New tool may prevent delayed treatment in Maryland, rest of U.S.

One of the biggest concerns on the minds of patients who are facing a potentially serious diagnosis may be whether there is enough time for a second doctor's opinion. There is a new tool that may help some patients avoid the dangers of delayed treatment while seeking another medical professional's opinion. The service is online and available here in Maryland as well.

The service was conceived and built up by a radiologist who felt that people should have access to a second opinion that could possibly change their diagnoses and treatment for the better. A patient uses the service by uploading copies of their reports, such as MRIs or CAT scans, to the service's website. Once there, a provider with a background in that specific area will read the reports and return an answer within a day. One woman who had consulted the website was relieved to be told that her possible cancer diagnosis was a less serious infection instead. The man behind the idea has said that he hopes to offer anyone an opportunity to consult a licensed health care provider in a more timely fashion than a traditional second opinion would require.

A study conducted by John Hopkins hospital discovered that mistakes in diagnoses were the biggest issue in health care, leading to more harm to the patient as well as increasing costs. Patients who have access to the new online tool may possibly be able to have their initial diagnosis verified or receive a different diagnosis entirely. Another benefit to the patient is the relatively low cost associated with the service.

At a time when wait times for second opinions may translate to a less favorable outcome coupled with the fact that many insurance plans will not pay for another physician's input, this service may indeed be exactly what the doctor ordered. However, regardless of how innovative this new tool is, there will remain many patients who will be harmed by delayed treatment and other errors on the part of health care providers. Maryland residents who believe they or a loved one may have been a victim of medical malpractice do have the right to file a civil claim against the physician or medical facility they believe responsible for their increased pain and suffering.

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