Regrettably, medical misdiagnosis is far more common than you may want to believe, and an entirely too large percentage of American patients who visit their primary care doctors are getting incomplete or downright inaccurate information when they seek diagnoses. Because so many patients do not get the full story when visiting their doctors, seeking a second opinion from a separate physician is wise anytime you receive a serious diagnosis or a recommendation for a highly invasive form of treatment.
According to AARP, medical misdiagnosis happens so frequently nowadays that about 10% of all patient deaths result from diagnostic-related circumstances. Furthermore, in one Mayo Clinic-conducted study involving patients who sought second opinions after receiving diagnoses, only about 12% of patients had received accurate diagnoses from their doctors during their initial visits.
More than 20% of patients who sought second opinions after visiting their primary care doctors and receiving serious diagnoses found out that their initial diagnoses were completely wrong, while another 66% found that their initial diagnoses were lacking important details or were only partially correct. Additionally, between 6% and 17% of all adverse events in hospitals happen because of diagnostic issues, highlighting an alarming trend that can pose a serious danger to patients. Because so many patients receive inaccurate or incomplete diagnoses, having a second set of trained eyes on you can prove paramount, but some patients fail to seek out second opinions because of fears about insurance coverage.
Potential barriers to seeking second opinions
Some health insurance providers, for example, will not cover the costs of visiting an out-of-network health care specialist. In failing to do so, though, they run the risk of your condition worsening, which, in turn, can lead you to require additional, potentially costly, forms of treatment or medical intervention.
When you receive a serious diagnosis, or when your doctor tells you that you need surgery or another form of invasive treatment, try, first, to find an in-network provider who can give your condition a second look. Even if you have to go outside of your network to secure a second opinion, though, it may prove well worth it if that visit helps you get to the bottom of what is truly ailing you.