship with your doctor and you’ve been seeing him or her for years, it still makes sense to do some research and weigh your options. There may be a better treatment option that your current doctor is unaware of or is not trained to perform.

2. You’re not confident in the diagnosis

Couple talking to a doctor

If you have doubts, don’t be afraid to address them. | iStock.com

Doctors are human, and they make mistakes sometimes. If you don’t feel your diagnosis is accurate, you’ll want to get another opinion. A misdiagnosis could cause your condition to worsen due to inappropriate or delayed treatment. Then there’s the worst-case scenario: Your misdiagnosis could be deadly. According to the journal BMJ Quality and Safety, roughly 12 million adults seeking outpatient care are misdiagnosed each year.

3. You’re not comfortable with the treatment plan

doctor talking to a male patient in an exam room

You should feel able to talk about other treatment possibilities. | iStock.com

If your doctor has recommended a plan you’re not completely satisfied with, you may want to have other medical professionals weigh in. As a patient, you do have some say about the direction of your treatment. So, if there’s any doubt about how things are proceeding, take time to speak to another healthcare provider who can offer a sound, professional opinion.

Don’t allow yourself to be bullied

a doctor holding a tablet

Seek another opinion if you feel forced into something or uncomfortable. | iStock.com

If you’ve been seeing a physician for a long time, he or she may feel insulted that you’re choosing to seek another opinion. Know that you have every right to get a second opinion, and you shouldn’t feel bad about having another professional take a look at your case. If your doctor seems upset about your choice, just remember this is your life, and it’s up to you to do whatever you can to stay well. You’re also not obligated to tell your current doctor that you sought a second opinion, so if you feel it would be best to keep this information to yourself, do so. Take charge of your health.

Be proactive with your care

Man visiting the doctor

You should always follow up and ensure you get straight answers. | iStock.com

If you had a medical test and haven’t received the results, don’t assume everything is fine because you haven’t heard anything. The New York Times says slip-ups do happen. Take action and call the doctor’s office. Also do some research on your illness. There may be a symptom you didn’t think was worth mentioning that could give your physician a better idea of how to proceed with your treatment.

Ask friends and family for assistance

a male couple sits on the stairs while having a serious talk

In trying times you will always need help. | iStock.com

When looking for a second opinion, don’t just settle for whomever accepts your insurance. Also check to see that the physician has experience in the disease for which you are seeking care. In addition, ask friends and family if they or someone they know can recommend a doctor.

Order medical records

Doctor looking over medial records

You’ll need your medical records so you can be sure everyone is on the same page. | iStock.com

Make sure to order copies of your medical records so you can get the second physician caught up on your case. This will help reduce time getting the answers you need to make a decision about your treatment.

Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.