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When Should I Get a Second Opinion?

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on Sep 24, 2018

Questioning the diagnosis of your doctor can be an uncomfortable situation. Many people fear they will hurt their doctors feelings or that they may receive worse care because they will be seen as "too picky."

Why Would I Seek a Second Opinion?

A second opinion could be sought for any situation, but usually a second opinion is sought when a patient is looking for different treatment options.


According to studies, seeking a second opinion can
result in a different diagnosis or a different treatment plan for your condition. A second opinion can relieve doubts that you have, help you understand your condition, and help you make an educated decision about your treatment plan. Multiple opinions can help you decide on the treatment that has the best possible outcome and that fits your lifestyle and family needs.

In a recent article by CNN, a patient was told she had a certain type of brain tumor but she sought more opinions. Through further testing, she found she did have a brain tumor, but the treatment for the type she actually had was very different from the first treatment option. Doctors from this article say there are certain situations when you should seek a second opinion.

  • when diagnosis is tricky
  • when the procedure is risky
  • when the procedure has permanent consequences
  • when there are less invasive alternatives

Other reasons for a second opinion may include

  • when a diagnosis is serious
  • when surgery is presented as a treatment option
  • when there are more treatment options available
  • when you still have unanswered questions after speaking with your doctor
  • when you are told you can receive a certain treatment
  • when you are told nothing more can be done
  • when your conditions returns or gets worse after treatment
  • when the cause is unknown
  • when you feel uncomfortable with the diagnosis or treatment plan

How Do I Get a Second Opinion?

If you have decided that you need another opinion, you can ask your doctor to recommend someone. Don't hesitate to ask even if you are uncomfortable. Most doctors encourage a second opinion or even third opinion, especially on big decisions. You could also ask another doctor you trust for a referral or call your insurance provider for a list of specialists in your area.

Before your appointment:

  • Have your records sent to the second doctor so that you don't have to repeat any tests that you have already done. Know that the new doctor may have additional test to perform too.
  • Verify that the second doctor received the records that were sent over.
  • Write down questions and concerns that you want to discuss during the appointment.
  • Ask a friend or family member to go to your appointment with you for support.

Topics: Wellness, Health Care