- 1. What is a Medical Second Opinion?
- 2. Benefits of a Medical Second Opinion
- 3. How to get a Medical Second Opinion?
- 4. Final Words
It is common to feel confused for a person when he or she faces a new medical diagnosis. Most often, it is not easy to make an informed decision while navigating the healthcare system. The problem becomes even bigger when the patient has to choose between several medical treatment options.
Therefore, it is essential to get a second opinion from a professional or an expert regarding your medical condition. Second opinions are of great importance when a patient faces a life-changing or life-threatening health condition.
Most people do not get a second opinion because they think it will offend their local doctor. Experts believe that diagnoses can affect patients in various ways, and it is not easy for a doctor to know about all available treatment options.
Some doctors reach out to colleagues for advice on their patients. It happens when a doctor’s colleague has more experience in dealing with a particular disease. Research shows that the field is evolving, and new treatment options are appearing very rapidly.
A doctor’s experience in complex situations matters a lot because not all health professionals have such experience. In today’s article, we will talk about the importance of second opinions and how they can benefit patients. Read on!
What is a Medical Second Opinion?
A second opinion is a decision-based support tool used by health professionals to ratify or modify a suggested treatment. It has a critical influence on a person’s medical condition diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.
Studies show that patients seek a second opinion to avoid unnecessary risks and optimize treatments. Likewise, it is also a beneficial tool for health professionals, enabling them to have less exposure to patients’ legal claims.
A second medical opinion is beneficial for those suffering from critical health conditions, such as diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer. It is important to seek a second opinion when you are not getting well or if the prognosis is poor.
Benefits of a Medical Second Opinion
A medical second opinion is an important tool for health professionals to seek help from their colleagues if their patients are not getting well. It is also a great way for patients to get help from another physician if their current treatment plan does not produce positive results.
Whether a patient faces a diagnosis of a rare health condition, an invasive treatment plan, or a complex surgery, experts recommend getting a second opinion. The reason is that the current treatment plan may not work for them.
If you are not sure about your treatment, you can consider a second opinion from another health professional. After all, the goal is to have a correct diagnosis and accurate treatment plan to reduce symptoms and cure a particular health condition.
A New Treatment Plan
A medical second opinion becomes necessary for patients if they have undergone treatments, but their symptoms continue. A patient knows his or her body better than anyone else. If your symptoms persist after the treatment, it is time to seek another specialist’s useful advice.
Most often, patients ignore advocating for themselves and assume that they will get better with the doctor’s current medication. Likewise, some patients give up on their condition and continue living with uncomfortable feelings and chronic pain.
Everyone knows Tiger Woods, a professional golfer who has won many international tournaments. Woods have undergone various spine surgeries between 2014 and 2013 because he had severe back pain due to a pinched nerve.
That’s why he underwent two microdiscectomy surgeries in 2014 and 2015. Although his condition was improved, the problem occurred again, which caused him to withdraw from several major tournaments.
Therefore, he consulted with Dr. Richard Guyer, another neurosurgeon, who advised him to undergo a minimally invasive ALIF surgery. The surgery required the surgeon to make a small incision in the abdomen to remove the damaged disc and replace it with a bone graft material.
Tiger Woods’s ALIF surgery was a success, which made him return to the 2019’s Masters Tournament and win it. When your current treatment plan does not work, it is always better to seek a second medical opinion.
Accurate Diagnosis of a Rare Disease
Experts recommend getting a second medical opinion if you are suffering from a rare disease. Sometimes, health conditions are rare, and there is little research behind them. Such a situation can be dreadful and frustrating for patients when they find out they have been diagnosed with a rare disease.
Remember, you are not alone because research shows that over 30 million people in the U.S have been diagnosed with extremely rare health conditions. Studies show that there are approximately 7,000 known rare conditions.
Because there is less information or research on rare diseases, it is always best to seek a second medical opinion. Otherwise, the risk of misdiagnosis can complicate the problem. Experts recommend looking for a health professional who has previously treated that particular disorder. It ensures you are getting the optimal treatment for your disease.
Avoid Treatment Risks
If your current treatment is risky, it is crucial to get a second medical opinion. Sometimes, your treatment involves open or minimally invasive surgery, and incorrect surgery can lead to severe consequences. It is not a good idea to agree to surgery without exploring other useful options.
For instance, if you have back pain, you can treat it with conservative treatment options, such as physical therapy, NSAIDs, opioids, and MLS laser therapy. You can go for the surgery as a last resort when other treatment options are not working.
Most patients think that if a health professional suggests a surgery, they have to go for it. However, it is best to explore your options and make an informed decision. That’s why getting a second medical opinion is a good idea if your health provider is recommending something that can lead to lifelong consequences. You have to stay proactive and gather necessary information before undergoing a particular treatment like surgery.
Better Treatment for Life-Threatening Disorders
Neurological disorders, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, coronary heart conditions, and cancer are life-threatening disorders. A person with any of these conditions would want to get a proper treatment plan to live an easy and comfortable life.
For instance, if you have been diagnosed with cancer or AIDS, it is better to get a second medical opinion. Cancer is a serious health condition that requires careful diagnosis and treatment. That’s why input from another specialist makes sense.
A cancer diagnosis is confusing and overwhelming. At the same time, it is a life-changing event for a patient. Therefore, it is essential to get as much information as you can to know the treatment options.
Remember, no health professional is completely informed about discoveries, results, and findings from every research study. Health professionals are human beings, which means they can commit mistakes.
Therefore, you have to advocate for yourself, do your research, and find information about your life-threatening condition like cancer. There is nothing wrong is getting additional information or opinions. In fact, seeking a medical second opinion helps explore the best treatment option for your life-threatening condition.
Gather More Information
Getting a second opinion is synonymous with collecting more information on your disease, diagnosis, and treatment. Experts suggest getting a second opinion if you are unsure about your current treatment.
If you are uncomfortable with the diagnosis or suggest treatment plans, get a second opinion. Do not agree to a treatment plan or procedure when your gut says something is wrong.
That’s why you should trust your gut and make efforts to gather more information. After all, it is all about your body and your health. For instance, whenever you get a prescription, ask questions about it. Talk to your family members, ask a friend, consult a new doctor, and read about your disease.
You should not blindly follow your doctor’s advice. Otherwise, you will likely face problems, which is not good for your health and financial status. You will end up spending more money on treating the side effects of the initial treatment.
Reassurance on Treatment Plans
It is crucial to consider a second opinion for high-risk treatment options, leading to lifelong consequences. It is wise to discuss all available options with multiple doctors before you undergo a particular treatment in such a situation.
For example, a second medical opinion is necessary when your health provider suggests a minimally invasive surgery. You can treat your spinal condition with conservative treatment options like medicines and physical therapy without undergoing surgery.
Sometimes, lifestyle changes help people cure their conditions, and that way, they protect themselves from high-risk surgery. A medical second opinion is likewise an excellent way for patients to get information on alternative medicine, physiotherapy, and chiropractic treatment.
If your symptoms have not improved for a long time despite regular treatment, it is wise to seek another specialist’s advice. For instance, if you have had many physiotherapy sessions, acupuncture, or chiropractic adjustments, and your symptoms are not improving, it is time to move on and talk to another health professional.
How to get a Medical Second Opinion?
Although we have mentioned a wide range of benefits of second medical opinions, it does not mean you offend your current health provider. A second medical opinion is a good thing, but a person must not make it a habit. Otherwise, you can put yourself in a labyrinth with no way out.
Health professionals often consult each other for opinions and recommendations. It is good to gain insights from a specialist in their field. Starting the process requires you to have all the necessary information, including medical reports related to your disease.
The second health provider will then review your medical reports and provide his or her own recommendations. You won’t need to undergo another physical exam if a highly experienced and qualified health professional conducts the second opinion.
However, you may be asked to undergo additional tests in some cases. Most often, you will pay to get a second opinion or advice. It is wise to check with your insurance provider to know if they cover second medical opinions.
Getting a medical second opinion is an essential part of understanding your health condition diagnosis and treatment options. It provides you with an opportunity to find a reliable doctor who will pay attention to your needs, and you will feel comfortable with him.