Though most doctors’ visits are routine, they sometimes uncover a serious sign—a spot on an X-ray, for instance, or an abnormal result from a blood test—that may have a variety of causes and treatments.
Your doctor, of course, will thoroughly discuss his or her findings and recommend a course of action. But when your diagnosis is complex and you want to make a well-informed decision on how to proceed, getting a second opinion from another doctor can be a wise move.
Don’t worry about upsetting your physician. On the contrary, he or she should welcome your decision and will probably help you find a qualified referral. That’s because doctors often benefit from one another’s medical knowledge—making for better patient care.
When should you consider getting a second opinion?
- when your health insurance requires it
- if you’re told you only have one option (for example, surgery) or if you must choose one of several options
- in cases of a very rare disorder
- if you’re told that nothing more can be done for you
- in cases where experimental treatment may help (but never to replace conventional care if it’s still available)
Also, experts suggest these helpful hints:
- Seek a second opinion from a doctor who’s not in the same medical practice as your primary doctor.
- Research your condition in peer-reviewed journals at the library or at government or hospital-based Internet sites before the consultation.
- Prepare a list of questions based on your research to get the most from your consultation.