Doctors Who've Given A 'Second Opinion' Describe The Worst 'First Opinion' They've Ever Heard
Image by Elías Alarcón from Pixabay

Many of us grow up assuming that doctors are almighty, chosen people that know far more about our bodies than we ever could.

The context around the profession hammers home that outlook: they seem to be in school for practically forever, we pay them a lot of money, and they're always surrounded by instruments that look as powerful as they do bewildering.

But as we become adults and interact with doctors of all different kinds, we realize that they are humans like us. And that means they are prone to mistakes.

Unfortunately, a doctor's area of expertise makes the stakes pretty high for those oversights.

Thankfully, there's always another doctor out there to double-check those mistakes. Some Redditors who were on the wrong end of those initial mixups shared their stories.

CreativePhilosopher asked, "Doctors who have given a 'second opinion' diagnosis, what is the worst 'first opinion' you've ever encountered?"

Plenty of the responses to the thread came from doctors, some of whom were specialists. They spend their entire careers focused on one area of medicine.

So you can imagine how commonly they interact with patients who just came from a doctor that wasn't quite so stocked with knowledge.

Letting the Guard Down 

"I'm a gynecologist. The number of times I've seen patients pregnant and upset (or happy) because some other doctor told them they can't get pregnant - so they didn't use birth control - is appalling. Usually it's family med."

"Not ragging on all FM docs, just how it goes. I then have to explain that even if the patient has whatever condition that makes it unlikely for them to get pregnant, the odds are almost never 0%. Maybe <1%, but still not zero, so of course it can happen."

-- MDFlash

Tough Days at Work

"I'm a surgeon."

"Most patients come to me after having seen another physician who has diagnosed them with something and told the patient to see a surgeon."

"I've been called to see more than one patient for appendicitis....who has already had an appendectomy."

"I've also been called in multiple cases for patients who very obviously have previously undiscovered, very advanced cancer. It always too far advanced for me to be of help, so I have to I being called so I can be the bad guy and explain everything? Yes. The answer is yes."

-- AnatomicKillBox

Two Sides to the Story--The Truth is Somewhere in the Middle

"Doctor. This thread is helpful to see how important communication is. 90% of the stuff we diagnose it's a 'clinical' diagnosis and not confirmed by any lab test. Plenty of conditions too need time to declare."

"I see a lot of patients who come in saying their previous doctor said 'this' or was totally 'wrong about that' or 'now your saying it's this? Why didn't he/she know that.'"

"And when I go back and look at their (the previous doctor) note, they almost always give consideration to the new diagnosis but either something needed to be ruled out, or the patient presented differently that day, etc. They communicated it effectively to another doctor on their note, but not effectively to a patient who could repeat it."

-- JTucf35

Some patients are simply not taken seriously.

Instead, some doctors chalk their discomfort up to a vague diagnosis of mental influences on physical health. Of course, mental health is massively important in its own right.

But not when it's used as a metric for minimizing.

3% is Pretty Stressful I Suppose

"Told by my doctor my health issues were stress related. The second opinion found my gallbladder was functioning at 3% and had that sucker removed a couple weeks later."

"What's worse is I specifically asked the first doctor about gallbladder and they assured me it couldn't be that."

-- thoselusciuoslips

"Get a Haircut?!"

"Not me but my mom. She was always exhausted, the type of exhaustion that she'd have a bath, be so tired from it, she'd sleep on the bath mat when she got out."

"Went to her doctor told her, 'oh, you're just depressed, go get a hair cut!' She did. Still exhausted. Went back to the doctor."

"Continued to tell her she's 'just' depressed, get a hobby, it's all in her head etc. Never sent her for blood work, never referred her to any specialist."

"Months later she goes back. Her doctor is on vacation. Physician reliving her doctor takes one look at her eyes and says, 'it's your liver. Get these blood tests now.'"

"Abnormal blood work and a liver biopsy later, she was told she had autoimmune hepatitis and was 3 months from death."

"After she improved with medications, she went back to the original doctor and said, 'I didn't need a haircut.'"

"27 years later she still suffers from lingering effects."

-- positivegal1

Our Puritan Roots at Play 

"Patient. When I was in college I went to the doctor because I was pissing razors. It progressed pretty rapidly and by the end of the week I couldn't walk or sleep."

"The doc asked me about my sex life and I told him the truth that my girlfriend and I had only been with each other and together for many years. He sorta scoffed at that and told me it was likely chlamydia."

"Had a long condescending speech about safe sex with me and sent me home."

"A week later my piss tests were back. Turns out I had the worst bladder infection they'd ever seen. I had to have a camera shoved up my pee hole, multiple rounds of antibiotics, and to this day I struggle to pee due to irreversible damage the infection caused."

-- HomelessSock

Can't Be Undone

"Not a doctor but my sister was suffering from headaches and minor seizures for a while, went to an urgent care and that told us she had an anxiety disorder and just needed something to calm her down. we got a second opinion at the ER and turns out she had stage four brain cancer."

"i miss her everyday."

-- mynameisslade

And for others, the mistake goes the other way. They're left spooked by a devastating diagnosis. They panic, even get their affairs in order in some cases.

But the deflating moment later comes that it was never happening at all.

Salty is an Understatement 

"I was diagnosed with MS, sought out a second opinion, and turns out it was an easily solvable vitamin deficiency."

"Pretty damn different... $15K in medical bills later only go have all symptoms subside with some nutritional advice, and supplements. I'm still salty about it."

-- ediblebable

Emotional Whiplash 

"I'm a lawyer, but.... had a client given a devastating diagnosis of an extremely rare heart condition. Doctor told him he had six weeks to live. He contacted me to make his will and set his affairs in order."

"Thankfully, he sought a second opinion with an extremely well-known cardiologist (I guess the cardiologist was intrigued due to the rare nature of this heart condition)."

"THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH HIM. HE WAS FINE. This poor guy, and his family, were tortured over this, so devastated and terrified, FOR NOTHING."

"He actually called me to tell me all of this, he seemed to be still in the joyous, 'I'm not going to die' stage, but I imagine anger comes at some point, when you take stock of what you went through."

"I don't know how a doctor fu**s up that massively, or if somehow my client's results were mixed up with someone else's, and some poor bastard's number is almost up and they don't even know it."

-- Domdaisy

"Pregnant. Wait, no, dying."

"When I was 13 I went to this doctors office for a physical for volleyball and the doctor tried to tell me I was pregnant. She left the room and then 5 minutes later comes in and tries to tell me I'm dying."

"The next day I went to my dads doctor and he tells me I just have an irregular heart beat but I'm perfectly fine, and not y'know ... dying."

-- bunbunkun22

By no means does this mean doctors can't be trusted. Of course, they're absolutely the most qualified person to diagnose the things that come along in our lives.

But it's not a bad idea to have your head on a swivel when you hear the news.

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