Should you get a second opinion? If you just received a diagnosis, but something in your gut tells you to seek more guidance, it’s OK to consult with another doctor to get additional insight into your condition and care. Second opinions are highly valuable because they can either confirm or disprove your original diagnosis or provide a different perspective.
If you are unsure about getting a second opinion because you don’t want to offend your doctor, don’t let your concerns stop you. The fact is that most doctors will not get offended and welcome second opinions, especially if you were diagnosed with a serious or rare condition.
Are you ready to get a second opinion? Let’s talk about when it might be the right time to speak to a second doctor, and how to find doctors you can trust to give you a quality second opinion.
7 Reasons to Get a Second Opinion
Below is an infographic that depicts the process of getting a second opinion.
Let’s discuss each point in more detail.
1. You Feel Unsure or Uncomfortable
If you leave your doctor’s office feeling unsure or uncertain about your diagnosis and/or treatment options, it’s OK to get a second opinion. You will feel more comfortable if you are 100% certain you are getting the best treatment plan for your lifestyle and comfort level.
Getting this level of care may also require seeking guidance from several doctors because they may disagree on your treatment protocols. According to the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, “It’s unrealistic to expect that health care professionals will always agree about which plan of care is best.”
Unless you are facing a medical emergency, it may be beneficial to take some time after your diagnosis to prepare yourself before visiting a second doctor. Ask more questions, do your own research, and gather information. Advocate for your health so you can make the most informed health decisions.
2. You Want to Confirm Your Diagnosis
According to the journal BMJ Quality & Safety, outpatient diagnostic errors affect approximately 12 U.S. million adults yearly, and half of the errors can potentially be harmful.
Doctors are human; they make mistakes just like you. Plus, no one doctor is 100% up to date on the more than one million clinical trials and studies performed yearly in the US. It is impossible for every doctor to be well-versed in the pathology and treatment of all diseases. Getting a second opinion will provide assurance that you receive an accurate diagnosis.
3. You Were Diagnosed With a Serious or Complex Condition
The Mayo Clinic sees many patients who request a second opinion. In a recent study, the clinic reported that up to 88% of patients seeking second opinions receive a new or refined diagnosis, which changes their care plan. Just 12% receive a confirmation on the original diagnosis.
If you have been diagnosed with a serious or complex condition like cancer or multiple sclerosis, you may feel more comfortable seeking other opinions before you undergo treatment. Treating complex conditions can be a life-long endeavor, so the more knowledge you glean from multiple medical experts, the more comfortable you can feel about the health decisions you make.
4. You Were Diagnosed With a Rare Disease
Even though 25 to 30 million people in the U.S. are living with a rare disease, a Global Genes survey discovered that 40% of primary care physicians and 24% of specialists lack time to do a proper workup for rare conditions. The survey also stated that it takes an average of nearly five years from symptom onset to accurate diagnosis for patients living with a rare disease. Also, patients living with rare diseases visit an average of 7.3 physicians before receiving an accurate diagnosis.
Rare diseases are not as well-studied as more common conditions, so getting a second opinion from a specialist who is an expert in your rare condition is critical. Later in this article, we talk about finding doctors who are experts in specific conditions using the comprehensive medical database MediFind.
5. You Have Unanswered Medical Questions
You may have left your doctor’s office confused about your diagnosis and care plan. Or maybe you simply need more clarification.
It’s not uncommon for patients to feel confused after leaving their doctor’s office, mainly because they do not have enough time to voice their concerns and explain their health history. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, physicians spend 20 minutes with each patient, on average.
Seeking advice from a second doctor can help you fill in the knowledge gaps to understand your diagnosis and treatment options better. The more knowledge you have, the more empowered you will be to make the best health decisions.
6. Your Doctor Recommends an Invasive Procedure
Did your doctor recommend surgery or an invasive treatment that may have lifelong consequences? Before you undergo any type of invasive treatment, you may want to explore your options so you can be absolutely sure the recommended procedure is your best course of action. A second doctor may explore alternative treatment options, and provide additional feedback and clarity.
7. Your Current Treatment is Not Working
Suppose you are receiving treatment based on your original diagnosis, but you are not getting better. Your symptoms have not subsided and you are questioning your original diagnosis or your treatment plan. In that case, you may want to confirm your diagnosis or treatment with a second doctor so you can ensure you receive the highest quality of care.
How to Find Doctors Who Can Give You a Quality Second Opinion
If you are ready to get a second opinion, we hope to make your journey a little less frustrating so you can find the best care as quickly as possible. This section will discuss how to find the best second doctors who are highly reputable and likely to give you a quality second opinion.
Find Doctors Who are Experts in Your Condition
A quality second opinion will most likely come from a doctor who is an expert in your particular condition. These doctors often have the following experience:
- Authored and published research and papers related to a particular condition
- Receive referrals from other specialists who treat patients with this condition
- Professional experience treating patients with this condition
- Highly connected with other physicians who treat this condition
Finding doctors who have this level of expertise would require a lot of time digging into complex research and uncovering findings from hordes of medical data. Thankfully, you don’t have to do this time-consuming research. We created MediFind to fast-track the doctor-finding process and provide patients with access to over 2.5 million doctors who specialize in a particular condition.
With MediFind’s Second Opinion Finder, you can find the best physicians based on the four expertise criteria we detailed above. Simply enter your current doctor, condition, and location into MediFind’s interface, and it will quickly provide a list of doctors who are experts in your condition.
The MediFind Second Opinion Finder connects you with doctors at the forefront of research in their fields. These experts are likely to have additional insights about treatment options that are different from your original doctor. To find out how MediFind defines a doctor’s expertise, learn more here.
Narrow Down Your Diagnosis
Finding a doctor who is an expert in your condition is essential if you want the best care. So if you are still uncertain whether your symptoms come from a particular condition, use MediFind’s Symptom Checker to narrow down your list of potential diagnoses. Note that this search is for information purposes only and designed to help you find a doctor with whom you can discuss your potential diagnoses.
Empower Yourself: Get the Best Care Possible
We believe in patient autonomy and empowering healthcare consumers to get the best care possible. Getting a second opinion is one way to become an advocate for your own health so you can get the full picture of your diagnosis and care options. If you need any help searching for your condition, looking up recent studies and clinical trials, or finding the best doctors who are experts in your condition, MediFind is here to help.