Doctors in Oregon sometimes face the difficult task of telling patients bad news. When a patient is diagnosed with a serious illness, however, they may not consider that the doctor could be wrong. Even if someone trusts their doctor, getting a second opinion could be a good idea.
In the case of very serious or life-threatening illnesses, a second opinion is essential. A misdiagnosis might seem unlikely, especially if someone has a longstanding relationship with the doctor. However, doctors do make mistakes, and being misdiagnosed could lead to treatment that may actually be dangerous.
Another time a second opinion could be warranted is if a patient is comfortable with the diagnosis but does not agree with the doctor’s plan for treatment. Many medical conditions have different treatment options, and if a doctor is settled on one but the patient would like to know about other options, consulting another doctor could help.
One might feel guilty seeking a second opinion, but it is a patient’s right. Patients may also assume that they are required to inform their primary doctor about visits to other doctors, but this is not true. Someone who seeks a second opinion can choose to tell their doctor or not.
A second opinion could also be warranted when someone believes they have an illness but their doctor finds nothing wrong. Failure to diagnose could be as serious as a misdiagnosis. Doctors and other health care personnel are generally expected to perform procedures correctly. Patients have legal rights, and health care providers could be held liable when someone is injured or dies due to a medical mistake.