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Apr 05, 2017 08:49 AM EDT

Why Second Opinion From Doctors Matters, Research Says First Diagnosis May Often Be Wrong


A new study reveals that 88 percent of patients asking for a second opinion often go home with a new diagnosis. Consequently, more than 20 percent of these patients have been completely misdiagnosed by their first doctors. The Mayo Clinic study only shows that the United States health-care system still needs a lot of improvement.

In particular, just 12 percent of the people who went to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion received the correct diagnosis. The rest got "partly" correct, if not wrong, medical evaluations. Mark Graber, the founder of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, said in earlier media interviews that "diagnosis is extremely hard." For one thing, there are around 10,000 diseases known to man and only 200 to 300 have symptoms.

The National Academy of Medicine previously noted that almost every person will receive an "incorrect or late" diagnosis once in their lives. The report was released in 2015, the Washington Post reported. It added that 12 million people are misdiagnosed annually. Sadly, these errors are somewhat alarming aspects of patient safety.

Per Science Daily, the research suggests that a second checkup is important to quickly assess better lifesaving treatments. More importantly, it helps cut unnecessary medications that might alleviate the risks of the real ailment. On the other hand, the re-consultations that contradict previously dire situations greatly reduce stress for both the patient and his or her relatives.

To better illustrate, the researchers used the records of 286 patients referred by nurses and physicians to the General Internal Medicine Division of Mayo Clinic. It covered cases between Jan 2009 and Dec 2010. For the record, almost two-thirds of the samples were younger than 64 and the majority are females.

It  was also found that 21 percent of 62 cases got a "distinctly different" diagnosis from the first consultation. Meanwhile, only 12 percent of 36 cases had the same checkup results. Thus, the remaining 188 cases are categorized as "partly" accurate but were "refined". The Mayo Clinic cited a different research that said: "diagnostic errors contribute to approximately 10 percent of patient deaths."

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