When faced with a serious diagnosis, or a recommendation to undergo surgery, it makes sense to seek confirmation from another doctor. Reasons to get a second medical opinion include gaining details about available treatments.
Second opinions can also offer peace of mind by confirming the original diagnosis. Where treatment has serious potential consequences, a second opinion can catch a mistake. This prevents harm to patients and saves time to devote to treatments that will work.
Don’t Be Concerned About Offending Your Doctor
Most medical professionals are happy to support a patient’s decision to seek a second opinion. They may recommend a specialist with a deeper knowledge of the condition they have diagnosed.
Second opinions can enhance the medical response. The doctor providing the second opinion may be more up-to-date on ways to address the condition, or may find a different condition exists. Either way, both the original doctor and the patient benefit by learning more about what is causing physical distress.
Access To More Advanced Testing and Treatment
Some medical practices don’t have the means to deliver the most advanced forms of testing, including those on the brink of scale-up and manufacture. They may also have access to clinical trials that offer some hope to late-stage cancer patients.
Medical Errors Are More Common Than You Think
A 2017 Mayo Clinic study involving 286 patients found that 66% of those seeking a second opinion got a refined diagnosis, while 21% got a completely new, different diagnosis. Only 12% of patients received confirmation that the original diagnosis was correct.
Your Doctor Isn’t Listening To You
Feeling as if you aren’t being “heard” by your doctor is a top reason to get a second medical opinion. If your doctor interrupts you, or is so rushed that you don’t get to complete your questions, a second opinion can help you communicate your concerns and get additional information.
You Don’t Know Which Treatment To Choose
Some conditions put the patient in the position of selecting between surgery or drug treatment, or no treatment at all. If you’re confused about which treatment option to choose, a second opinion can focus your choices, and possibly provide additional suggested treatments.
Your Current Treatment Isn’t Working
If you’re pursuing a course of treatment recommended by your doctor, but you’re not getting better, seek a second opinion. You don’t have to settle for persistent symptoms. Being your own advocate is a patient’s best course when treatment isn’t helpful. Seek a second, or even third, opinion until a doctor says something that makes sense to you and explains the cause of your symptoms clearly.
Health insurance may or may not cover a second opinion. With a rare or life-threatening diagnosis, however, many insurers recognize the value of a second opinion. The correct diagnosis saves time and money; it also offers the possibility of getting the right treatment to the patient quickly, with a better possible better.