ROCHESTER, Minn. - Get a second opinion.
That's the message the Mayo Clinic is hoping to send by releasing a new study that points to the high importance of another physician's opinion.
The new study, which was published Tuesday, states 88 percent of those who came to the Mayo go home with a new or refined diagnosis -- one that changed their plan for care and "potentially their lives." They say only 12 percent of patients receive confirmation that the original diagnosis was complete and correct.
The Mayo study was based on the records of 286 patients who were referred to the clinic's General Internal Medicine Division over a two-year period. In each case, the patient's referring diagnosis was compared to the final diagnosis to determine any consistencies or errors.
In 21 percent of the cases, the diagnosis was changed completely.
In 66 percent of the cases, the diagnosis was modified or refined.
"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," said Dr. James Naessens, a health care policy researcher at Mayo that led the study.
The study also addresses the costs that can come with a second opinion, making note of the hurdles patients can be faced with including limited access to care outside their network, the confidence level of the primary care providers in their diagnosis and a patient's lack of knowledge or assertiveness to request a referral.
The findings were published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.