Second Opinions

A second opinion is when a doctor (other than your primary one) reviews your medical chart and test results to give you a diagnosis and treatment recommendation. A second doctor’s opinion may turn out to be the same as your primary or it may suggest a different approach and/or recommendation. Here are a few reasons why you should consider seeking a second opinion before making any treatment plan decisions:

  • Feel Empowered and Take Control
    By seeking a second opinion, you will naturally become more informed about all of your available treatment options and have a better sense of possible side effects of each. Many patients say that learning more about their condition and treatment helps them feel more in control of their health and understanding the options available for their care.
  • Confidence and Peace of Mind
    A second opinion can help you feel more comfortable that you are choosing the right treatment plan. If both doctors agree on a course of treatment, you will feel extra confident in your plan.
  • You Have Been Told There are No Options
    If one doctor has said that your condition will not likely respond to treatment, or your choices are extremely limited, another doctor might be familiar with additional options unknown to the first and explore them with you. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by seeking a second opinion.
  • Find a Doctor You Really Like
    Most doctors understand that patients have the right to a second opinion and often encourage it. You are under no obligation to be treated by the first doctor you see if you feel that another doctor better meets your needs. When meeting with a new doctor, pay attention to the nurses, office staff, and environment to make sure that you choose the best team for your treatment.
  • Discover Alternate Treatment Options
    Not all hospitals and doctors have access to the same treatment options. A second opinion could lead you to a more advanced treatment or to one more tailored to your individual needs.

Some patients may be concerned that the doctor will be offended if you decide to seek a second opinion, however, most doctors understand and will encourage you to do so to feel comfortable and assured before starting treatment. If a doctor is insulted by your choice to get another opinion or pressures you in any way, they may not be the best choice to engage with in the future. Additional emotional stress between doctors and patients has been shown to keep patients from healing as fast as they could otherwise.

Honesty is important in your doctor/patient relationship, so it is a good idea to keep your doctor informed of your final choices of how to move forward with care. For additional tips, check out our publication Maintaining Effective Communication with Your Provider or print our Communication Log to track phone calls or interactions with your provider.

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