Getting a Second Opinion about a Miscarriage Diagnosis
Do You Need A Second Opinion?
"Something as serious as a miscarriage
would never be misdiagnosed, right?"
This is a question I have heard time and again from women who are wondering if they could be misdiagnosed. In fact, until recently, just about every site dedicated to miscarriage and pregnancy topics online denied that miscarriages were ever misdiagnosed.
Yes, miscarriages are misdiagnosedand they are not as rare as once thought. Second opinions have saved a number of babies now. Want to know more?
I believe every woman deserves to have no doubt before having her pregnancy ended
I am not a medical professional. The information I share is meant to supplement the information given you by your doctor. If you feel your doctor is not doing enough for you or not willing to listen to your concerns, I strongly encourage you to take what you've learned here and get a second opinion.
Have you ever been misdiagnosed?
Have you ever been misdiagnosed with any condition?
Why Get a Second Opinion?
Several years ago, CNN reported that according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, doctors are wrong 10% to 15% of the time. That should concern everybody.
Oftentimes a miscarriage is a miscarriage. However, if you do not feel certain or are not showing signs of miscarrying, this page is for you
Before I go on, let me state, I admire physicians greatly. I have the utmost respect for the jobs they do and the lives they save. That said, though, most physicians do have to see a good number of patients on a daily basis. As a result, you may not get the time you need with your physician and they may be a bit more apt, at times, to rush a diagnosis.
With my first miscarriage scare, everybody seemed to believe I was miscarrying. Who could blame them? I was bleeding heavily at 12 weeks. The nurse and doctor at the ER, who were wonderful by the way, prepared me to miscarry. When women bleed during the first trimester, most people assume miscarriage and rightly so since bleeding is a major symptom in miscarriages. However, what most people seem to forget is that up to 1/3 of all women bleed during pregnancy.
We have discovered on the Misdiagnosed Miscarriage site that many women, after being given a diagnosis of miscarriage, feel rushed to end their pregnancies. Before many of them are even comfortable with the diagnosis, doctors are pushing them to take Misoprostol or have surgery. A number of women have also expressed concern that their doctors do not really listen to or downplay their concerns. For this reason, unless there is an immediate need to end an pregnancy (i.e. ectopic or molar pregnancy or signs of infection appearing), a second opinion is a viable option and has saved many babies.
Second opinions are an acceptable route in the medical community. Not only can another physician verify the diagnosis, the second opinion can reassure you that you are not acting hastily in ending your pregnancy if you are indeed going to miscarry. Often, women have found the second doctor is more willing to take a wait-and-see approach.
If you feel your physician is scaring you with what can happen if you wait (and, yes, some physicians do do this), keep in mind what the American Pregnancy Association says:
"This is a decision only you can make for yourself. Most doctors do not recommend a D&C for an early pregnancy loss. It is believed that a woman's body is capable of passing tissue on its own and there is no need for an invasive surgical procedure with a risk of complications. A D&C would, however, be beneficial if you were planning on having a pathologist examine the tissues to determine a reason for the miscarriage. Some women feel a D&C procedure helps with closure, mentally and physically"
We have had some women get second, third and even fourth opinions before discovering they were misdiagnosed. Unless there is some complication (i.e. suspected ectopic or molar pregnancy, infection, etc...), many women do choose to wait out the diagnosis. While waiting does not increase the chance of being misdiagnosed, waiting does allow you to know with all certainty this is a miscarriage before ending the pregnancy. Over the last few years, I have noticed that women who are rushed into ending their pregnancies right away often struggle with more grief and more doubt later. Women whose doctors allowed them to take a wait-and-see approach, often seem to cope and heal more quickly from their miscarriages. And, of course, we have the women who have ended up being misdiagnosed.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, doctors are wrong 10% to 15% of the time.
Steps to Getting a Second Opinion
- - - Contact your health insurance provider.
You'll want to find out if they will cover a visit to another physician. Also, they may be able to recommend another physician for you to see.
- - - Ask family, friends and co-workers for recommendations.
You may know somebody who has a physician they really like and trust. You do not have to divulge why you are looking for a new doctor. Just let the person know, you'd like to find a new physician.
- - - Check out ACOG's Physician Database
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. has an online physician directory.
- - - Ask your physician for a referral to another physician
This option is not always as popular. Sometimes women feel they'll get the same diagnosis if the two physicians work together in any way. Some women have gotten good results, though, just seeing another physician in the same office.
Have you ever gotten a second opinion on a diagnosis?
If so, how did you find your second doctor?
When Seeing Another Doctor
what do you share?
Many women want to know how much they should tell the second doctor. Here are what women have shared with me:
- Some women do not tell the second physician about their diagnosis. They want a fresh, non-biased perspective.
- Some women bring a copy or have results from various tests (i.e. hCG levels, ultrasounds, etc...) sent to the second physician. In many cases, the diagnosis will be made known as well.
- Some women just choose to explain to the doctor the first diagnosis and why they feel they need a second opinion.
The information you provide is up to you. Just listening to women, often the third choice seems to be best. When the second physician hears that somebody felt rushed or didn't have their concerns heard, they seem to be more open to listening.
The best thing you can can prepare for any appointment is to write down ahead of time your list of concerns and questions. Often, we may forget something we wanted to say and ask our doctor about. Having a prepared list will help you get the answers you need.
Some Amazing Stories
We have collected a number of stories of misdiagnosed miscarriages. Here are just a few of the stories on The Misdiagnosed Miscarriage from women who got second or third opinions before finding their babies:
Aelich's story - At seven and a half weeks, Aelich was able to see her baby with a beating heart via the transvaginal ultrasound. She began seeing another doctor and, at eleven weeks, they could not find the baby on the ultrasound and was told she had most likely reabsorbed the baby and they should do a D&C to remove any remaining tissue. Rather than have the D&C, she contacted her first doctor and a trained ultrasound technician found the baby with a beating heart almost right away.
Liv's Story- At eight weeks LMP (last menstrual period), Liv went to the ER due to cramping where she was diagnosed with a blighted ovum and told she should have a D&C. After waiting several weeks for a natural miscarriage, Liv decided to get a second opinion. They were amazed to see a baby with a beating heart.
Becca's Story - At seven and nine weeks, Becca turned down the D&C procedure with her first doctor. At ten and a half weeks, her second-opinion doctor found her baby with a wonderfully beating heart.
These are only a few of our most recent stories. While they do not mean you or somebody you know has been misdiagnosed, they do show that women should be certain they are indeed miscarrying before ending their pregnancies.
IMPORTANT: Misdiagnosed Miscarriage Warning
After eight years of trying to get misdiagnosed miscarriages in the news, we're finally seeing results. Here is an article by Time Magazine.
A snippet from that article:
As if the worry over potential miscarriage weren't stressful enough for newly pregnant women, research released Friday shows that current guidelines for using ultrasound to determine that a pregnancy has ended may not always be accurate.
The four new studies looked at U.K. ultrasound specifications, but when the findings are extrapolated to U.S. guidelines, the researchers suggest 1 in 23 women diagnosed with miscarriage could still have a viable pregnancy.
On the Misdiagnosed Miscarriage site, we believe that that figure might be much higher. For women diagnosed with a blighted ovum, something like one in five may be much more accurate.
I believe every woman deserves to have no doubt before having her pregnancy ended.
Important New Guidelines for Diagnosing a Miscarriage
The UK is the first to acknowledge that misdiagnosed miscarriages are indeed a problem. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has revised its guidelines. If your gestational sac is more than 25mm and/or the CRL is 7mm or more, you should wait a week to verify (if there are no complications). If the measurements are less, you are too early to diagnose. For more information (and something to take to your doctor), please, see my new page:
Can you think of anything that has been left out of this page? Do you have any recommendations or suggestions for getting a second opinion? Would you just like to leave a comment?
If I don't reply to you here, please feel free to e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org