(HealthDay News) — One-fifth of patients who sought a second opinion recently at a single academic medical center had received a different diagnosis from their primary care providers, according to a study published online in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.

Monica Van Such, MBA, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study at a single academic medical center using a sample of 286 patients referred by physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and physicians from primary care practices during 2009 and 2010.

The researchers found that 12% of the 286 patients who sought a second opinion received the same diagnosis both times, while 66% received better defined/refined diagnoses when they sought a second opinion and 21% received final diagnoses that were distinctly different from referral diagnoses.

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“Referrals to advanced specialty care for undifferentiated problems are an essential component of patient care,” the authors write. “Without adequate resources to handle undifferentiated diagnoses, a potential unintended consequence is misdiagnoses resulting in treatment delays and complications leading to more costly treatments.”

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  1. Van Such M, Lohr R, Beckman T, Naessens JM. Extent of diagnostic agreement among medical referrals. J Eval Clin Pract. 4 April 2017. doi: 10.1111/jep.12747