What is a Medical Second Opinion?
A second opinion in medicine is the opinion of a doctor other than the patient’s current primary doctor. The doctor giving a second opinion reviews the patient’s medical records, laboratory tests, and prescriptions and then shares an opinion about the patient’s health problem and how it can be treated.
Often the patient or their caregivers often seek the expert counsel of a specialist who may have more clinical experience regarding the diagnosis, treatment options or even considering if there is a possibility for a differential diagnosis i.e. given the patient complaints, clinical examination and lab results, could it be something else?
Is it Worth getting a Medical Second Opinion?
It is certainly worth getting a second opinion as it clears any doubts you have regarding your diagnosis or treatment regimen. This is especially important when you are getting a long-term and costly drug treatment or chemotherapy.
You need to make sure you have reached the right diagnosis and accurate treatment plan before you proceed. Also, it is worth seeking a second opinion before undergoing a serious surgery and helps you clarify if it’s worth taking this big risk or not.
What Situations Demand a Second Medical Opinion?
When you are undergoing a long-term and aggressive treatment or a risky surgical procedure
When the diagnosis is not clear, or you’re not satisfied with the diagnosis
If you are preparing to participate in the trial of a new drug
What are the Best Medical Advice Websites?
Some of the best websites to seek medical advice are listed below. You need to set up an account on these websites, and you can communicate with a physician through a webcam or submit a written question.
You will have to set up an account, complete a registration process and wait for an official communication from their medical case manager to assess your eligibility for an expert case review. (especially if you are considering medical insurance reimbursement). Should your case require a physical follow up you may have to arrange for an international medical travel visa, accomodation and other expenses.
Most tertiary-level medical institutions in the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and many hospitals in the Middle East have a separate department to assess remote second opinions for overseas patients.
How Do You Ask for a Second Opinion?
- Convey to your doctor politely that you want to be fully informed about the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment options for your disease, so you would like to get a second opinion.
- Ask your doctor to recommend someone else.
- If you have a doctor in mind, you can ask for a referral politely.
Is it Rude to Get a Second Opinion?
Some patients think that asking for a second opinion is regarded as a loss of trust or confidence in your physician. But that is not true.
A patient can politely ask for a second opinion if he requires one. In fact, it is a patient’s right to seek a second opinion, and doctors shouldn’t be offended when a patient asks for one.
In most cases, getting a specialist consult, even by a remote second opinion process, can convince patients to adhere to a treatment plan and complete the necessary procedure.
Why should Patients with Chronic Diseases get a Second Medical Opinion?
When a patient receives bad news, especially for a potentially deadly disease or for a treatment which may require urgent expensive surgery and/or drug treatments, they are very enthusiastic to consider an alternative diagnosis or management plan.
Nowadays due to our stressful urban lifestyles, we are more at risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, mental health issues and certain cancers.
These illnesses emerge very slowly, and are often diagnosed late due to their slow progression, poor public health education, late diagnostic processes and even failure to notice the subtle signs before an adverse health event such as a stroke, heart attacks or other symptoms.
These long term illnesses also require professional consultations and expert medical second opinions, in order to not only assure the patient of a correct diagnosis but also to help educate and guide them to the best treatment plans to manage health risks; in order to lead a quality life.
Other reasons for patients with chronic diseases to seek expert second opinions are as follows:
Provide reassurance and detailed information about your disease:
A second opinion may help you provide detailed information about your diagnosis and your treatment plan, making you a more informed patient about your disease. Moreover, it can give you a greater peace of mind. Even if the second opinion goes in accordance with your treating physician’s diagnosis and recommendation, it surely provides an assurance to you and your family that you have the correct diagnosis and are getting the proper treatment.
Validates a diagnosis:
A second opinion helps validate and confirm your diagnosis. Though the diagnosis is accurate most of the time, it may be worth getting a second opinion if you are suffering from a serious medical condition.
Gives you a range of treatment options:
Since the medical field is a field of advancement and new research, going for a second opinion may provide you with a range of treatment options that your treating physician may not be aware of. Moreover, if your doctor has advised you of a surgical intervention, a second opinion may be useful for weighing the risk of this treatment versus its potential benefits.
What are YOUR Next Best Steps to Getting an Expert Second Opinion?
We have briefly touched upon the value of a professionally guided approach to managing a difficult patient diagnosis. It is the mature responsibility of the patient, or their caregivers, to seek the right educational content and proceed with the next best steps.
Every patient is unique.
Every disease requires a customised approach.
Every treatment has an alternative.
Thanks to democratised internet technology, we are more connected to each other and are more able to seek credible (and certified) expert care for our loved ones.
If you are confident to help manage your health needs for the next step in healing, or atleast help your family lead a comfortable functional life, connect with our network of highly trained and dedicated healthcare specialists.
Here at VIOS, we are committed to providing a personalised and practical guidance for our global patient community, with decades of industry standard clinical training, within your reach.