A second opinion can be one of the most valuable tools in the medical field when it comes to ensuring proper diagnosis and treatment. So why is it reported that nearly half of Americans never seek a medical second opinion? Second opinions matter more than most people realize. According to a recent study, 10% to 20% of cases are delayed, missed or incorrect.
Medicine is not an exact science
Unlike physics and chemistry, medicine is not an exact science. More often than not, medicine is interpretive. Some doctors believe there is not a “right way” to treat a patient. A lot of factors on diagnosing and treating a patient are dependent on the physician. For example, physicians vary in the way they are trained, what they specialize in, and whether they practice at a private facility or a hospital.
Doctors are human
Jonathan Epstein, M.D, John Hopkins pathologist said “patients should recognize that a pathologist is a human capable of mistakes.” It is difficult for every physician to correctly diagnose and treat every patient. Patients can have more certainty that their diagnosis is correct if they receive a second opinion.
Treatment is not working
Second opinions are also important when deciding on treatment options. Patients who have received treatment and have not seen improvement should seek another opinion.
Patients do not want to question their doctor
It is often uncomfortable for patients to question their physician, but when it comes to certain illnesses it is extremely important. A John Hopkins study of 6,000 cancer patients found that one to two of every 100 patients who sought a second opinion were initially misdiagnosed.
Many patients are not aware that physicians often seek second opinions from fellow physicians. Most physicians doubt their own opinions constantly. That being said patients should not be afraid of offending or insulting their physician by receiving a second opinion.
Receiving a second opinion can be done online
Today, second opinions are easier than ever – patients now have the ability to receive second opinions via the web even when imaging is required. For example, companies like Grand Rounds give patients the ability to receive a second opinion without ever leaving their couch. Hospitals like Weill Cornell are also making their way into the virtual second opinion imaging space.
The Internet provides a new window of opportunity for any provider to provide second opinions. DICOM Grid has helped both Grand Rounds and Weill Cornell provide their patients with insights and advice through the DG second opinion platform. In three steps, patients can upload their medical images and associated reports to seek a second opinion. Making it easy, and cost effective not only for the patient but for the provider as well. Providers are now able to expand their medical reach and share insights to patients across the globe.