Should you get a second medical opinion?

Portland residents who are not completely confident in a medical diagnosis should consider seeking a second opinion from another provider.

Residents in and around Portland, Oregon, who are concerned about the quality of their health care have good reason to be so. Vox explains that medical mistakes are one of the most common causes of fatalities in the United States each year.

These mistakes can involve mishandled treatment protocols. Examples would be medication errors or the wrong treatment being given to a patient. Other mistakes can be related to the actual diagnosis of a disease or condition. Examples would be a missed diagnosis or an incorrect diagnosis. In these latter cases especially, receiving second opinions could be very valuable in helping to prevent serious errors and potentially saving patients' lives. Also, Oregon law requires persons involved in a motor vehicle accident to file a report with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

When should someone get a second opinion?

Getting a second opinion could realistically be done at any time. The American Heart Association outlines that it is always the patient's right to do so. In some cases, health insurance companies mandate that second opinions are obtained. Certainly for routine preventative appointments when both the doctor and the patient agree there is no problem, second opinions may not be as important. But, in cases such as the following, WedMD.com notes that a second opinion may be very useful:

  • When physicians recommend treatments that are still in the experimental or testing phase.
  • When a person is presented with a diagnosis for a fatal disease.
  • When a patient must choose between one of many different options to treat a condition.
  • When the potential for serious complications or death related to the treatment occur.

Second opinions can also make good sense when a patient does not fully understand a diagnosis or when even the first provider is unable to be conclusive in a diagnosis.

Where should someone find a second provider?

Patients are advised to look outside of the first doctor's medical group or organization when seeking a second opinion. The Patient Advocate Foundation explains that the reason for this is to ensure a truly fresh view is received. A given medical group may feature providers that share a common approach to medical care and this may prevent a second opinion from being truly unique.

That said, it is wise to ask a first doctor for the name of another one from which to seek a second opinion. A good physician will be happy to help patients get additional input.

Important choices to make

Patients bear the responsibility of choosing which opinion to follow. At the same time, discussing a case with a lawyer is recommended when concerns about diagnoses or treatments arise. This is one way that Portland residents can be in charge of their health.