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How Telemedicine Is Changing Second Opinions

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North Carolina patients who are seeking a second opinion about a medical condition might be able to do so virtually. Telemedicine and telehealth services are increasingly available, and people can use them to transmit information from monitoring devices and consult with a physician.

A consultation with a physician is also the first step in getting a second opinion. After a person meets with the physician virtually and transmits any relevant documentation or test results, the doctor then writes up a case study. This case study is then forwarded on to specialists who review the material and prepare a report for the patient along with further recommendations. Since misdiagnoses may occur because a condition is so rare that a doctor is unfamiliar with it or because a patient has symptoms that are not usually associated with the conditions, specialists might be better able to make a correct diagnosis.

The ability to more easily get a second opinion can be important. According to a study published in BMJ Quality & Safety, around 12 million outpatients in the United States are misdiagnosed each year. Increased medical expenses, delays in treatment, unneeded treatments and a reduced quality of life may all be consequences of misdiagnoses. The wrong treatment could make a person seriously ill or might even be fatal.

If a patient suffers harm from a failure to diagnose, that patient might be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. It is also necessary to demonstrate that the patient did not receive a reasonable standard of care from the doctor. This means that the court recognizes that while not every diagnosis or medical procedure will be error-free, in some cases, the negligence of a medical professional may sometimes be the reason for the mistake, and if so, that professional might be liable.

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