Washington residents: You deserve a second medical opinion

There's no bigger relief than visiting your doctor, reciting your symptoms, being told that what you're feeling is normal and there's nothing wrong with you.

But is everything really OK?

Not all the time.

In fact, a 2017 study by the world-renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, showed that when patients came to them for a second opinion, more than 20 percent of the diagnoses were incorrect.

Just 12 percent were correct.

The rest of the patients had received a diagnosis that partially agreed with what Mayo Clinic doctors found after examination.

The National Academy of Medicine reported in 2015 that about 12 million people will be misdiagnosed or have a delayed diagnosis each year.

The Mayo Clinic research showed that diagnostic mistakes lead to about 10 percent of patient deaths.

"Diagnostic error is an area where we need more research, more study and more information," said the Mayo Clinic study leader. "The second opinion is a good approach for certain patients to figure out what's there and to keep costs down."

In all, the Mayo Clinic researchers looked at 286 patients who had seen primary care physicians, nurse practitioners or physician assistants. Their conditions were serious enough that they sought a second opinion at the clinic.

So, what does this mean for you?

Well, it shows that anytime you receive a diagnosis of a serious illness, such as cancer, or are told you need surgery, you should seek a second opinion. It is worth the extra cost of the extra visit to make sure you are on the right treatment path.

What if you didn't receive a diagnosis of a serious condition but really think there's something wrong?

Trust what you're feeling and return to your doctor for a second look. If you don't think your doctor is listening or taking you seriously, move on to a second opinion from another physician. You know your body and its signals.

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