Second opinion: when it is recommended to ask for a second medical opinion and how to ask for it - advice and tips for patients

second opinion

When it comes to the goods that we want to buy for home and family, we make an analysis to make an informed decision. The same approach is recommended when it comes to our or our loved ones health.

In order to get the best results for our health it is important to establish a relationship based on trust with the doctor and to know that we have the right to ask for more advice and to inform us about the affliction we suffer.

When discussing diagnosis, the relationship between patients' rights and freedoms in relation to a physician may give rise to an imbalance: too little decision-making triggers frustration on the part of the patient, who believes he has to follow the doctor's advice regardless of circumstances, while too much freedom can create uncertainty about decisions about proper diagnosis and treatment.

Second opinion: why is it important?

The patient has the right and the freedom to ask for the second medical opinion to ensure that they make the best decision for proper diagnosis and effective treatment of the disease. At the same time, because medical practice can reduce unnecessary risks and costs.

There are cases where, due to the unusual nature of the symptoms or the complexity of the condition, the doctor will recommend a second opinion. Sometimes the patient will ask for one.

The second opinion could lead to faster access to treatments that could save lives or stop unnecessary treatments and reduce stress in the extended family of a patient when we find out that the new diagnosis has no direct genetic implications.

In one study, researchers reported that up to 88% of patients requiring a second medical opinion return home with a new or refined diagnosis - changing the treatment plan and, ultimately, life. On the contrary, only 12% receive confirmation that the original diagnosis was complete and correct.

In what situations is a second medical opinion recommended?

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Why do patients require a second opinion?

Not all patients requesting a second opinion believe their diagnosis is wrong, and this decision does not imply disapproval to the treatment recommended by specialists.

The main motivations of patients when looking for a second medical opinion are related to the need for certainty, lack of trust, discontent with communication and / or the need for more personalized information.

Most patients who are seeking a second medical opinion do so because they are not satisfied with the information they receive from their doctor regarding the condition they suffer.

Patients may also have some dissatisfaction with the way they were told about both the diagnosis and the treatment recommendations. Patients are looking to better understand the situation they are in by asking for a second opinion, hoping to find a doctor with whom they can establish a better relationship and communicate more effectively.

How to ask for a second opinion - advice for patients

  1. The story of each patient differs on a case-by-case basis, however there are some general tips for patients seeking a second opinion. Tell the doctor the intention to request a second medical opinion. This is essential to succeed in maintaining a long-term relationship with your personal physician and to make sure you receive from him all the necessary information about your medical situation so you can pass it on to your new physician so that he can draw the best conclusions.
  2. Find out what your reason for asking for a second medical opinion is. Do you want to change your doctor, or be sure that the recommended treatment is effective?
  3. At the appointment with your new physician, be open about the personal reasons for requesting your second opinion. This attitude will be able to focus the entire attention of the specialist on the issue that worries you the most. You can benefit from extra information only by clearly specifying your discontent with the first diagnosis or treatment.
  4. The second opinion implies new financial and time-consuming efforts, especially when it comes to visiting medical centers in other cities or even outside the country. In some cases, you may feel compelled to respect the decision of the specialist, given that you have made an extra effort to get it. The second medical opinion is not always the best and therefore it is necessary to analyze clearly both the first and the second opinions in order to make the best decision for the situation you are in.
  5. Self-diagnosis based on research on the Internet should not have the least say when it comes to choosing the right treatment. Medical specialists are not the ones who write blogs or promote their patented products online.

Diagnosis involves both education in the field and professional training based on experience and good judgment. It is recommended that you always follow the specialist's opinion and use trustworthy services to benefit from the best diagnostic and treatment methods.

MRI / CT / Radiology Second Medical Opinion