The average person puts total trust in the doctor overseeing their care. Whether you need treatment for chronic illness or surgery because of a traumatic injury, you expect the doctor knows what to do and how to do it.
Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of people in the United States fall victim to medical malpractice every year. The doctor might misdiagnose them or not diagnosed them at all. The surgeon could make a mistake during a procedure ranging from operating on the wrong part of their body to leaving something behind that later causes an infection.
The possible mistakes are nearly endless. When you suspect a medical mistake, asking for a second opinion may be the only way to protect yourself.
A doctor from an unrelated practice can give you an objective perspective
Getting a second opinion when it comes to diagnosis often requires just making an appointment with a different physician. It’s important to find someone from a completely separate practice, possibly even someone who doesn’t have admitting privileges at the same hospital as the doctor whose practices, diagnosis or treatment you now question.
One of the most difficult scenarios for someone who needs a second opinion is hospitalization. When you are already an inpatient somewhere, every physician or medical professional working for that facility has the same employer. That means they will have an internal bias that affects how they respond to a mistake by a co-worker.
Although it can be difficult and may require transfer to a different facility, if you suspect you have not received good care in the hospital, you have the right to ask for a second opinion to receive an objective answer.
An outside opinion can help you spot a medical mistake
Even when you ask another doctor at the same hospital to take over your care, they may not openly disclose to you the obvious mistake made by the physician previously managing your care. You need an objective outside perspective to determine if a medical mistake occurred and get the care you need to correct it.
When a second opinion does reveal medical mistakes, you may need to consider whether you have grounds for a malpractice claim against the physician or hospital that managed your care.