Does getting a second opinion mean medical malpractice occurred?

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

You may have been seeing your doctor or a specialist for years, but when a serious health issue arises such as a potential cancer diagnosis or a belief that major surgery is needed, it is only natural to question whether this diagnosis is correct. After all, many ailments have common symptoms, and many other ailments have various treatment options.

In such situations, you may wish to seek a second opinion. But is doing so the same as stating your first physician made an incorrect diagnosis and possible act of malpractice?

When to seek a second opinion

There are numerous occasions where it is common to seek a second opinion. If you are told you have cancer, it does not hurt to seek a second opinion. Another physician may have more insight into your unique symptoms.

The same can be said if you have an ailment but your first doctor cannot find a cause and/or solution. You might also seek a second opinion before undergoing any major surgery, to ensure there is no less-invasive option available.

When does a different opinion rise to malpractice?

If you seek a second opinion from a physician, you may indeed get a different answer. The second physician might issue a more accurate diagnosis or offer more appropriate treatment options.

If so, does this mean that your first physician committed malpractice by not providing you with a better diagnosis or treatment plan?

Well, proving malpractice is complex. Just because two physicians have different opinions does not necessarily mean one of them has committed malpractice. Malpractice implies a mistake was made that a reasonable physician in similar circumstances would not have made. In complex health situations, a breach of care at this level is not always easy to prove.

Still, if the first physician you saw made a mistake in diagnosing your condition or offering treatment that a second physician in similar circumstances would not have made, you might pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit if you have suffered financial damages because of the error.