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When you should seek a second medical opinion

Having a trusting relationship with your health care provider is important to your well-being because it will encourage you to be honest about any problems or changes you're experiencing. Going to the same person allows him or her to really get to know you and your health profile for the most personalized care. However, providers are humans, too. They make mistakes or simply don't have all the answers. Therefore, it's wise to seek a second medical opinion in the following instances to ensure you get the proper health care.

You have cancer

Not every disease requires a second opinion. Your provider is likely able to recognize most mild and common health issues. However, cancer can be complex to diagnose and treat. It's recommended that you get a second opinion if you receive a cancer diagnosis. Even if you've already started treatment, it's not too late to seek a different perspective, especially if you aren't responding to your current treatment or you have a rare type of cancer.

You don't feel confident about a diagnosis

It can be difficult to explain the symptoms you have, and tests can't reveal everything going on inside your body. If you sense that your provider doesn't have a full grasp o f your issue and has therefore come to the wrong conclusion, it's wise to seek a second opinion. Even if your provider ends up being right, you will have the peace of mind knowing this truth instead of wondering and risking improper treatment.

You want to know your treatment options

Although your diagnosis may be correct, the treatment your provider suggests may not be best for you. Sometimes there is no one way to address a health problem, and providers can vary on their approaches depending on their education, individual philosophy, experience and available technology. Researching your options through the counsel of multiple doctors may help you find the treatment plan that you feel comfortable with. You may discover less expensive or less aggressive procedures, or options your insurance covers.

Why you need a second opinion

A second opinion is a preventive measure. You help prevent incorrect health care, which can lead to the following:

  • Unnecessary costs and procedures
  • Injury and errors
  • Overlooked disease

If this happens, then consider filing a medical malpractice lawsuit with the help of an attorney. Medical malpractice doesn't just apply to negligence and carelessness. It also includes errors. The best way to avoid the serious consequences of medical mistakes is to seek a second, or third, opinion.

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