If you have been dealing with a health issue for some time and are not sure what to do next, seeking a second opinion from another doctor may be a good option for you. Getting a second opinion can help to verify your diagnosis, get more information about treatment options, and even get a fresh perspective on your illness. While getting a second opinion can be beneficial, it’s important to remember that the final decision about your care still lies with you and your doctor. Here are some tips on how to get a second opinion from a doctor.
Why Should You Consider a Second Opinion?
In the medical field, second opinions are received mostly from people who have been diagnosed with a type of cancer or other terminal illnesses. However, there is not only one reason to get second opinions, but several.
A second opinion can be given on any medical procedure you choose to undergo and usually costs nothing for the person getting second opinions. There is always value in a second opinion even if it comes from a doctor in another town or state because doctors will often see things differently and this could help lead to the right diagnosis and treatment plan.
There are actually different types of second opinions that someone would seek out. The first type of second opinion that one might receive is called an independent second opinion, which means that it’s coming from somewhere outside of the doctor’s office.
If your second opinion is coming from an outside source, it will most likely be free and you can choose where to get this second opinion. Most second opinions are not given in person due to time constraints, so they will ask for medical records if they need the information.
The second type of second opinion is called a consulting second opinion. This means that the doctor’s office has asked for another doctor’s assistance with your care or diagnosis because they know they need another set of eyes on their case or diagnosis.
This happens most often when doctors are practicing new forms of treatment that haven’t been used before or haven’t reached wide-spread use yet. A consulting second opinion doesn’t always mean that this second doctor is giving a second diagnosis, but it could be.
Second opinions are very important in the medical field and can save lives if another doctor’s opinion or treatment plan is different enough from the first doctor to make a difference.
When should you get second opinions?
This isn’t an easy question to answer because second opinions aren’t always necessary, but they’re often recommended after a person has been diagnosed with cancer. Getting second opinions allows someone who does have cancer to get confirmation that their doctors understand what type of cancer they have and how best to treat this form of cancer.
It also allows someone who has cancer to know that all of their options for treatment plans and medications were thoroughly discussed and evaluated by both doctors so there is no question about which plan is best.
When second opinions are recommended depends on the type of diagnosis a doctor makes. Every person has different insurance plans and procedures they have to go through when setting up second opinions, so it’s up to you and your doctor to decide which second opinion plan works best for you.
Usually second opinions aren’t sought out until after a person has been diagnosed with cancer or another terminal illness because doctors won’t recommend second opinions unless they’re fairly certain that they’ve made a correct diagnosis.
When second opinions are necessary, it’s most likely going to be because of a really difficult or unusual case where doctors need more help formulating a plan of treatment.
You should consider getting second opinions if:
- You’ve been diagnosed with cancer or another terminal illness
- You are considering a certain treatment plan or surgery that doctors have recommended for you
- You’ve been given second thoughts about your diagnosis because other people have told you there’s something wrong with it
- You’re not comfortable with the second opinion you’ve received from your doctor and want one from someone else instead.
- Your insurance doesn’t cover second opinions. If this is the case, consider if it would be worth it to pay out of pocket to get second opinions. It could help lead to a better diagnosis and treatment plan.
How to get a second opinion from another doctor?
👪 Ask friends and family
The best way to get a second opinion is from word of mouth referrals by family members or friends who may have experienced similar diagnosis for disease. You should be open with your family about your recent diagnosis, even a close friend may be able to recommend a reputable physician to have another look at your reports or any other clinical information.
👨⚕️ Ask another doctor for a recommendation
Perhaps you may consider talking with a doctor you know from a different profession, who may be able to recommend a peer who may have a better specialist review of your case. Often doctors are well-versed in the organisation structure of the medical profession therefore they know whom to refer to.
📱 Check out dedicated Facebook groups
There are several Facebook groups dedicated to raising awareness for discussing recent trends related to a disease. You can search for them online in the Facebook search bar, look at the number of members their activity and view the content displayed by other users.
You may review previous posts or you may directly post your question to the group for any recommendation. Be aware of online scams and false information.
❓Write a post on Quora
Quora is a useful online networking platform used by people to ask questions or answer questions related to an expertise. Without giving away too much personal information, you may ask a question to see a general overview of your diagnosis or intended treatment plan.
☎️ Contact your insurance provider
Depending on your insurance provider and your package, you may request for a medical second opinion from your insurance. Meri insurance companies have a dedicated database of specialists who may be able to provide a second opinion service.
However there may be significant delays in setting up an appointment, due to the requirements for prior authorisation. In most cases your premium plan will not cover medical second opinions. Refer back to your employer for any customer support from your insurance provider for further details.
🖥️ Use an Online Directory of Specialists
You can search online for local hospitals which provide medical second opinion services. it is important to consider that significant out of pocket cost may be incurred
📧 Contact your Healthcare Regulatory Body eg. American Medical Association
Many national regulatory bodies have a database of associations that may be able to assist you. The American Medical Association has an online doctor database whom you may be able to reach out for your second opinion needs.
🔎 Search online for expert medical second opinion providers
By doing a Google search related to your diagnosis, you may be able to directly connect with a curated database of specialists. These online platforms may provide you with a greater choice certified specialist who will be able to give you a person and expert second opinions based on their clinical experience.
These specialist platforms allow you to have direct communication with the doctor of your choice, based on their credentials. If possible you can share your health data so that you can have a real time discussion about options. Thanks to telemedicine, you can easily schedule a zoom meeting where you are at your own convenience.
What happens next?
- Create a patient profile
- Scan and upload your health records if needed
- Schedule your appointment – consider having someone with your in the zoom meeting
- Tell your doctor your clinical history including your primary diagnosis
- Discuss recent Diagnostic reports
- Ask as many questions as you can about your diagnosis and the second opinion diagnosis
- Start your treatment plan or procedure when you are confident and comfortable with your situation
What if you get a different diagnosis or treatment plan from your second opinion?
The second opinion may either confirm or contradict the original diagnosis and recommended treatment plan or sometimes come up with another diagnosis entirely. It is important to understand that second opinions do not carry any legal weight.
A second opinion should never delay necessary treatments such as surgeries and medication. Second opinions can be especially helpful in learning more about a condition and how it can best be treated, but should never delay needed medical care.
A second opinion from another doctor does not replace advice from your own medical team who know you personally and have been monitoring your health over time. Whether you get a second opinion depends on your level of comfort with your current doctor and your health care needs. If you feel the need for a second opinion, seek out another doctor.
We hope this blog post has given you some insight into how a medical second opinion can help. Whether it’s just confirmation of an initial diagnosis or providing an alternative which will provide new treatment options, having the best team on board is essential in getting better results more quickly. If you are looking for one, we invite you to take our free online test and get matched with the concierge telemedicine package that is right for your needs.
Dr. Ismail Sayeed
Dr. Sayeed is the Medical Director of ViOS, Inc. He is a deeply committed physician entrepreneur & medical blog writer. While building the global infrastructure of the VIOS Clinic, he is dedicated to educate people on the potential of specialist telemedicine for managing chronic diseases.
Read more about him in his author bio