A second medical opinion: When to seek it and how to get it?
Here are a few reasons to seek a second medical opinion:
– The treatment plan you were asked to follow makes you nervous or uneasy.
– Your doctor is not able to determine the problem or if you do not agree with his diagnosis.
– You noticed no improvement in your state.
– You have been diagnosed of a possibly lethal illness.
Talk to your doctor, first.
Before you seek a second opinion, make sure that you and your doctor are on the same page. This would allow you to avoid misunderstandings and help you understand how your doctor reached his conclusion.
After having a diagnosis, ask your doctor the following questions:
– Why this diagnosis in particular?
– Have you ruled out other diagnoses? And why?
– Are the tests you’ve performed likely to yield false positive results?
– Can you point out the elements of my tests that made you reach your conclusion?
If you’re worried about a method of treatment, ask yourself the following questions:
– Why go for this treatment in particular?
– What are the risks associated to each of the treatments?
– What are the advantages of all the treatments?
– What toll will every option have on my quality of life?
If seeking a second opinion seems desirable to you, tell your doctor that you understand his diagnosis or his recommendations but that you needed time to consider the matter.
You must not feel like you are betraying your doctor if you seek a second opinion. If you feel uncomfortable with the thought of speaking with him, you can decide to seek another opinion without discussing the matter. You must however give the second doctor a copy of your medical history.
If you have already seen a specialist but still desire to see another, you may seek the recommendation of your family doctor.