You are entitled to take an active part in your health care, and getting a second opinion is part of that. People, including doctors, make mistakes, and if you do not gather as much information as you can about your illness, you might become part of the statistics of misdiagnosed patients in Louisiana. A second opinion could confirm the original diagnosis and give you peace of mind, or it could result in a different diagnosis with an entirely different treatment plan. A different doctor might deem suggested surgery unnecessary.
Even if a second opinion confirms a diagnosis, a different doctor might provide information about alternative treatment options. It is impossible for one doctor to have all the information about every single available clinical trial and study, and gaining more knowledge might help you to make an informed decision about your treatment. You can even seek a third opinion if the first two are vastly different.
Typical reasons for seeking a second opinion
You do not have to give a reason for asking for a second opinion, but in the following situations, it makes sense to get one:
- Your gut feeling: You know your body best, and if your gut tells you not to trust the first diagnosis, you are entitled to seek a second opinion. If you feel uncomfortable with a doctor’s diagnosis and advice, ask questions, do some research and gather as much information as possible — including a second opinion.
- Continuing symptoms despite treatment: If you went with your doctor’s diagnosis but his or her treatment plan seems unsuccessful, and your symptoms persist, you can seek a second opinion. The fact that one treatment plan did not work does not mean you will have to live with chronic health problems.
- Risky recommended treatment: The fact that your doctor suggested a surgical procedure or treatment plan does not mean you have to agree to it. It might be dangerous, invasive, or have adverse long-term consequences, and it would be smart to explore alternative options by consulting with another physician.
- Rare disease: The name indicates that not much information is available about it. Therefore, if your doctor diagnoses you with a rare disease, you have even more reason to do your own research — not only about the condition but also about doctors who have treated others with similar symptoms.
- Cancer diagnosis: A cancer diagnosis is serious, and seeking a second opinion makes absolute sense. Such a diagnosis is a life-changing event that could be overwhelming, and research about the prognosis and treatment options is essential.
Your legal rights
If you are suffering the consequences of misdiagnosis, you might have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, this is an extremely complicated field of the law that you should not tackle without experienced legal counsel. As mentioned, doctors in Louisiana are fallible, and they make mistakes, although they almost never admit to making errors. It takes the skillful navigation of a Louisiana medical malpractice attorney to prove deviation from standards of care in pursuit of recovering financial and emotional damages.