How do you know if a second medical opinion is justified?

Good piece on reasons and considerations in seeking a second opinion, with a case study on how one doctor helps his patient go through the process. Highlights of the piece below:

You might consider a second opinion:

  • If you do not trust (for whatever reason) the first opinion you received
  • If you have questions about the diagnosis or the recommended treatment that the physician could not answer clearly
  • If the treatment involves risk, is invasive or is of long duration or is very expensive and you have misgivings about proceeding
  • If you have time, i.e. your condition is not an immediate threat to your health or function
  • If your condition is rare

Before you seek another opinion, ask yourself the following?

  • Is delaying a diagnosis or treatment harming my health?
  • Have you received two opinions from well qualified physicians that are in agreement or near agreement, but still do not like the advice that you are receiving? What are you waiting/hoping to hear?
  • Is your family in agreement with the doctor? Does it make sense to them?
  • Have you independently researched your problem online to determine if other treatments exist and examined what other patients with the same diagnosis have experienced? Have you shared your reading with the consultants?
  • Is there a center of excellence for your problem worth traveling to and what does your local expert think about that?

In my case, it was largely to confirm whether the proposed course of treatment was appropriate for my situation (peace of mind). Should the second opinion have been different, of course, my ‘peace of mind’ would no longer exist, with yet another decision to take. Fortunately that was not the case.

How do you know if a second medical opinion is justified?.


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