When your doctor gives you his diagnosis and recommends a treatment plan, you almost certainly have questions and concerns It does not mean you do not trust your doctor or doubt his or her ability to move forward in your best interest. It just means you might feel a little more at ease hearing what another respected physician would recommend.
Many doctors actually encourage second or even third opinions. Sometimes insurance companies even require it before covering your treatment. You may find that second doctor will recommend a more conservative or aggressive approach or who may have a little more insight into the latest medical advances. Getting a second opinion can give you a fresh perspective and provide new treatment options to consider.
Here are a few tips for seeking another opinion:
Start By Asking Your Doctor for a Recommendation
Don’t worry about hurting your doctor’s feelings. When surgery or long-term treatment is involved, most doctors welcome a colleague’s opinion. If it feels uncomfortable to ask for a recommendation, you may wish to let your doctor know you are satisfied with his or her care, but want your treatment decision to be as thoroughly informed as possible. It may help to bring a family member or friend along for support.
Look to a Trusted Source for a Referral
If your doctor is unable to recommend a specialist for a second opinion or if you choose to pursue one on your own, call our CareLine where one of our Care Consultants can help you locate a physician in your area. Additionally, your local hospital or its patient referral service may be able to provide you with a list of specialists connected with that hospital. Your nearest National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center is also a good source; visit www.cancercenters.cancer.gov and search by location, type of cancer center, or cancer center name.
Check in with Your Health Insurance Company
Some health care plans require a second opinion, particularly if surgery is recommended. Others pay for a second opinion at your request. Ask if there are specific procedures you need to follow to have your claim approved.
Request to Have Your Medical Records Forwarded
Ask your current doctor to send your medical records to the new doctor. You need to give written permission to have your records or test results forwarded. You can also ask for a copy of your own medical records for your files.
Do Your Best to See the Second Doctor in Person
If you have limited access to specialized care based on where you live, your availability for travel or your current mobility, many well-known medical facilities offer second opinions remotely. However, that is no substitute for being seen by a doctor who will perform a physical examination and maybe other tests.
Go with the Best Assessment
After your visit, you may be confused about which doctor’s guidance to follow. Ask yourself: does the plan the second doctor is proposing make more sense, involve less risk and concentrate on medical issues that are most crucial? Talk over your concerns with your current doctor; in some cases, a third opinion is warranted.