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How technology can help patients get a second opinion

May 17, 2017 | Failure to Diagnose

New York patients who are seeking a second opinion on a medical issue might be able to do so virtually, and this could reduce the incidence of misdiagnosis. According to the journal BMJ Quality & Safety, around 12 million American outpatients are misdiagnosed annually. The consequences of a misdiagnosis could include financial loss, treatments that are unnecessary, and a reduced quality of life or poorer outcomes for patients.

However, telemedicine and telehealth services may make it possible for patients to get a second opinion more easily. Technology allows people to communicate privately through messaging with doctors or to send data from monitoring devices to their electronic medical records. People may also have the opportunity to consult with specialists without having to travel long distances. This last point might be particularly important in some cases because people may have a rare condition or symptoms that are not typical for their condition.

These services are increasingly covered by insurance as well. Usually, a primary physician initially meets virtually with the patient and puts together a case summary after reviewing all relevant information. Documentation, along with the case summary, is passed on to specialists. One or more specialists, many of whom may be associated with prestigious academic medical programs, review the information and return a report to the patient.

While some cases may be difficult to diagnose without other opinions, in other cases, a doctor simply misses symptoms or does not respond appropriately. Misread test results could also lead to a misdiagnosis. If a misdiagnosis is due to some sort of negligent behavior on the part of the medical professional and the patients end up being harmed as a result, they might want to file a medical malpractice lawsuit with the assistance of an attorney.