Although diagnostic technology like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has come a long way in the past few decades, there are still no perfect devices or techniques that come with 100 percent accuracy.
In fact, MRI scans can have a high degree of false positives, which should give any employer or safety manager pause. Rather than seeing an MRI as a first choice, it may be better to consider imaging after other pain and injury recovery strategies have been tried.
Once that’s completed and there are still medical issues with an employee, an MRI may be the best course of action. The scan could show musculo-skeletal problems that lead a physician to recommend aggressive treatment.
If that happens, should you consider getting a second opinion? Absolutely.
Sometimes, what appears on an MRI scan is a matter of interpretation. One radiologist may believe that herniated disks need to be addressed immediately, for example, while another could point out that the level of herniation is consistent with other people of the same age.
Also, false positives could come into play. A second MRI and an additional physician opinion could contradict the initial treatment advice. In a best-case scenario, that second opinion would simply confirm the first diagnosis and treatment plan, so that you and your affected employee have more confidence in the decision.
For minor injuries or simple procedures, a second opinion is usually overkill. No one is going to insist on a second doctor visit if all that’s needed is a few stitches for a cut or a cortisone injection for a rotator cuff flare-up.
But when the proposed treatment is more involved, such as spinal surgery, it’s time to talk with your employee about making sure that’s the best course of action. A second opinion can help to give both of you more information to decide how you want to proceed.