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The Importance of Getting a Second Opinion

“I’d like a second opinion.”

That’s all there is to it. It’s not that difficult to say. But it’s important to consider a second opinion. It’s when another healthcare provider reviews your medical records to provide you with a diagnosis and treatment recommendation. This second opinion may be the same as the initial one, or it may suggest a different approach and more recommendations and a different treatment plan.

You shouldn’t be concerned about offending them. Most likely they’ve been through second opinions and understand that they’re routine. In fact, a good doctor will support and encourage you, and can be a terrific resource for where to find a second opinion.

Most doctors know that patients have the right to a second opinion and frequently encourage it. Remember that you’re under no obligation to be treated by the first doctor you see if you feel that another doctor better meets your needs and with whom you feel more comfortable.

Second Opinions Can Pay Off

A 2017 study by the Mayo Clinic found that as many as 88% of patients seeking a second opinion will leave the doctor’s office with a new or refined diagnosis. Moreover, 21% of them will leave with a “distinctly different” diagnosis. On the other hand, this study discovered that 12% of patients will learn that the original diagnosis was correct. As a result, one out of every five patients they saw was incorrectly diagnosed.

There are a number of reasons why a patient should ask for a second opinion. Let’s look at some of the most common reasons:

Doctor philosophies. Some providers are more conservative, and others are more aggressive. As a consequence, their findings and recommendations can vary to a great degree.

Treatment preferences. Depending on their training and experience, doctors can have different treatment preferences. A second opinion from another doctor, specialist or clinician may give you new and different insights to consider.

Access to treatment options. Not all hospitals and providers have access to identical treatment options. A second opinion could lead you to a more advanced treatment or to one more customized to your specific needs. In addition, there also may be nonsurgical or less invasive treatment options to review.

Specialization. Your surgeon may not specialize in your procedure, as they specialize in many different areas. If your surgeon has limited experience with your recommended procedure, a second opinion from another surgeon can help clarify your treatment plan.

Ask Questions

Find out how your providers arrived at their conclusions about your case. Some of the questions you can ask include the following:

  • What were the most important factors you considered?
  • Is surgery a typical treatment for this condition?
  • How is my situation similar to or different from other patients you’ve seen
  • Are there minimally invasive or noninvasive treatments that could be a fit for my circumstances?


A critical part of the process is speaking with your current physician or surgeon about obtaining a second opinion for surgery. Remember, one out of every five patients in the Mayo Clinic study was incorrectly diagnosed.

You need an experienced medical malpractice attorney to have the best chance of a successful outcome in your medical malpractice case.

Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after hours, at home, or in the hospital to accommodate you.

Contact us today.