The importance of seeking a second medical opinion

After getting access to health care, the next step for most people is finding a quality provider. Establishing a relationship of trust and respect between patients and providers is important in receiving medical care. With people taking the time to find the right fit, it is no wonder that among the top five occupations the public ranked as most honest and ethical, three were in the field of health care, shares Gallup. The number one spot went to nurses for the 16th year in a row.

Despite these high numbers of satisfaction, the dark secret of the health care industry is that medical errors are the third leading cause of death, reports NPR. Common fatal mistakes include misdiagnosis, surgical errors and wrong drug or dosage. The high risk of these actions reveals the importance of getting a second opinion.

Protect yourself from medical errors

No matter how wonderful your doctor is to you, a general practitioner is not an expert in every area of medicine. Your doctor may make the wrong diagnosis, recommend the wrong treatment or not find anything wrong with you at all. Even specialists of specific diseases and treatments can have differing approaches or make mistakes. Therefore, it is imperative you get a second, or sometimes even a third, opinion to increase your safety. This method becomes even more important when you have cancer or a rare illness.

Be involved in your care

Although accountability ultimately relies on your providers, do what you can to help them avoid error. Provide thorough, accurate information concerning your symptoms, medical history and activities. Ask questions to increase your understanding and discover treatment options. Discuss what will happen before, during and after any surgeries so you know what to expect and may be able to recognize negligence and potential mistakes. Speak to an attorney if you suspect or know you have been a victim of medical malpractice.