The Value of a Second Opinion

Mayo Clinic sees many patients who seek a second opinion — and for good reason

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Devan Brady prepared for a career in filmmaking before a serious diagnosis threatened to change her plans. She sought a second opinion at Mayo Clinic.

As a major referral center, Mayo Clinic sees many patients who seek a second opinion — and for good reason. In a recent study, Mayo researchers found that as many as 66 percent of these patients have their original diagnosis refined and in 21 percent of cases, changed.

Receiving care for the wrong diagnosis can send patients down a medical rabbit hole involving costly, ineffective treatments, recurring symptoms and a nagging feeling that something just isn't right. In the worst cases, diagnostic error can even be deadly.

That's where Mayo Clinic's expertise can be a true lifesaver, says internist Jon O. Ebbert, M.D. He serves as associate medical director for the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, which led the second-opinion study. The center investigates the "how" of effective, efficient care, with the ultimate goal of establishing evidence-based best practices that can be shared broadly within and beyond Mayo Clinic to improve health care for all.

According to Dr. Ebbert, there are pressing reasons for proving the value Mayo Clinic brings to patients with uncertain diagnoses.

"It's about the right diagnosis in the right patient at the right time, and then making the right treatment recommendation. As we go through changes in the health care system, we're going to need to continue demonstrating the value of referral centers in providing expertise for making the right diagnosis."

Patient Devan Brady, initially diagnosed by a local provider with neuromyelitis optica, benefited from a second opinion because of several factors Devan's second opinion benefited from several factors: a high-volume multiple sclerosis and NMO practice that sees thousands of patients a year, a team of experts who consult with each other, and the close integration of research into patient care that results in the most advanced diagnostic techniques.

The difference did not escape Devan.

"Mayo Clinic is just in a completely different wheelhouse — it's how health care should be."

Researchers in the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery use technology and other approaches to apply engineering principles to re-imagine the health care experience. Support our efforts today.