There are two main ways that cancer can lead to medical malpractice. First, a doctor can miss the signs of cancer (even when they’re obvious), causing delays in treatment that lead to much poorer potential outcomes. Second, a doctor can diagnose you with cancer by mistake – and that can lead to unnecessary medical treatments that cause massive damage to your body.
Whether you’re worried that your doctor is ignoring signs of a serious problem or rushing to an incorrect diagnosis, there’s one thing you can do to protect yourself: Get a second opinion.
How do you get a second opinion?
First, the vast majority of doctors understand that patients want to be cautious, especially if they have serious health concerns. Most doctors won’t take offense if you tell them that you want to get a second opinion before you either commit to treatment or put your fears to rest.
In fact, you can usually enlist your doctor in your search for a good second opinion. Say something like, “I just want to make sure that we’re not missing something. Can you recommend someone you trust to give me a second opinion?” (If you’re not comfortable with that, you can always ask your primary care physician for the referral, instead.)
In addition, take these steps:
- Check with your insurer to make sure you understand their policies on second opinions. Most insurance companies allow them – and some encourage them.
- Ask for a copy of your lab results so that you can take them to the second doctor.
- Get copies of any scans (MRIs, CAT scans or x-rays) sent to the second doctor in advance of your visit.
- Make sure that you take a list of all your medications, drug allergies and symptoms with you to the second doctor so that you don’t forget anything important.
Hopefully, these tips will prevent a serious medical error from happening. If it’s already too late, however, you need to explore your legal options for a medical malpractice claim.