You may place a lot of faith in your family physician, but you may, too, be remiss to take everything he or she says at face value. Research regarding how often family physicians misdiagnose serious medical conditions is showing how important it is to seek a second opinion anytime you receive a serious diagnosis.
According to AARP, a Mayo Clinic study of patients who decided to seek second opinions after their doctors diagnosed them with serious conditions revealed doctors misdiagnose their patients in about a fifth of all cases.
By the numbers
The study, which involved 286 patients who had serious conditions, showed that only 12% had their physicians accurately diagnose what was ailing them during their initial visits. Another 20% of those patients had their doctors tell them they had something that was completely inaccurate.
An additional 66% of those patients had their doctors make diagnoses that were only somewhat correct, meaning they had to seek a second opinion elsewhere before getting the full story.
Consequences of medical misdiagnosis
Unfortunately, when a doctor misdiagnoses your condition and you have something serious, it may have a grave impact on your prognosis. In some cases, medical misdiagnosis may delay your recovery because you may not be getting the treatment you need for your condition to improve. In other instances, having your condition misdiagnosed may mean that you undergo harmful treatment you do not really need.
The second opinion
Since doctors are not correct all the time, having another set of eyes on you may boost the chances of you finding out what is truly wrong. When your doctor diagnoses you with something serious, it is always wise to get a second opinion. Misdiagnosis contributes to about 10% of patient deaths and up to 17% of adverse hospital events.
Securing a second opinion may help you avoid becoming part of these statistics.