You love your doctor, but you’re not sure that their diagnosis is the correct one. Whether the health issue is serious, and you want to confirm what your doctor has said, or you are looking for an accurate diagnosis, asking for a medical second opinion is sometimes complicated.
Some doctors take the pursuit of a second opinion personally. It can even ruin your doctor-patient relationship.
If you are thinking about getting a second opinion, here are some ideas to follow.
1. Ask your doctor if a second opinion makes sense.
Most doctors will look at the benefits of a second opinion and how it will help you. It is a chance for a specialist to confirm their advice or diagnosis. From a practical standpoint, that reduces the liability they face if they’re wrong, while also reinforcing their expertise with you. Don’t tell your first-opinion doctor that you want to get another perspective. Ask if pursuing one makes sense.
2. Be honest about your situation.
Doctors can feel insecure, just like everyone else. It is essential to remember that the end goal is better health for you. If you receive a devastating diagnosis, having it confirmed by someone else makes sense. Even if the only reason why you want someone else to take a look is to give you peace of mind, let your doctor know this. That will make it look less like you’re questioning their skills, advice, or expertise.
3. Ask for recommendations outside of your medical network.
With the invention of electronic health records, every doctor in your medical network will have access to your information. That includes the diagnosis provided by your first-opinion doctor. You must step outside of this network to receive a valid second opinion. Ask your family, friends, and other trusted associated about who they’d visit. You can also use doctor-rating services or specialist tools, which are provided by most health insurance agencies.
4. Be willing to move on.
If your doctor objects to the idea that you’re pursuing a second opinion, ask them why they are defensive. That way, no stone will be left unturned when you do visit with another doctor. Some insurers may require you to receive a referral from your primary doctor before covering the second opinion. If your doctor is unwilling to provide this, then that is not a good sign. You must be winning to move on to another doctor if you receive resistance.
5. The process doesn’t stop after you get a second opinion.
Should the second opinion differ from what the first doctor diagnosed, there can be an ego hit which occurs. You may find that the relationship you had with your doctor changes. Some doctors may even behave differently in an attempt to force you into a switch. Here is another opportunity to remember that it is your health, not their pride, that matters.
Most of the time, a second opinion confirms the first diagnosis. They’ll even confirm the original treatment plan offered. There are times, however, when that does not happen, which is also essential to know.