Receiving a difficult or potentially debilitating diagnosis can be overwhelming and frightening. If you’ve been diagnosed with an illness that could significantly impact your life, should you seek a second opinion?

According to a Harvard Medical School publication, second opinions can help individuals weigh options in situations when the next steps aren’t clear. For example, if you have any reason to doubt your doctor or have reason to suspect your diagnosis might be incorrect, seeking a second opinion from a specialist is something to seriously consider. Even if you have faith in your physician, a specialist can either confirm or clarify your choice of treatment, giving you the confidence to move forward, knowing that you are taking the right steps for your health.

Why a second opinion can be helpful

  • If medical professionals are giving you conflicting advice, a tie-breaking opinion from an expert in the area can help clarify your treatment path
  • Sometimes, a second opinion can change the diagnosis. With a something like cancer, this can mean the difference between life and death and prevent needless suffering from unnecessary treatment—or provide life-saving treatment.
  • It can save you money. If the original treatment plan was expensive and proves to be unfounded, your second opinion could save you hard-earned funds needed elsewhere.

What should you do in the event of a grievous misdiagnosis?

If you learn from a second opinion that your first doctor misdiagnosed you and you suffered needlessly as a result, there are legal options available to you. If the progression of your disease could have been prevented with proper treatment, there is recourse. A mistake like this qualifies as medical negligence, which is a form of medical malpractice. You can explore the facts of your case with a qualified attorney.