When Should I Get a Second Medical Opinion?
September 1, 2021 by Marlow Hoffman

A Second Medical Opinion may be the very thing that saves your life. When diagnosed with a serious, life-changing illness, not everyone knows how crucial it is to ensure you've received the correct diagnosis and best possible treatment plan. 

This September is Second Opinion Awareness Month, which focuses on creating better health outcomes to improve patient care worldwide. We're shining a light on this topic so that you and your family have a better understanding of when and why expert second opinions matter.


Here's what you need to know:

  • A diagnostic error can mean the difference between a patient living and a patient dying.
  • More than 250,000 people in the U.S. die each year from medical mistakes.
  • 21% of medical cases are misdiagnosed.
  • Up to 80,000 people die in hospitals each year in the U.S. due to misdiagnosis.
  • 88% of second medical opinions result in changes to the initial diagnosis or treatment plan.
  • Three major disease categories—vascular events, infections, and cancers—account for nearly three-fourths of all serious harms from diagnostic errors, prompting researchers to call it the "big three."
  • Most people will receive an incorrect or late diagnosis at least once in their lives.
  • Diagnostic errors are the most common, most catastrophic, and most costly of medical mistakes.


Will any second opinion do?

In short, no. When facing a serious diagnosis or life-changing illness, it's not the time to settle for any old second opinion. Instead, seek a second opinion from one of the world's most renowned specialists for your specific diagnosis—a leading physician who's at the forefront of cutting-edge treatments and technologies. Getting an evaluation from the best of the best will give you peace of mind and confidence that you've received an accurate diagnosis and the most appropriate treatment plan. 


When should I seek an Expert Second Opinion?

While you can seek a second medical opinion at any time for any reason, here are some of the critical situations that should prompt you to get one:   

  • When your diagnosis is unclear.
  • When your doctor recommends surgery or a major procedure.
  • When the diagnosis is cancer.
  • When you have several medical problems.
  • When you are not responding to treatment as expected.
  • When your recommended treatment is risky.
  • When your doctor tells you your condition is rare or life-threatening.
  • When you've lost confidence in your doctor.
  • When you think another treatment option might be available.
  • When the patient is your child.
  • When you want peace of mind that you have the correct diagnosis and best treatment plan.


Will my doctor be offended if I want a second opinion? 

This is our most frequently asked question. Many people are worried they'll offend their doctor by seeking a second opinion. Don't be. 

Dr. Marc Shuman, President of MORE Health’s Medical Programs, says most physicians welcome their patients seeking a second opinion—it may even be a red flag if they don't. In fact, the American Medical Association code of ethics states that doctors should encourage their patients to obtain a second opinion when either the patient or the doctor feels it is appropriate.

Furthermore, requesting a second opinion has become more commonplace than most people realize. As with any big decision you make in your life, you want to be sure you're doing the right thing. Doctors understand that. 


How do I get an Expert Second Medical Opinion through MORE Health?

Accessing an Expert Second Medical Opinion through MORE Health is fast, easy, and available worldwide. The process is also completely virtual and GDPR- and HIPAA-compliant


Here's how it works:

1) Initiate your Second Opinion by phone, email, or website.

2) Your MORE Health Case Manager will reach out to explain the process, gather your medical records, and select the top Physician Specialist for your diagnosis.

3) A leading Physician Specialist from MORE Health will review your case through our digital platform.

4) We will deliver your Expert Second Opinion and recommended treatment plan through our patient portal within five days. Both you and your treating physician will be able to access the results.


If your company offers the MORE Health Second Opinion Employee Benefit, your second opinion will come at no cost to you; plus, MORE Health for Kids is included when your employer covers you and your family. If you would like us to contact your employer about adding our Expert Second Opinion Benefit, we're happy to reach out to them with more information.

We also offer our Expert Medical Second Opinions to individuals on a self-pay basis, both in the U.S. and internationally. While this service is not covered by insurance, your FSA/HSA funds may cover it. Contact us for more information.



About MORE Health 

MORE Health is a global digital healthcare company that provides peace of mind and confidence to make the best healthcare decisions when diagnosed with a serious life-changing illness. MORE Health delivers second medical opinions virtually through their proprietary GDPR and HIPAA-compliant platform, connecting the world's leading Physician Specialists with the patient's treating physician for the highest level of health outcome for the patient. Available as an employee benefit or individual case basis. For more information, Contact Us.


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References: 

250,000 people in the U.S. die each year from medical mistakes, BMJ, 2016

21% of medical cases are misdiagnosed, Wiley Online Library, 2017

80,000 people die in hospitals due to misdiagnosis, Diagnosis, Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2020

88% of second opinions result in changes to diagnosis or treatment plan, Mayo Clinic, “Patient-Initiated Second Opinions,” 2017

The "Big Three," John Hopkins Medicine (Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence), 2019

Most people receive an incorrect or late diagnosis at least once, “Improving Diagnosis in Healthcare,” National Academy of Medicine, 2015

Diagnostic errors are the most common, most catastrophic, and most costly of medical mistakes, John Hopkins Medicine (Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute Center for Diagnostic Excellence), 2019


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