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2nd medical opinions could reduce misdiagnoses and improve care

The high rate of misdiagnoses does not support the confidence that many people in New Jersey have in their medical providers. A Gallup Poll from 2010 showed that 70 percent of Americans did not feel inclined to get second opinions for their medical diagnoses. However, as many as one-third of diagnoses could be wrong or partially wrong according to the executive vice president of Advance Medical.

Among people who seek second opinions about their medical problems, a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that 88 percent of them received a new or updated diagnosis. For people facing serious illnesses, accurate diagnoses could lead to more effective treatments at earlier stages of disease. Time lost because of a misdiagnosis could raise the costs of treatment.

Although people have a right to pursue second opinions for any medical problem, the Mayo Clinic advises people to confirm their diagnoses if they are told that they have rare cancers. Other reasons to get a second opinion include lack of confidence in a physician and desire to explore more treatment options.

When someone is misdiagnosed, treatments received could be unnecessary, causing the patient to miss their chance for timely and potentially effective treatments. If a person suspects that medical negligence caused the failure, a medical malpractice lawsuit might be appropriate. Because high legal standards apply to accusations of medical errors, an attorney may be able to evaluate the case to determine its potential for collecting damages. To prepare a lawsuit, an attorney may obtain testimony from an outside medical authority. Approaching the medical provider and insurer with the evidence might result in a settlement offer of compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering and lost income. When litigation must proceed to a trial, an attorney may help communicate the evidence to a jury.

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