Second opinion from doctor nets different diagnosis 88% of time, study finds

ROCHESTER, Minn. — When it comes to treating a serious illness, two brains are better than one. A new study finds that nearly 9 in 10 people who go for a second opinion after seeing a doctor are likely to leave with a refined or new diagnosis from what they were first told. 

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic examined 286 patient records of individuals who had decided to consult a second opinion, hoping to determine whether being referred to a second specialist impacted one’s likelihood of receiving an accurate diagnosis.

The study, conducted using records of patients referred to the Mayo Clinic’s General Internal Medicine Division over a two-year period, ultimately found that when consulting a second opinion, the physician only confirmed the original diagnosis 12 percent of the time.

A new study finds that 88% of people who go for a second opinion after seeing a doctor wind up receiving a refined or new diagnosis.

Among those with updated diagnoses, 66% received a refined or redefined diagnosis, while 21% were diagnosed with something completely different than what their first physician concluded.

“Effective and efficient treatment depends on the right diagnosis,” says lead researcher Dr. James Naessens in a Mayo news release. “Knowing that more than 1 out of every 5 referral patients may be completely [and] incorrectly diagnosed is troubling ─ not only because of the safety risks for these patients prior to correct diagnosis, but also because of the patients we assume are not being referred at all.”

Considering how health insurance companies often limit the ability of patients to visit multiple specialists, this figure could be seen as troubling.

Combine this with the fact that primary care physicians are often overly-confident in their diagnoses, not to mention how a high number of patients feel amiss about questioning their diagnoses, a massive issue is revealed.

“Referrals to advanced specialty care for undifferentiated problems are an essential component of patient care,” says Naessens. “Without adequate resources to handle undifferentiated diagnoses, a potential unintended consequence is misdiagnosis, resulting in treatment delays and complications, and leading to more costly treatments.”

The researchers acknowledged that receiving a completely different diagnosis could result in a patient facing otherwise unexpected expenditures, “but the alternative could be deadly.”

According to the release, The National Academy of Medicine cites diagnostic error as an important component in determining the quality of health care in its new publication, Improving Diagnosis in Health Care:

Despite the pervasiveness of diagnostic errors and the risk for serious patient harm, diagnostic errors have been largely unappreciated within the quality and patient safety movements in health care. Without a dedicated focus on improving diagnosis, these errors will likely worsen as the delivery of health care and the diagnostic process continue to increase in complexity.

The study was published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.


  1. Both my good friend (advanced lymphoma) and my mother (mesothelioma) were misdiagnosed by Mayo Clinic where in both second opinions the specialists said there was no reason for both not to have been easily identified. My advice is if you have received a diagnosis from Mayo get a second opinion.

    1. It depends on which Mayo Clinic. Rochester is still the Prime. The other campuses are getting like all the other Med. Facilities – Carrying a name only – not the best in Doctors. Emory is now all over Atlanta now. Physicians buy into the Corp. of the name because of prior quality. Now, it’s all getting to be the same!

  2. A foster brother of mine had been diagnosed with ring worm at the Mayo Clinic.
    After he was adopted to a doctors family, they quickly figured out it was psoriasis.

  3. Referrals are usually made when symptoms might indicate something more serious, or when a surgical procedure is suggested. Primary care physicians are not all the fabled Hollywood Dr. Gillespie – the Sherlock Holmes of physicians. A significant part of their job is referral to specialists. Thus, refinements in diagnosis or discovery of something more serious is both common and appropriate. This study merely stipulates that a divergent diagnosis came from specialists. This “record review” does not validate the diagnosis of either physician.

    1. Perhaps not, but when you couple it with studies that show that a Dr. has generally reached a conclusion in the first minute or so, it’s troubling. I know many people that have had to diagnose themselves. One with a very serious blood clot issue and another that simply had a case of the mumps. There are many others and I’m sure everybody has stories like that. Many Dr.’s are unwilling to be questioned, don’t want to explore other avenues and many don’t keep up. That’s why when you find a good one you have to hold on for dear life and hope they don’t get fed up with the profession.

      1. When a Physician only has 15 min. to diagnose – How can they really listen, type up on the computer and really examine??

          1. Obamacare forces physicians to use a computer dummy. You want more time with the doc but don’t want to pay for it.

          2. Doctor’s aren’t allowed to spend more time with their patients and are forced by Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rates and by pressure from administrative types to spend only 20 minutes on a patient unless they are a new patient (then 45 minutes). That includes MAs or nurses taking vitals and patient information, diagnosis, and deciding how to treat. No time for chitchat.

      2. I am a retired health scientist, and I always check webMD, MayoClinic, etc. on the web before seeing my physician. I want to know what I might have so I ask relevant questions. I guess it all hinges on how involved you want to be in your own healthcare.

        An anesthesiologist friend at work told me about the concierge medical practice he used. You pay an annual retainer fee of $1600 to $2000, which includes a 1st-class annual physical. Your insurance still pays for visits, tests, and treatments as usual. But a typical visits runs 20-30 minutes with lots of discussion. You doctor enters the examining room prepared with all the notes, x-rays, lab tests etc., and you go through them item-by-item. When you call, you are seen in under 24 hours – right away if an emergency.

        Of course, many people cannot rationalize that extra retainer cost. I put it off for 5 years. However, when my primary care doc and I disagreed twice about my diagnoses – and tests proved him to be wrong both times – I decided my healthcare was worth at least the price of an annual membership in a gym or tennis club.

        1. webMD has too many opinions not always confirmed by facts. Mayo has better quality studies and information. The NIH database is very exhaustive, but it takes time to learn.

          In several cases the NIH database saved a lot. In one case when admitted to the emergency room of one of the highest rated hospitals in the Washington DC area. the nurse came into the room with two bags to start an IV they were going to start on one arm. I stopped her asking, what was in each bag, one was magnesium, so I asked if the two were compatible. Oh we have used this combination for years was her answer. I demanded she check with the hospital pharamcy for compatibility. Response for each with each other was variable and variable. They wanted to continue but I insisted they find find out what variable was saying. They contacted the supplier and discovered that the two used at the same time was fine if each was on their own IV tap (one left side and one right side). But when both are on the same arm their is s documented risk of colagulation, the process of the blood turning from a liguid into a gel.

          There were two other questions during the diagnostic process they couldn’t give me a correct answer to, so I kept researching and asking questions.

          Want to live longer assume nothing and demand answers to reduce risks. Have a computer to use and keep going to the medical databases with the best research studies.

          1. There are scads of websites that review the pros and cons (the latter usually being cost). Use Google or otherwise search using the terms “concierge medicine.” In most web browsers, if you type those words into the address bar, it will search. Your best approach to finding a concierge practice near you is to add your zip code as a 3rd search term. It is even possible that your current doctor offers concierge service. Here are two websites for large concierge medical practice networks that have doctors in multiple states: (with whom my doc is affiliated) and Good luck!

      3. another time, My then PC dr “missed” diagnosing shingles as muscle pain. It was only after two further days of pain in the neck that an ER Dr called it right.

        1. Same here, after missing the shingles in the emergency room and a follow up with my GP, my grandmother diagnosed it within 5 seconds of looking at my rash.

      4. As an orthopedic surgeon I’ve had many patients come to me singing the praise of another md that I know to be incompetent and others to disparage mds that I know to be best in their field.Treating patients and pleasing patients are two different goals and often have very little in common.Just because you like or agree with your doctor doesn’t mean they are correct.

        1. But will you admit this to the patient/public. Most doctors around here, Louisiana, cover for each other to the point of abetting malpractice. One hand washes the other to keep from getting sued.

          1. When I refer patients to other specialist I refer only to physicians that I would personally use.Most physicians come from the top 10% of their college class.They may not be great doctors but they are smarter than most other professions.No one is perfect and to be quiet honest 50% of what we think is correct now will be proven wrong in 50 years.This idea that we conspire to keep pts in the dark is ridiculous.

      5. Most problems are of such a nature that a competent, experienced clinician can make an accurate diagnosis quickly. Everything from your skin tone to how you walk provides clues to your condition. Plus in most cases, by the time you see the doc, his nurse has talked to you and gathered preliminary information that the doc has looked at. I’m not bothered by *most* diagnoses being made in a minute or so. Now if a doctor does that all the time I would be concerned, but most cases do not require more time.

    2. When will they start to report how many people died waiting 2 hours in the Doctor’s waiting room. I wonder how many had false “High Blood Pressure” readings because of the frustration of waiting???

      1. I once waited 12 hrs in ST Mary’s emergency room for antibiotics and an albuteral treatment bc my PC “missed” the pneuomonia diagnosis, even though I directly queried abt it to him at the initial visit..Ps I had to INSIST on the albuteral treatment there as well.

        1. Stethoscope in the ears of a trained physician, chest x-ray, CT scan if indicated, oxygen saturation levels, and serology all belong in the toolkit enabling conclusive diagnosis of pneumonia.

          “albuteral [sic]” doesn’t diagnose anything. Albuterol is a bronchodilator which relaxes airway muscles and thereby improves lung airflow. The correct antibiotics can cure episodes of pneumonia.

          The antibiotics were worth the wait; although otherwise health folks almost certainly contract and recover from pneumonia all the time, and without medication or other treatment in ‘medical’ settings.

    3. I will offer another perspective for you; primary care physicians are also often mislead by the very referrals and tests they order, particularly radiology. So much of medicine now days relies on medical imaging for accurate diagnoses. Many people erroneously assume this is a black box test like your lab work; however, this is reliant on very highly trained radiologists making judgement calls in a very difficult field of medicine. The quality is NOT the same!! Studies have been published before showing similar findings..the same imaging study interpreted by radiologists at a higher caliber medical institution led to a significant change in diagnosis in about 80%. Any primary or specialty physician relying on this inaccurate diagnosis is crippled. This is important because we see now this idea of “shopping around” for imaging studies because prices differ, but remember, you are also paying a physician to interpret those images and you get what you pay for! At our tertiary care facility, we often see patients get their imaging done somewhere else because it is “more convenient” but the quality of the study is often very poor and the interpretations far too often inaccurate. You may also find that in cost saving measures or just to maximize profit, imaging centers often ship images to be read overseas for a very low price by physicians in India or such. You should always be weary and question who is actually reading the imaging studies you are getting, what are their credentials, and what is their training. You wil also see a drastic difference in performance when comparing “general” radiologists to specialty trained, like Neuroradiology or Pediatric Radiology.

    4. Assuming your primary is not discouraged from making referrals by the insurance company (i.e. more pay for less referrals).

      1. Who expects their insurance to pay for everything? I do not want insurance companies driving my and my doctor’s treatment decisions.

        Imagine hearing: “My doctor said it might be cancerous, but BlueXYZ won’t pay for a referral to a specialist to find out for sure. I feel fine. It’s probably not cancer…”

        These are same people who hear from a specialist two years later: “The tests shows it is malignant. There is little we can do at this stage. Had we caught it earlier the odds of recovery would have been high, but…..”

        1. My kid lost some of his hearing due to his doctor’s reticence towards an ENT referral (always just prescribing antibiotics). Found out later that there was a monetary incentive to not do referrals. Finally we forced the issue but it was too late and, even though he got tubes within 2 weeks, the damage was done. This was 20 years ago and I’m still pissed.

  4. This may be the case at Mayo Clinic, but in the world of industrial, impersonal medicine, one doctor after another will sign onto the original diagnosis and continue to treat the wrong illness. This how a patient can go from doctor to doctor over a course of years and not get better untill a fresh investigation and diagnosis is made.

    1. It all depends on the institution you’re dealing with and if you can get your doctor’s notes (by law you should be able to but many institutions say err??)( speaking of that, you would be surprised who within any institution has access to your medical records).
      Anyway, my brother has almost been killed twice, both times by a primary who never should have become one. He took a look at a spot on his leg and said nothing but ya ok go see a derm so they made a 3 month appt, turned out to be the worst which the derm identified immediately. Primary should have made an immediate appt. Second time a urologist finds an induration on his prostate, puts the note in his file to follow up, does not mention it nor follow up, at the same time his primary is afraid to do prostate exams so 6 years later full blown cancer, high gleason and removal. AND all this is from a {cough cough} allegedly famous and reputable institution.
      Every nurse I have ever spoken with has repeatedly said “Get a medical advocate or become a medical advocate for yourself, take the time to learn or pay someone to do it for you, period, because they all make mistakes”.

    2. It appears new Drs these days are trained to fill out a PRESCRIPTION and not much else………unless one gets lucky enough to have a Dr that was trained in South Africa. These Drs are great.

    3. You have to remember that most doctors won’t overrule another doctor as professional courtesy. They won’t testify against each other, and damn sure will not say another did something wrong. Morbidity and Mortality class in medical school is nothing but a class on how to cover up mistakes under the guise of “Learning”. That class is where you learn to “find” causes other than malpractice or mistakes.

      1. You have no idea what you are talking about. “Morbidity and Mortality class in medical school” does not exist. Morbidity and Mortality conferences are held in residency, and are for the purpose of reviewing cases with unexpected complications or deaths. It sounds to me like you should apply to Medical School and become a doctor. Then you can set things straight and correct all the errors that are being made.

      2. You are not obligated to say to another doctor that you need second, third or other opinion. What country do you all live? What doctors do you choose? Your health is your obligation. Do your homework.

      1. I have the sense that A.I. Diagnosis may function under some of the same assumptions – always go to the obvious. I have no quarrel with doctors, most of them. I do resent being treated like a widget on an assembly line in a doctor’s office.

  5. For several years I struggled with a rib pain that would not go away and sought opinions from several doctors in several states who each had a different diagnosis. Several thousands if not tens of thousands in tests, bone scans, CT scans, even cardiac scans it appeared I had not choice but surgery to try and figure out the issue. My regular doctor was away and a mostly retired doctor was filling in for him when I showed up to get treated for a sinus infection. He noted that I had been seen for the other pain and told me…you realize this pain will go away after a couple of weeks if you would not carry stuff against that side of your ribs and used the other side instead? It did…it was something called rib tip syndrome that is very common and I have not had the pain since.

  6. Could there be a phenomenon taking place where the very act of fishing for a second diagnosis, because the first one is not to ones liking, is subconsciously subtly influencing the second opinion makers diagnosis. After all if the initial diagnosis is as dire as is usually the case when seeking a second opinion what does the second opinion have to lose by offering long shot hope with a more radical course of treatment. As far as the 20% TOTAL misdiagnosis conclusion reached by the 2nd physician it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a given that the initial diagnosis is incorrect. Of course the second opinion has the advantage of working off the initial diagnosis by looking for errors where if they had been the the first physician they might have come to the same initial conclusion. My Rx is don’t get sick and good luck.

    1. If a patient’s diagnosis being not to their liking can subconsciously influence a second opinion makers diagnosis then you are right, they are opinion makers. Posers of science.

      1. I may be on the wrong track here, but I believe he may be talking about the diagnosis of veterinarians, regarding illnesses with people’s pets. Perhaps that they too give different opinions. Just my guess.

        Of course, come to think of it…. I could be completely wrong….in which case we may need to get a second opinion 😉

          1. I thought it was along those lines, but given the topic, I felt it best not to jump to conclusions. I do appreciate you confirming the diagnosis 😉

      1. Gee, you must have better things to do than make such insightful comments. Get out of here! Gloria would be proud.

  7. I tell ya, I don’t get no respect. I went to see my psychiatrist…he told me I was stupid. I said I want a second opinion. He said, okay, you’re ugly too. – Rodney Dangerfield.

      1. Ha, ha, but how sad. That is why doctors call their business a “practice”. That is what doctors do, they just practice on you.

        Last summer, US Health Care industry admitted it was No.3 cause of death in USA, due to “mistakes”. But, the No. 3 rating only included hospitals, and did not include doctor’s offices and clinics, which is where most of the damages occur. If we include all doctor’s “practices” they become No. 1, 2, and 3 cause of death. MDs are quacks who follow destructive Rockefeller medicine, they are big pharma’s kill teams sent to destroy lives. Properly prescribed “prescription” drugs kill over 200,000 Americans every year. If you sold a product like this you’d be in prison for life.

        Stay away from MDs, they are emergency medicine only, to be used for emergencies like car accidents, gunshots, illegal wars, etc. You’re much better off doctoring yourself for common ailments using products like colloidal silver, or even oregano oil and turmeric. I like Advanced Silver Company, but all 10ppm solutions work great, and silver kills fungus, bacteria, and stops viruses. Big pharma has same silver, but they prefer to sell you something patented, even if they create deadly superbugs. Its just more business for pharma when they do.

        1. Can you imagine what medicine will be like in 5 years when all of the SJW snowflakes graduate from medical school and are unleashed on the world.

        2. Yeah, tell that to Steve Jobs. BTW, who exactly is “US Health industry” that admitted to this? Where can one find them? Also, colloidal river only works if you wear a chin strap and a feather on your tin-foil hat.

        3. I use raw garlic. It probably has similar effects – anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic. The universe of natural remedies is as wide as planet earth. The universe of main-stream medical remedies is as narrow as a cash register.

      2. Likewise. I thought his brand of self-deprecating humor was brilliant. He was an absolute master at getting all of the key elements put in place in just a few words, and then delivering a funny punch line. He made it look easy. The good ones always do.

  8. It seems to me that it would be in the interest of insurers to have a second diagnosis. Mistreatment or non treatment of an illness/injury could result in higher overall costs to the insurer than the cost of a second specialist opinion.

    1. My insurance company pays for second opinions. I guess they hope the second opinion will cost less to treat then the first opinion.

  9. isnt it reassuring- NOT wayne- to know that any 2 doctors agree on the self-same issue as your life and death diagnosis only 12% of the time- that’s nutzoid as its life and death in so many instances and only shows your hard earned healthscare funds are being wasted up the yingyang (theirs) because there’s no rhyme or reason to the professional opinion of one verses 2-3-4 or niore mired in bloody muddy doctors witch (sorry my spelling is off) only 12% way medicine like voodoo witch magic is being practiced these paydays (theirs) only the good ole us of a thanks for nothing obama

  10. It’s so common to misdiagnose low back pain that a cpt code was developed called “failed low back surgery syndrome.” The surgeries are often done formthemwrong reason. Go conservative. See a chiropractor first


  12. i don’t find that unusual or undesirable……modern medicine is the most complex and nuanced discipline in the world….mastery of even a tiny fraction of it is a gargantuan superhuman task….so differences of opinion and interpretation are the rule, not the exception, in difficult or obscure cases, which are legion.

  13. Latrogenesis, physician induced illness, is the third leading cause of death. The time of my Doctor knows best, has long passed.

  14. So you THINK that the Russian election hack is off the publics’ radar??? Well tomorrow, 4/9/17 it will be FRONT PAGE NEWS! The New York Times is set to release a BLOCKBUSTER story tomorrow – THE NAMES OF THE TWO RUSSIAN AGENTS BEHIND THE DONALD TRUMP ELECTION HACK!!! The NYT claims to have HOURS upon HOURS of what it calls “extremely reliable surveillance footage” showing two here-to-fore nameless Russian operators: Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. It shows the duo working their clandestine operation code named “Moose and Squirrel” that spanned a range from the halls of power in our nations capital to rural Minnesota – all coordinated by a power broker called “Mr Big” and an as-of-yet-to-be identified double agent known only as “Mr. Peabody” and his “trigger man”, Sherman!! It is said that even the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are involved! Just the kind of journalism that you’ve come to expect from the New York Times!

    1. Beautiful Jellystone National Park photos coupled with the article; wonderful place. I don’t understand how Boris and Natasha keep ending up there. Even if they wrecked the whole park, who’d really care?

    2. “Just the kind of journalism that you’ve come to expect from the New York Times!”

      ………………………………….. “ALL the news that’s _ _ _ _ to print.”

  15. If I need a limb reattached or a severe wound sewn up, I’ll see a doctor. For everything else, I’ll deal with it on my own.

  16. This study looked at referrals from a primary care physician (PCP) to specialists (not patient’s seeking a random second opinion). Referrals are made when the PCP — advocating for the patient — is seeking a higher level of care from a specialist. This is generally a good thing, even if it leads to a new diagnosis (after all, the intent of the referral is to help the patient). The study demonstrates that a majority (79%) of patients referred to a specialist had the same or refined diagnosis. For example, if a patient complained of chest pain, and a primary care physician’s EKG or stress test was concerning, an appropriate referral to a cardiologist might reveal a refined diagnosis such as narrowing in a certain coronary artery. Who would consider this a failure on the part of the referring physician?

    This article’s insinuations are causing lay readers to draw incorrect conclusions. Sadly, it will likely gain more traction as popularized on sites like Facebook and the DrudgeReport.

    1. I’ve had times when we concur abt specialists, and times when I KNEW he was dead on wrong, and that it would take me extra suffering or a second to get the RIGHT call.

      1. Lincoln didn’t have the Internet. It can be used intelligently, not just the way “doctors see patients” ie, Googling their headache and thinking they have brain cancer, etc. There is good info to be found on the www. IMPORTANT. You always need to consider the source. Peer reviewed, double blind studies done by teaching hospitals vs. some Joe Blows blog for example. I could go on and on….but I will spare you. You get the idea. Good day.

    1. I suddenly couldn’t hear much out of my right ear.. It was Friday night, so I decided to call my doctor for a Monday appointment. Then I got worried. Never heard of anything like this before.. So, I used google, and got a surprise! Within a half hour, I was in an ER. Nurse called a sleepy specialist, a good one. I got meds (corticosteroids) within the hour. Saved the hearing in my right hear..
      Very rare disease. They want me to donate my head to medical science.
      It’s so rare, that one ear-nose-throat specialist got it, and decided to wait until Monday.. He lost all hearing in one ear.. I guess he didn’t have Doctor Google..

  17. Of course they keep mocking EMF exposure just like when the profession mocked disinfecting hands between surgeries and smoking.

  18. Both my parents passed away a couple years ago, and I think that the doctors got it wrong on several accounts. My dad had pneumonia and a doctor gave him some medication that made his kidneys worse, and basically told me “Ya, I knew it would increase his creatinine levels.” Man, that was the one thing we were really monitoring and trying to get down. He died within the next day or so. For my mom, it took almost four months for someone to finally tell us that she had had several mini strokes. There were at least three or four doctors who saw her that should easily have known what it was and they either just rushed to judgment as she was “old” or scheduled this or that to pass the buck. Sad.

  19. Is there any information on how often the original diagnosis turns out to have been the correct one and the dissenting second diagnosis in error? Just because you get a second opinion doesn’t mean that second opinion is the right one.

    1. Get a 3rd opinion. Also, unless time is of the essence, try the cures that are cheapest and least risky first. I acquired a digestive problem in Costa Rica resulting in a swollen belly and what felt like WWIII if I drank any alcohol. I had about 6 tests done in the USA including a fecal exam. I was told that I did not have a problem, but stay away from alcohol and lose weight. Six months later I was in Colombia where I saw a pharmacist who told me I had a parasite since so much time had passed with no change in symptoms. He gave me 3 large pills for large parasites and 5 small pills for small parasites (pharmacists, a Doctor of Pharmacology, can prescribe medicine for free in most countries outside the USA or refer you to a doctor for tests). So, I took the pills as instructed and waited 10 more days before consuming any alcohol. The problem was solved at a cost of about $4 after spending thousands in the USA for tests. I think that doctors are inclined to reach a diagnosis for problems with which they are familiar.

    2. You don’t, but it is a red flag to you that more input is required. If you have differing diagnosis the insurance company cannot deny further opinions from multiple sources.

  20. Only if you are lucky enough to go to a doctor outside of the Original Doctor’s Group or Hospital. The Mayo and Cleveland Clinic are the best. Locals not so much!

  21. Many doctors are unable to look at an MRI or CAT scan and decide for themselves if anything is amiss. Some healthcare facility technicians send all scans out to a third party to be summarized into a report. Your doctor may then simply paraphrase the report to you as if it is his own diagnosis. When you take your scan and it’s report to a second doctor for a second opinion, make sure he does not also simply paraphrase the report to you. Some doctors are unable to form an opinion other than what is in that report. Every scan, from broken ankles to brain tumors, created by your local hospital may in fact be diagnosed by a single doctor located in India. The internet allows for that nearly instantaneous transfer of information.

  22. In the last ten years it seems doctors have gotten incredibly greedy with their time and more aggressive grabbing money. Doctors now want you to see their PA first so they can bill you twice & give 2 wrong diagnosis. Good “bedside manner” is nonexistent and they don’t want to answer many questions….probably because they have no clue or answer.

  23. After my regular PC DR refused my WC case, I had “MY” neurologisat/orthopedist’s nurse(who treats me for degen arthritis) tell me that without a workman’s comp number they wouldn’t see me in waterbury ct, despite being chosen as the designated initial care in the injury, because they are a “business”.. so I had to go to a chop shop who gave me pills and sent me back to work with an obvious neurological issue..and a referral to that very same Dr…NOW WC is sitting on the case and I am stuck waiting for approval bc the “nurse” admittedly didn’t know how to process initial care forms. of course Workman’s comp doesn’t “hurry” anything, because individual employees aren’t held responsible for their inaction.

  24. trouble is, what makes the second opinion always correct? What if the second Dr. is wrong and instead of getting treatment you are told you are OK and you are not.

  25. When will one be able to sit in a chair and have blood, saliva, urine, sweat, hair, breath, heart rhythm & etc analyzed by a Dr. Watson supercomputer with follow up CT scan or etc? That would seem to be enormously thorough and efficient. The machine could make referrals of course.

  26. If Doc Nr 2 confirmed what Nr 1 had said, the patient might return to Nr 1 next time – since he/she had it “corect.”

  27. I went to the doctor when i was healthy and he told me I was sick. I asked a doctor how many patients he has cured and he told me we don’t do that. Think about it no diseases cured ever. They create a disease and manage it according to your insurance. I decided to only go to the doctors if I was really sick and it has been ten years now. I don’t even know who my primary care physician is.

  28. Imagine if a civil engineer designed a building or a bridge, and 88% of the time a second civil engineer would look at his design and say it was wrong. That engineer would be fired. Yet with doctors, it’s perfectly fine. Oh,yeah, and let’s pay them a half million a year while we’re at it.

  29. The study is flawed because they failed to include the underlying broken system that we call medicine . Both physicians and patients have been far more damaged by the system which has replaced basic medical ethics and physician autonomy with a fear based environment. “First do no harm” has been replaced with first do harm to your career. whether a physician works for corporate medicine or in private practice they must “go along to get along” and whistle blower protection for physicians who advocate for physician does not exist. In other words good ethical caring physician routinely put the needs of patients first but will inevitably burn out or be driven out by greed from insurance companies, their employers who want them to see 4-5 patients per hour or by the licensing boards (government).
    I am amazed at the lack of understanding or indifference to the truth about our current medical system . Money runs medicine and patients will rarely, if ever, find good care unless they are rich or lucky, Patients with excellent insurance will get 5 opinions and diagnosis’s if their insurance allows but in the end are nothing more then a cog in the wheel of medical extortion. Consider this fact drug companies run Washington and we do not allow alternative medicine as a acceptable approach to medical care and then you will understand why the cure for cancer has been around for better than 30 years. Follow the money !!!!!

  30. So true. About 8 years ago, I was having horrid neck and arm pain. After MRI, x-rays, etc a reputable orthopedist told me I needed immediate surgery. Went to another ortho doc who referred me to a pain orthopedic specialist. Lots of physical therapy, exercise, home traction and prayer/meditation. 8 years later, my neck problems are under control and I never had any invasive surgery. Always get that second opinion!

  31. What’s missing here is which diagnosis was correct, the first or second, or even neither. A second opinion is important only if A) the first was wrong and B) the second was correct, but we have nothing indicating that was the case. And if 80% of the time one of two diagnoses was wrong the odds are great that at least some of the time both were wrong.

  32. I stopped trusting doctors, when my Neurologist from Scripps said there was nothing more they could do for my non-diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy in my feet. This ailment has kept me from walking more than a mile before having to stop, or I’d be on pain medication which would eventually destroy my kidneys and liver.

    There is a definite reason they call it: “PRACTICING MEDICINE”. The figure they don’t want you see, is how many people are killed each year by either missed diagnosis, wrong prescription, corrected prescription given to the wrong person etc.

    “The U.S. health care system may contribute to poor
    health or death. According to Dr. Barbara Starfield of the
    Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 250,000 deaths
    per year are caused by medical errors, making this the third-largest
    cause of death in the U.S., following heart disease and cancer.”


  33. Yeah,I was listening to the radio and had on the Peoples Pharmacy.The guy went to his doctor friend for blood work.He told his doctor friend do me a favor, my son requested that you take another blood sample and send it out to another lab.The doctor did,and when the results came back he was amazed,and he thought is was from two different people.The blood work results were way different when compared.!!!!! Now what does that tell you.!!!
    Remember when the doctors go on strike,the death rate goes way down..!!

  34. According to the numbers presented only 12% of these second opinions actually produced a “different” diagnosis. The rest appear to have refined or confirmed the original diagnosis. Research confirms that research can confirm whatever it sets out to confirm and that headlines can be written accordingly.

  35. Eventually, human diagnoses will be replaced with AI diagnoses. When that happens, there will be much less chance of differences between first and second opinions. However, whether the results will be better than what we have currently is anybody’s guess, since AI is only as good as its programming allows it to be.

  36. My wife has a “gi” problem and we have gone to 4 GI Dr. and they can not figure it out. We have had a consult to Mayo for 3 years, TRY TO GET IN, JUST TRY. GOOD LUCK!!

  37. why the [and] here?
    ” may be completely [and] incorrectly diagnosed ”

    ‘completely incorrectly’ seems fine on its own. otherwise aren’t you implying ‘completely diagnosed’? that seems wrong.

  38. Fully agree. Get a 2nd opinion on a general principle especially on major health issues, infections, surgeries, etc. Amazing what the prognosis is from 2 Doctors on the same problem.
    do some of your own research before seeing the Doctor so you are familiar with the problem and can ask questions.

  39. Medicine, the term they like to use which is correct that this Study left out is all MD’s are “Practicing Medicine”.

    They use a book of Symptoms to tell them what Drug you need. Now if they are having a difficult time they will place a call to other Dr’s to discuss your issue.

    All the while your setting waiting for the Dr to return and most of the time with the wrong Prescription he has for you.

    A good rule of thumb is, when you tell them your Symptoms and their eyes glaze over it’s a very good sign to get up and leave, find another Dr…

    Remember Dr’s are “Practicing Medicine” They are not experts..!!!

  40. “That is a second opinion. I changed my mind.” “I don’t know what you have, which is why I am prescribing a ‘Cure-All'”.

  41. It seems rather obvious that there are at least two (and likely more) reasons for seeking a “second opinion”, and those differing reasons are why the 88% change in diagnosis is TOTALLY, AND COMPLETELY, INSIGNIFICANT.

    1. The patient’s ailment isn’t responding to treatment.
    2. Not all specialists are equally skilled.

  42. The Lubavitcher Rebbe advised people for years to ask two doctors and that one of them should be a friend.

  43. U no when ovamitcare kicked n our old timey docs retired and the mussy & indian docs moved n- a lady i no jobs is HR- job is to verify docs r docs- now keep n mind they hav to work n small town 4 two yrs b4 applying to a big hosp- 40% of those docs R NOT DOCS! They been practicing n a small town for two yrs- how many old people hav they killed or small children etc? I think this is a REAL SCAREY STATISTIC!

    Then look how many people r diagnosed w/cancer! Do they really hav cancer? Lots of money in treatg cancer – lots of money in the meds too! In essence u r told u hav cancer by a foreign doctor who then gives u chemo which kills good & bad cells n ur body- beginning to think the foreign docs r killing us on purpose! Had to compile a list of my sisters docs involved w/her cancer – they all had the same mailing address which i found to b weird! They say: let me get w/my team- their teams consist of other mussy/indian docs- JUST SAYN: TOO WEIRD!!!Something Americans really need to START THINKING ABOUT!

  44. I’m surprised this eighty-eight percent figure for misdiagnoses isn’t even higher. The type of diseases we are diagnosed with depends on what kind of equipment a particular doctor owns.

    When the Wall Street Journal replaces the medical journals, we shouldn’t be surprised at what happens.

  45. Literaly everytime i go to a specialist my diagnosis is always different. My diagnosis always seems to change based on the speciality of the doctor. As an example, I wanted to prove that doctors were BS. So i decided to go to an “Ear Nose and Throat” doctor. Without having any throat problems i anticipated that he would say i have Gastrointestinal Reflux. Thats exactly what happened! He wrote me a script for Omeprazol. What a joke.

  46. Some of these doctors , just because they went to school , doesn’t mean they know what there doing .

  47. For almost any set of symptoms there are numerous health problems that fit the bill. Finding precisely what is wrong often requires time. A doctor may say “I think it is probably this, and if it is what I think, then this will help you, if it’s not, then come back and we’ll do more intensive tests”. The patient may not like this, so they go to another doctor. After conversing with the patient, the second doctor realizes that the patient will not accept the same diagnosis as the last doctor, and so the second doctor proposes another possible health problem that could match their symptoms.

    In that case, it’s not so much of a disagreement between doctors as it is the patient steering the second doctor in a different direction from the first.

  48. I do not know about 88%, but as an attorney I must say that many many times the second opinion from an attorney can be quite different from the first.
    And look at appellate judges’ opinions in a case. It is fascinating how nine judges who heard the very same case can arrive at such differing ways of looking at the application of the law.

  49. The different opinion of the doctors is not the only thing I noticed. They also do not use the same exact test equipment or machines, and those things can give different results that lead to different opinions and remedies.

  50. BLOOD PRESSURE. I went to one hospital and that doctor used a stethoscope and watch and he says 133. A private clinic doctor used a wrist wrap and it said 98. A different city hospital and doctor who used the arm wrap and it said 113. I went to a WalMart and their machine said 116. All of these readings in a 6 day period. Screw them. I trust WalMart.

  51. A chest X-Ray showed a spot on my lung. A PET scan showed it was metabolically active. A surgical biopsy showed it was cancer. The pathologist diagnosed as an extremely rare lung cancer that my surgeon said was 95% likely to have been cured by surgery. Good news. It did not occur to me to seek a second opinion. Two years later, follow up chest X-rays showed new spots on other lung. Doc said it could not be same cancer as it does not behave that way. New biopsy at different hospital gave different diagnosis. Re-checked first tumor and said it was same kind as new ones. So instead of stage I rare lung cancer I had stage IV melanoma. Treatment delayed by two years. Unknown how this will turn out. So sometimes even when you hear good news you should get a second opinion. Maybe with pathology that is always the case.

    1. Hi D, I read one of your comments about cancer treatments on another website and I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions in private (by email, if that’s okay with you).

      1. Hi Lilly. Sorry for the delay. You can find me on Facebook with same username and you can pm me there I believe.

  52. Unlike all my “Natural” and Vegan friends- Doctors are an essential part of your health care team. But they almost always have a “God complex” and are very offended if you mention you read something on the internet or want to see another doctor. In the past, my PCP said I had Emphysema and would be dead in a year. I went to a different doctor and he said my lungs were fine. 5 years later- and I am still alive and no Emphysema. I just had allergies. Another PCP said my heart was as healthy as a 18yo. I had chest pain so I refused to believe him and went to another doctor and he found out I had 2 arteries blocked to my heart. Haha. Almost every doctor’s office now has multiple copies of the WebMD magazine in their waiting room- but God forbid you ever mention you read something on WebMD! Haha. When I mentioned I read something on the Mayo Clinic’s website my PCP said “Don’t listen to them! I know what I am talking about!”.

  53. Interesting but this should be an indicator of what further study should be done. It should not be considered definitive. Notice that these were patients who, either on their own or at the first doc’s suggestion, went for a second opinion. It was a select sample, not a study of all diagnoses. The study says nothing about those who were satisfied with the first diagnosis.

    A definitive study would send random patients for a second opinion, whether those patients or their doctors had requested it or not. That would give a better idea of how often the first diagnosis is corretc.

  54. In other news, a new study confirms that studies that study studies are far more likely to have been the study of a study of a study.

  55. And health care cost continues to rise. We don’t accept this kind service from car dealers. Our Daughter recently spent three days in the hospital and no diagnosis. Mom told her symptoms sounded like thyroid. Her doctor confirmed. No wonder most people have lost faith in health care.

  56. This is pure BS. If this is what we pay the highest healthcare costs in the freaking world for. Our medical system has been hijacked by thieves masquerading as doctors.

    1. This proves without a doubt that American healthcare RIPS YOU OFF. 90 PERCENT !
      How can they say they are not stealing !

        1. Either the first opinion or the second in 90 percent of the cases was wrong. But the dumbass gets paid regardless.
          Our healthcare system is a f,ing joke.

  57. We have a bloated, overpriced healthcare system that is bringing us all to our collective knees. Just like the bloated, overpriced, easy federal loan, higher learning racket.

  58. If our doctors were perfect it would be 0 difference. Obviously that would be unrealistic. BUT 88 % is criminal.

  59. I remember several years ago, a woman named Hillary, whose husband was the President, ushered in a thing called “Managed Care”, that put the “cheaper primary care doctor” in charge of your health care, and the “cheaper primary care doctor” was financially penalized for referrals to a specialist.
    If your insurance plan includes a “panel” of doctors, requires a “preauthorization” by the insurance company for tests or procedures, or requires that tests or procedures be done at a place of their choosing, then you are experiencing a remnant of this.
    One thing strikes me as a bit odd about this study. The doctors at Mayo are assuming that they are correct about the new diagnosis, and the prior doctor is incorrect. The opposite may be true, as there is no mention of any confirmatory method of the new diagnosis.

    1. Medical just denied an MRI for my injured hip and I haven’t been able to walk for over 2 months now. Back to my PCP to let them know. Much suffering ahead. 🙁

  60. It really sounds like the Mayo Clinic is trying to drum up some business for itself. Things must be slow.

  61. I have had six wrong diagnosis’ in six years. One from a local ER doctor and five from VA doctors. One doctor, after a few mins of talking and no exam, said my gall bladder had to come out! Turned out to be an HPelori infection removed with antibiotic treatment.

    Since the medical “practice” is the number three cause of American deaths (wrong or mis diagnosis, wrong meds, etc.) one should certainly be cautious on any duagnosis that requires meds or invasive treatment.

    1. I had the exact opposite just happen. First ER doctor said it was constipation and sent me home. They took my highly inflamed and infected gall bladder out two days later.

  62. “A new study finds that nearly 9 in 10 people who go for a second opinion after seeing a doctor are likely to leave with a refined or new diagnosis from what they were first told.” The assumption is that the 2nd opinion is the correct diagnosis. I would like to see the data that confirms that assumption.

  63. It’s happened to me over a suspected cancer seen on ultrasound. In fact two doctors in the same specialty practice, literally standing shoulder to shoulder looking at the same scans had differing opinions. It turned out to be negative, thank God.

  64. Always remember folks, healthcare is business only in it for the money. Doctors offices have turned into drive through chains.

  65. How about a study that looks at all diagnosed illnesses and see what percentage of those are are wrong? Anyone that seeks a second opinion has already found that the original recommended treatment hasn’t worked so of course the percentage would be high. This study, or at least the way it is presented is misleading.

  66. Medical just denied an MRI for my injured hip and I haven’t been able to walk for over 2 months now. Back to my PCP to let them know. Much suffering ahead. 🙁



  67. The trouble with studies like this is that there is a selection bias. If you took your kid to one physician who diagnosed an ear infection, chances are the next 20 docs you asked would come to the same conclusion. Second opinions are rarely needed or asked for with typical symptoms of common diseases. I often refer patients for a second opinion when the symptoms are unusual, or don’t fit the typical presentation of any particular illness or disease. The problem in medicine is that there are a limited number of symptoms and a boatload of possible causes. I have been a family doc for over 30 years, and even now, hardly a week goes by that I don’t see something new. The fact that second opinions often result in a different diagnosis does not necessarily mean a doctor is incompetent. it usually means the case is complicated and the cause obscure, or the second opinion would not be asked for in the first place.

    1. The trouble with your profession is that you rely on other people’s research (which is often the drug companies’ research, all of whom have a vested interested in selling you, and hence your patients, their drugs) in lieu of you using your own common sense and experienced-gained knowledge to treat your patients minimally and effectively. Instead, you treat them with drugs, sometimes new and dangerous drugs, of which you know nothing except what the drug company prospectus feeds you with its own biased data.
      Other than the surgeons, who practice nuts-and-bolts and fix-the-plumbing type medicine, I have absolutely no respect for your “profession”, having lost a spouse, two siblings and multiple friends (none of which had terminal diseases and instead died due to the drugs they were prescribed or faulty treatment) thanks to your profession’s bungling, lack of knowledge and incompetence. I think it is sad how many people blindly come to the practitioners of your profession with hat in hand thinking that you actually have the answers.
      Myself, I haven’t gone to the doctor in years, and chronologically, I’ve outlived all those in my circles who had.

      1. Much of what you say is true. I have become very disillusioned with the current narrative, which is driven by the drug companies. For example, the number of otherwise healthy people who benefit from a flu shot, in an average year, is 1 in 100. that’s called the number needed to treat(NNT). I find that result pathetic. That’s why I don’t urge them on my patients who are healthy. I have brought this up on medical forums, and you would think I eat babies for breakfast by some of the responses I get. Statin therapy for primary prevention has an equally dismal record, as do bisphosphonates for osteoporosis, at least in my opinion. Not everyone buys the party line, Manfred.

    2. The problem with that is that most people who aren’t feeling better after the first treatment prescribed by their doctor don’t go to another doctor for a 2nd opinion. They go back to the original physician. This study only looked at those going to another doctor. I’d be interested to see how many times the SAME doctor got it right the 1st, 2nd or 3rd time.

      1. I’m not sure that is an apples to apples comparison. For example, I am currently looking into a case of extreme fatigue. My first level of evaluation is to look for common causes like hypothyroidism, anemia, and liver or kidney dysfunction. These tests were all normal. Next, I am testing for more unusual etiologies like immune disorders(rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and polymyositis), and considering a diagnosis of exclusion, fibromyalgia. If none of that pans out, I will be testing for Lyme disease and some other oddball stuff. After the initial visit, I contact the patient by phone to discuss the next step. The cost for additional testing is beyond my control, but I don’t make a dime on the time i spend with them subsequently. I don’t think that is quite the same as your mechanic telling you your battery is bad when it turns out to be the alternator.
        I have had patients tell me that because the screening colonoscopy they had was normal, that they thought I should pay for it! Only once has a patient called me to thank me for insisting they get a colon exam than discovered an early, treatable cancer. That’s in 30+ years.

        1. If the mechanic billed you for every “test” he decided to run to “rule out” possible problems would you be okay with that?

          1. not sure where you are going with this. how can i find out what is going on without testing? if it costs the mechanic something to do the test, what is your problem? i don’t have one.

  68. With Obamacare deductibles & co-pay prices who can afford to get one diagnosis, much less two? And who can afford the meds & treatments for either, right or wrong?

  69. Since Obamacare, many experienced doctors are retiring. What we are left with is young doctors already burned out with poor bedside manners..

  70. This doesn’t surprise me at all. Most of the people who I know who were under a doctors care are now dead. I don’t go to the doctor at all and I’m still alive, outliving the oldest by several years. You might reason that all my friends had serious diseases and would have died anyway, but that is not the case. Granted, none were young (all in their fifties and early sixties) but none had a terminal disease and went to their respective doctors for relatively benign complaints.

    1. A bridge too far, Manfred. Your friends went to the doctor and the doctor killed them. Right. I assume all of their relatives successfully sued the nefarious quacks. No? Shocker. However, I am glad you have such an iron constitution. Good for you!

  71. First-“Second Opinion From Doctor Nets Different Diagnosis 88% Of Time,”

    Then-” Study Finds”Among those with updated diagnoses, 66% received a refined or redefined
    diagnosis, while 21% were diagnosed with something completely different
    than what their first physician concluded.”

    Fake headlines are getting more common all the time. They make perfect lead-ins for Fake News.

  72. If you follow the link the Mayo press release, 1/2 of the 286 patients in the study had the initial diagnosis made by a nurse practioner or physician’s assistant

  73. Do you think this may have something to do with why our healthcare costs are so high? I work in the service industry. If we don’t fix something right the first time, the customer doesn’t pay us to fix it again. We do it for free. Maybe if we applied that standard to the medical industry we’d see much lower costs.

    1. Our health care costs are high for a multitude of reasons that have little to do with doctors. As a society, we all pay for the services provided to those without insurance, for example. Same thing goes for your car insurance. Drug costs are higher here than anywhere else, because the pharmaceutical lobby owns a lot of pols. Insurance competition is limited and costs for diagnostic testing is not transparent. There are a lot of ways to lower cost, but also a lot of entrenched interests opposing them. When patients present with their diagnosis tattooed on their foreheads, then you can blame me all you like for a misdiagnosis. Till then, I think it unfair to blame those of us on the front line for the failures of those in the rear.

      1. I agree that there is plenty of blame to go around. The insurance companies are a big part of the reason costs are high. However, to say that incompetent doctors (not saying you specifically are) don’t play a role is pretty biased. Ordering tests to “rule out” obscure diseases or just to cover themselves from lawsuits is just as bad as the insurance companies crimes.

        1. i never said that there aren’t incompetent or lazy doctors. i personally order tests to look for what’s a possible cause for my patient’s symptoms. i start with the common, next the unusual, and finally the obscure. what else would you ask me to do?

          1. Also, when doctors DO order tests for CYA reasons, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Why don’t you blame the litigious system we have to practice in? That is the root cause of “unnecessary” testing.

  74. “Shared medical decision making”. It all comes down to the providers ability to communicate effectively and educate the patient with what is known/unknown at the time of the “diagnosis”.

  75. For a year now he has been passing out. It is only for 1 to 3 minutes and was only when he would start coughing. The doctor changed his medications around but he passes out when breathing a bit hard. Also his feet swell up and are numb all the time. He then started using a cane. i searched for alternative treatment before i was introduced to Health herbal clinic by a friend here in the United states she told me they have successful herbal treatment to Emphysema and other lungs diseases. I spoke to few people who used the treatment here in USA and they all gave a positive response, so i immediately purchased the Emphysema herbal formula for my husband and he commenced usage, its totally unexplainable how all the symptoms totally dissapeared, his cough was gone and he no longer experience shortness of breath(dyspnea), contact this herbal clinic via their email [email protected] gmail. com Or website www. healthherbalclinic. weebly. com. Herbs are truly gift from God

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