You received a diagnosis after getting a CAT scan, mammogram, or MRI. Your doctor proposed a treatment plan and prescribed medication. Are you comfortable with your diagnosis and treatment plan? Should you consult another doctor and get a second opinion on your images?
It’s OK to question a diagnosis, even if it comes from a doctor you know and trust. Medical advances and the rising use of imaging technology can make it difficult for physicians to stay on top of rapidly changing information. It’s impossible for any one doctor to master the pathology of the thousands of diseases that exist today; the same applies to mastering every imaging technique and specialty.
Getting a radiology second opinion is not a negative hit on your current doctor. It’s merely a way to minimize risk and get additional information that can help you make an informed health decision.
One of the main reasons for getting a radiology second opinion is to reduce the risk of medical errors. Minor and major medical errors can occur, either due to insufficient readings, lack of experience with a specific condition, or lack of thoroughness in examining the anatomy.
As reported by the Israel Journal of Health Policy Research, a radiologist may miss up to 32% of the lesions on a single chest x-ray reading. Also, from 2015-2018, discrepancies between two expert interpreters were reported in 22-57% of imaging studies. Discrepancies between clinical assessments have also been reported in 20% of breast cancer cases, 20-38% of pancreatic cancer cases, and 35% of patients who received a spinal surgery recommendation.
A second physician may also be able to propose alternative treatments or recommendations. They may get additional insights from the images that could affect your diagnosis and/or treatment. Even if the initial diagnosis was accurate, getting peace of mind from a second opinion can ease your concerns.
A second opinion may provide alternatives to invasive treatments or procedures. Each doctor approaches treatment differently, and another physician could potentially suggest a less invasive treatment option. It’s also possible that the original diagnosis wasn’t entirely accurate, and that more tests are necessary before making a firm diagnosis and going forward with a treatment you may or may not need.
According to an article by the American Journal of Medicine, literature from second reviews in pathology and radiology shows that although second opinions differ from the first in generally 2%-20% of cases, these changes can significantly impact the prognoses and treatments recommended.
The more informed you are about your condition, the easier it will be to make health decisions that minimize risk. It’s not dissimilar to other major life choices like choosing a college or settling on a geographic location in which to live and build a family. When making these choices, you consider multiple options, visit different places, and do enough research until you are convinced you made the right choice.
Consulting a second doctor involves the same process. You gather data and research until you feel educated enough to understand the risk vs. benefits and ask the right questions. The more information you have, the more you can exercise self-advocacy and feel empowered to make the best healthcare decisions. Talking to a second doctor can provide you with more information and equip you to handle your condition and treatment options better.
Getting a second opinion can also give you peace of mind and minimize the uneasiness that often accompanies receiving a new diagnosis. Whether you receive a confirmation of your first diagnosis or alternative treatment opinions, having another expert weigh in can ease your concerns and provide enough information for you to make the best health decisions.
You have gastroenterologists, oncologists, and neurologists—physicians who specialize in a particular section or system of the human body. The same applies to radiology.
Physicians can do a fellowship in a specific subspecialty of radiology and become board certified. Radiologists can become experts in interpreting images for particular parts of the body. For example, doctors can become pulmonologists or specialists in chest radiology. They can become neurologists or specialize in neuroradiology. According to the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, doctors can specialize in the following 11 radiology subspecialties:
Getting a second opinion from a specialist who has experience evaluating patients with your specific condition can be essential. It can help reduce medical errors and increase the chances of an accurate diagnosis. In the next section, we will offer tips on finding doctors with expertise in your specific condition.
Getting a second opinion on your imaging reports is common, and the process is fairly easy. Doctors can share your medical records with other providers in different facilities via secure systems. You can also talk to your doctor about recommendations for other specialists.
Paramount to getting a reliable second opinion is finding a doctor with ample experience and success treating your condition.
When we refer to “experience,” we don’t just mean board certification in a specific discipline, though that is a notable accomplishment for physicians.
Specialists extend their learning with active participation and research on specific conditions. The doctors who invest time researching and connecting with peers on one or a few conditions possess the most expertise in a condition’s pathology and treatment options. They are considered foremost experts in treating the disease, and seeing these experts can increase your success rates.
When searching for a doctor or radiologist for a second opinion, choose a doctor who has comprehensive experience in your condition. Look for:
To make the process of finding these top-tier doctors easier, we created MediFind, a cutting-edge platform that compiles information from dozens of medical datasets in an easy-to-understand format.
With MediFind, you can:
Our Second Opinion Finder helps you find medical experts who are most likely to give you a quality second opinion.
To use the platform, simply enter your original doctor’s name, your condition, and location.
MediFind goes to work compiling data from reliable medical sources and returns top doctors who have expertise in your specific condition and are likely to give you a different point-of-view on your treatment options.
If you are looking for a specific specialist, search for your condition first. For example, if you are looking for a radiologist who specializes in endometrial cancer, go to MediFind’s homepage and enter your condition. Your search will return a list of doctors who are experts in this condition.
Next, select your specialty (in this case, we chose Radiology) to narrow your focus.
Next, click on each doctor’s profile to find out the depth of the doctor’s expertise for the condition. MediFind pulls relevant medical experience for each doctor, such as the studies and clinical trials in which the doctor participated, articles published, board certifications, years practiced, areas of expertise, and our proprietary system for evaluating a doctors’ experience.
To learn more about how MediFind determines a doctor’s expertise for each health condition, read more here.
You can also visit our “Best Radiologists Near Me” page to find a radiologist who is an expert in your specific health condition.
If you are unsure of your condition, try our Symptom Checker. It narrows down possible diagnoses so you can narrow your focus when searching for the right doctors.
Whether to review imaging scans, a diagnosis, or propose an alternative treatment plan, getting a second opinion puts you more in control of your health. We created the MediFind platform to empower health consumers like you to get informed and fully participate in your health journeys so you can make the best possible healthcare decisions.
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