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Don Jacobs
Don Jacobs
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When to ask for a referral to a specialist

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The phrase “can I get a second opinion” has been satirized throughout medical history, however this simple question could mean the difference between a fair and reasonable settlement, or years of payment on medical bills. Far too often injuries which go untreated or do not resolve themselves could have been helped by a second opinion, and as a result, go unsettled in the courtroom. When involved in litigation over medical injuries a second opinion might be the best opinion.

Consider that you’re faced with the possibility of expensive surgery and years of rehab, or the possibility of medication and a quick recovery. The first recommendation was suggested to you by the doctor you saw immediately after the accident. The second by another doctor shortly thereafter. The option of medication was not suggested at first, but it may be a much more cost effective and medically safe option.

A study published in “the annals of surgical oncology” stated that getting a second opinion on conditions such as breast cancer “changed the initial diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment in 80% of the 340 study subjects.”

Getting a second opinion also shows due diligence. If you are not recovering, a second opinion can bolster your evidentiary support of injury and need for medical care.

When seeking a second opinion it is also important to check your insurance plan to see what it will cover. Though insurance companies might limit your choice of doctors, plans should still allow for second opinions, although prior authorization may be necessary.

An important tip when seeking a second opinion is to make sure your medical records have been sent to the second medical professional. The actual copies of MRI film or other scans are usually more helpful to the second provider than simply the report by the first doctor.

If you have persisting medical injuries that are not healing or progressing, this is an excellent time to seek a second opinion. In fact, if you don’t, it may be used against you in court. Allowing the first doctor’s opinion to go unchallenged can look as though the patient has assented to the care and didn’t want other advice. Doing the appropriate due diligence and preliminary work in regards to medical treatment can help you not only in the hospital, but also in the court room.

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    Despite the gibberish being spouted to fight health care reform, people really do need to be involved in their care. They need to ask questions and make sure all options are looked at. Very helpful information.