When do I need a second doctor’s opinion?


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A good doctor can also make a wrong diagnosis. This usually happens when the patient has not been fully examined or if the patient is not told the details pertaining the illness. For clarification about the nature of the disease and to take the right treatment, it is necessary that you seek the opinion of a second doctor.

What is a “second opinion”?

Seeking a second opinion is when you ask another doctor who has the same speciality to give opinion about whatever you are suffering from. This is a normal practise because people make mistakes at times, especially in such a complex sphere. Another specialist will not only examine the condition from another angle but they can also prescribe additional treatments if there is need.

In most cases, the diagnosis of the first doctor is correct but there are cases where another doctor will note things that the first doctor overlooked.

It may also not be necessary to go to the hospital to seek another opinion from the second doctor. The consultation can be done online by sending the second doctor your previous available examination results. This is applicable if you live far away from the hospital that has specialists who will make the correct diagnosis and prescribe the right treatment.

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When should I use a doctor’s second opinion?

There are several reason that may require you to seek the opinion of a second doctor, some of them being:

  • Following the recommendations of your first doctor, but your health does not get better.
  • You need to undergo an operation, but you want to avoid it and are looking for other, less radical ways to treat the disease.
  • You have been prescribed for expensive medicines, and you want to clarify their appropriateness.
  • You suspect a rare serious disease.
  • The doctor prescribed you medicines without proven effectiveness.
  • You don’t understand the recommendations or don’t trust your doctor.
  • You want to clarify the validity of the diagnosis and treatment.

There are also some situations where the second opinion of a doctor is unnecessary. These include in acute conditions such as heart attack, stroke, acute appendicitis or internal bleeding. In these diagnoses, every hour counts and medical attention should be provided as soon as possible. A second specialist should only be seen during recovery and rehabilitation.

Medical examinations that may come in handy

The results of the previous examinations will save time and assist the second doctor to quickly prove the diagnosis. Ensure that you give the second doctor the following:

  • Examinations of the disease you have. These can be tests, ultrasounds, MRI scans and medical examination results.
  • Discharge letter from the hospital if you have had surgery.
  • Your first doctor’s opinion: information about the diagnosis, treatment plan and prescribed drugs.
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If you have gone through many tests and examinations before, it recommended that you carry all the documents with you. Even test results that may not be related to the disease can help if the cause of the disease is misidentified.

Moreover, if you have other underlying conditions, ensure that you carry all the examination results and discharge documents. At first glance the diseases you have may not be related but they may have common causes. This will also assist in prescribing the right medicine for each disease so that they work together simultaneously.

What if the second opinion does not coincide with the first one?

The difference in opinion is perfectly normal and in some cases, both doctors may in fact be wrong. You can do the following if possible:

  • Visit your first doctor and talk to him about the result of the second check-up.
  • Ask both doctors why they made their conclusions and what they saw in the test results.
  • Try to arrange a meeting with your doctors – in person or on the Internet – so that they together look and discuss your tests and the treatments they prescribed.
  • See a third doctor. It may be a more experienced representative of the same specialization or a doctor from a narrower field.
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In long run, a second opinion is always useful in getting a more accurate and correct conclusion. After that, you will decide which of the doctors’ instruction you should move forward with. Do not fear offending any one of the specialists. Always remember that a good doctor admits their mistakes and approves the instructions from another specialist. You health is the most important thing.


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Cornelius A.

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