Second opinion

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This article is about the medical term. For other uses, see Second opinion (disambiguation).

A second opinion is an opinion on a matter disputed by two or more parties.


In legal cases, a second opinion which contradicts the opinion of a jointly retained expert may be disregarded as not being impartial.[1]

Consumer rights[edit]

In cases such as car repairs, a second opinion should be obtained in writing, and the original garage given an opportunity to rectify matters.[2] In the case of clients' disputes with domestic building contractors, the builder may seek a second opinion to confirm their view.[3]


A second opinion can be visit to a physician other than the one a patient has previously been seeing in order to get more information or to hear a differing point of view.[4][5] Some reasons for which a patient may seek out a second opinion include:

  • Physician recommends surgery.
  • Physician diagnoses patient with serious illness (such as cancer).[6]
  • Physician recommends a treatment for the patient other than what the patient believes is necessary.
  • When physician recommends elective surgery, it may be required by the insurance plan. In other cases, insurance will not pay for a second opinion. [7]
  • Patient believes he/she has a condition that the physician diagnosed incorrectly or failed to diagnose.[6]
  • The physician himself/herself recommends a second opinion.[6]

Cancer Second Opinions - United Kingdom[edit]

Getting a second opinion about your cancer treatment or diagnosis is relatively straight forward. You can ask your cancer specialist to refer you to another specialist or you can ask your General Practitioner (GP) to refer you or you can seek out a private second opinion. [8] Careful consideration should be taken when seeking an oncology second opinion, as delays in your treatment starting could alter the prognosis.

Workplace disputes[edit]

Second opinions may also be obtained by employers.[9]

Professional mediation[edit]

Professional mediators may be asked for second opinions regarding whether to proceed to trial or seek a settlement instead.[10]

Medical Error Reduction Using Second Opinion[edit]

Preventable medical errors - the 6th biggest killer in America! Preventable medical errors kill and seriously injure hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. second opinion service is important in preventing medical errors. As a result we help lower health care costs, reduce doctors’ insurance premiums and protect the health and well-being of patients.

Many recent studies report that the majority of Americans are concerned about medical errors. According to the Journal of Cancer, it has been discovered that up to 30% of cancers are misdiagnosed or missed by doctors. Other research shows that more than 50% of breast cancer patients who received a second-opinion had a change in their recommended treatment plan. The Journal of Radiology published a study claiming that error rates can be as high as 30%, even in the vital diagnosis of cancer. While it is not always the case, when they do occur, these errors, missed-findings, misinterpretations and improper recommendations lead to delayed medical treatment, or no treatment at all, which may lead to a horrible experience for the patient. Obtaining a medical second opinion helps to eliminate the possibility for misinterpretation or missed findings.

Diagnosis Error Is Costliest and Most Common Medical Mistake. According to a recent study conducted by the National Practitioner Data Bank that examined 25 years of malpractice payments, diagnostic errors are the leading cause of death due to medical errors. It is also estimated that 40,000 -80,000 Americans die from incorrect diagnoses each year. The study found:

Among claims filed for medical malpractice, misdiagnosis was the most routine and the most dangerous medical mistake made in the U.S. over the past 25 years, a study found. Death was the outcome more often in malpractice allegations related to diagnostic errors than in any other category of malpractice allegation.

Among 350,706 medical malpractice payments reported to a national database over a quarter-century, researchers found that 100,249 (28.6%) were the result of diagnosis errors, while 27.2% were from treatment errors and 24.2% were from surgery-related errors, wrote David E. Newman-Toker, MD, of Johns Hopkins Hospital, and colleagues. Diagnostic errors resulted in 40,000 to 80,000 deaths, they said, and cost $38 billion in malpractice claims payouts.

Dollars better spent on patient safety. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has, in recent years, recognized the potential for financial savings by reducing medical errors. CMS has stopped paying for hospital and practitioner errors, and thus created a financial incentive for hospitals to embrace patient safety.

Recent Patient Surveys Almost a third of Americans reported experiencing (or a close friend or family member) a medical error, according to several recent consumer survey. Such errors include wrong diagnosis which results in wrong treatment or surgery. Completed in July 2012, this survey consisted of telephone interviews with U.S. consumers. Over 70% of them reported being very concerned or somewhat concerned about medical mistakes, and more than 20% reported having been misdiagnosed by a clinician. Many Americans are taking additional steps to help minimize mistakes. 66% said they did their to have done their own research to validate a diagnosis or treatment plan. Over half (56%) sought a second opinion. Some other steps taken to prevent medical errors included delaying procedures until a day when a clinician might be more rested or focused, writing information down for the doctor or nurse, and, surprisingly, asking a clinician or nurse to wash their hands (18% of respondents admitted having to ask). Women are more likely than men to do research and get a second opinion. This recent survey also showed that many patients have strong confidence in technology being able to help reduce medical errors. 68% of those surveyed agreed that technology has had a positive impact in reducing the chance for medical mistakes.

Recent Physician survey In a recent survey of over 6,000 medical doctors, 50% of them said diagnostic errors occur in their office every month, and many of those errors cause direct harm to the patients. Patients may be able to reduce diagnostic errors by seeking a second opinion. Many trust their physicians, but when a doctor fails to properly diagnose the patient in a timely manner, they could be guilty of medical malpractice. According to a study, radiologists at Johns Hopkins found that almost 8% of radiological scans they reviewed had significant discrepancies. After the final diagnosis was given, the second opinion was found to be correct 84% of the time.